MSU's Wes Rea assumes his defensive position at first base. Rea had the winning hit in Friday night's 1-0 win over Kansas. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)
Good coaching and a good piece of hitting led to Mississippi State picking up a walk-off 1-0 victory over the visiting Kansas Jayhawks on Friday night.
MSU head coach John Cohen gave redshirt freshman Wes Rea a bit of advice as he walked to the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
Rea then belted the game-winning double off the left field wall scoring C.T. Bradford, who opening the inning with a leadoff walk.
â€śI told him I wanted him to have bunt-type body language when he came up to the plate,â€ť said Cohen. â€śIt is hard to bunt a guy that is 6-foot-6 and weighs 290 pounds. Heâ€™s done it before and he is good at it. I just felt like he was going to get a fastball early up in the zone.â€ť
Thatâ€™s exactly how it played out and Rea took full advantage.
â€śIt was a fastball in," said Rea, who picked up his only hit of the evening in his final at bat. "They had been beating me there all night. I struck out twice on the same pitch. Coach Cohen put on a hit and run because (Kansas) thought I was going to bunt the ball, it was good coaching on his part.â€ť
Reaâ€™s heroics simply capped a night that was dominated by stellar pitching from both squads.
MSU starter Ben Bracewell wasnâ€™t as efficient as he might have liked to be but he was effective nonetheless, going three innings allowing no runs on two hits while striking out three and walking four.
â€śBen didnâ€™t have his best stuff tonight, but a lot of his misses werenâ€™t big misses,â€ť said Cohen. â€śHeâ€™s a competitor and heâ€™ll bounce back.â€ť
In relief, Chris Stratton was spectacular facing just one batter over the minimum in six complete innings allowing just a single hit while striking out eight.
â€śHis stuff is real and it is fun to see that scoreboard light up with 92, 93, 94 at times,â€ť said Cohen. â€śThe 85 was his slider, thatâ€™s big league stuff.â€ť
Stratton improved his record to 2-0 this season.
Wes Benjamin matched MSU pitch for pitch over six and a third innings. He struck out six and walked no one.
â€śThe biggest thing was he was getting out one,â€ť said Rea. â€śIt is hard to do when youâ€™re getting out one every inning.â€ť
At the plate, Mississippi State could muster just five hits but three were extra base hits as Daryl Norris and Trey Porter each had a double added to Reaâ€™s game-winner.
Porterâ€™s double extended his hitting streak to four games and continues to get the attention of his coach.
â€śHeâ€™s a really good hitter, but what he brings is toughness, real mental toughness,â€ť said Cohen. â€śHe can really dictate the pitches he is going to hit because he is so much on the plate. Weâ€™re really glad to have him at Mississippi State.â€ť
Kansas, on the other, had totaled three hits with catcher James Stanfield picking up a pair of hits. The Jayhawks saw their record slip to 4-1.
The Bulldogs, now 3-1 this season, return to the diamond today to face Mississippi Valley State at noon before taking on Kansas once again at 4 p.m. MSU expects to send Kendall Graveman to the hill against MVSU and Nick Routt will face the Jayhawks.
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