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SMITH COLUMN: Second game losses sting MSU in SEC

April 7, 2012


Somewhere along the way this season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs need to figure out how to win a Saturday baseball game.

When that doesn't happen, the chances of taking two out of three in a Southeastern Conference series are small and it obviously eliminates the possibility of a sweep.

The Bulldogs are in danger of losing another SEC set after dropping a 4-3 decision in 12 innings to the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday.

MSU used 21 players with seven of them pitchers and was able to force extra innings when Hunter Renfroe drove home the tying run in the ninth inning.

In the end, the Bulldogs just couldn't get the job done and saw their records fall to 19-12 overall and 4-7 in the SEC. They have lost all four extra inning games played this season.

Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen was disappointed in the outcome, but he's not ready to throw his team under the bus.

At least, he wasn't in that kind of mood on Saturday.

"I know what kind of effort these kids are giving," Cohen said. "We've got guys hurt out there trying to make plays and giving it everything they've got. How can you get upset with that?"

There are several Bulldogs with various kinds of nicks and bruises, but it's a credit to players like C.T. Bradford, Daryl Norris and Brent Brownlee to keep pushing forward.

MSU has no choice than to put another Saturday loss behind them, or actually the string of those types of results.

The Bulldogs lost Saturday games to LSU 4-3, to Arkansas 8-0, to Auburn 10-6 and now to Vanderbilt.

The one against the Commodores hurts because of their record. Vanderbilt now stands at 13-18 overall and 4-7 in the conference. It was the first road victory of the season for the Commodores.

In a jumbled up conference race where every victory is precious, MSU has to take advantage of home games against teams with equal or less talent than it has.

That's not to suggest that Vanderbilt does not have a good club because any SEC squad has the capability of winning games.

It's just that losing home games, no matter who the opponent, doesn't allow teams to make up ground in the league standings.

After Alabama's two games over rival Auburn so far this weekend, the Crimson Tide are putting pressure on the Bulldogs to stay out of the cellar. Going into today's action, Alabama has a 3-8 conference mark and are one game back of MSU for last place.

There seems to be a sense of urgency with the Bulldogs as they turn their attention to today's third game of the series with the Commodores at 1:30 p.m.

MSU can still salvage a positive feel to the weekend by getting an Easter victory and capturing its first series of the season.

"We've got to come out with fire and get a win (today)," Renfroe said.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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