The new bats seem to work just fine for the Mississippi State Bulldogs this weekend.
"We're pleased with the development of our club this weekend," MSU baseball coach John Cohen said. "I'm kind of shocked at what transpired today."
Mississippi State (4-0) had the first 12 batters that came to the plate Sunday reach base and plated 13 runs in the opening frame to eventually take a 17-2 victory over the defending Southland Conference Tournament champions.
"I was talking to one of the guys in the dugout that I don't think I've every seen a team nearly bat around twice without a recording an out so what we did today was pretty impressive," senior shortstop Jonathan Ogden said.
Ogden punctuated the momentum in the bottom of the first inning with a grand slam home run off former junior college teammate Stephen Tromblee over Left Field Lounge to make the lead 8-1.
The senior, who played 56 games last season with a broken bone in his foot, ended the weekend near the top of the team in home runs (first with two), RBIs (second with six), and total bases (fourth with nine).
“I don’t think I’ve had a player work as hard on his stroke as Jonathan Ogden,” Mississippi State head coach John Cohen said. “I think in some way last year he had small man’s disease when a smaller guy tries to swing much harder to make up for his lack of size.”
Freshman left fielder C.T. Bradford went 2-for-5 with three runs batted in and a pair of runs scored and senior Nick Vickerson made it on base four times and scored on every occasion from the leadoff spot in the MSU order.
In his first weekend of college baseball, Bradford finished the four games 7-of-16 at the plate with four RBIs and four runs scored and a on-base percentage of .526.
“It was awesome and I just couldn’t have asked for more,” the 2010 Mr. Baseball in the state of Florida said. “I had to make some quick adjustments at the plate but I think I figured it out and worked from there.”
The 13 runs in an inning on Lamar (1-3) are the most since Cohen took over the Bulldogs program three years ago.
"It's an opportunity to showcase to our young players everything we're trying to get done," Cohen said. "I learned a long time ago from (former MSU head coach) Ron Polk that big innings win baseball games and that's just a fact."
The Bulldogs had 19 of its 52 hits go for extra bases and featured six players finish the round-robin four-game stretch against Lamar and Akron with a slugging percentage over .600.
Freshman Daryl Norris went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run scored from the fourth spot and designated hitter role in the lineup. Norris was batting behind fifth-year senior Jarrod Parks on Sunday and the Bulldogs third baseman got on base during each of his fourth plate appearances. Coming off of major back surgery, Parks finished four starts with a .533 batting average with four extra-base hits and a .867 slugging percentage.
The 2,473 announced fans at Dudy Noble Field Sunday saw the MSU debut for three more pitchers as junior Tim Statz along with freshman Evan Mitchell and Victor Diaz got action on the mound.
Mitchell, a 6-foot-2, 174-pound right-hander got the victory by registering 3.1 innings of scoreless relief in just 48 pitches and after the effort Sunday Cohen hinted the Marietta, Ga., native could be in the conversation for the still open third starter spot in the MSU pitching rotation.
“We are very pleased with his development (because) he’s a guy that’s a strike thrower,” Cohen said. “He can throw that second pitch in the strike zone, has good velocity with a slider.”
Mississippi State will next be in action Tuesday when Cohen’s former school Northwestern State comes to Starkville for a 4 p.m. contest.