Mississippi State head coach John Cohen continues to feel freshman arms are what get you beat in Southeastern Conference.
Against Sacred Heart however, they get you a 6-5 victory on Saturday night.
The righty-lefty duo of Taylor Starks and C.T. Bradford were able to combine for the win and the save after throwing 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball to complete Mississippi State’s third victory in a row.
Stark, a 5-foot-11 prospect from Northwest Rankin High School, allowed just single in the ninth inning but got two strikeouts in the previous inning in just 10 pitches to get his first victory on the mound in his collegiate career.
“I just wanted to keep our team in the game by throwing a lot of strikes,” Stark said. “I like to be brought in during tough situations.”
After Bulldogs closer Caleb Reed was used for one pitch in a bunt situation, MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson turned to Bradford in a one-run ballgame for the final two outs in only his second-ever pitching appearance in college.
“I like swinging the stick but I certainly don’t mind coming in during those matchup-type situations absolutely,” Bradford said.
The former Mr. Baseball in the state of the Florida got a routine fly out and a punchout looking to send the 1,527 at Dudy Noble Field home in a good mood.
“He’s our best left-on-left guy and he might end up being our Sunday (starter) down the road who can really pitch,” Cohen said. “He shoves it in the strike zone with three pitches.”
Bradford, a 5-foot-8, 159-pound everyday outfielder, also had a productive day at the plate with a pair of RBIs and brought MSU (12-3) back from a 2-0 deficit with a double over the head of Sacred Heart leftfielder J.J. Edwards.
“We had to battle offensively and we know we can come out swinging better,” Bradford said. “We grinded all nine innings like we’re supposed to.”
Bradford is now alone in second place with three multi-RBI games during the 2011 season with an average that currently stands at .316.
The Bulldogs got in that two-run hole after Sacred Heart shortstop John Murphy put the Pioneers first home run of the 2010 season on the board with a shot off MSU starting pitcher Chris Stratton that bounced off the top of the right field wall.
“You’re feeling like things aren’t going to go your way when a ball hits the top of the fence, sits there and then just rolls over,” Cohen said.
Sacred Heart (4-6) tied the game in the fifth inning with three runs on just a single hit that was highlighted by MSU shortstop Jonathan Ogden committing his fourth error of the season by putting the double play throw into the Pioneers dugout and allowing two runners to cross.
“If Oggie puts that ball in his pocket, this ballgame is not even close,” Cohen said.
Despite going 2-for-3 at the plate, Mississippi State senior third baseman Jarrod Parks got hit literally with some bad luck again as he was plunked on the left elbow during fourth plate appearance and while he stayed to run the bases, Cohen replaced him in the field with sophomore Sam Frost. After the game, Parks was seen was a large ice pack wrapped around where he was hit.
“I’m going to need to check to find out,” Cohen said. “He told me ‘yeah, I’m great’ and then he tried to throw a bit and it swelled up on him. We’ll see how he's feeling soon.”
Cohen confirmed after the win that freshman right-hander Evan Mitchell will go for a team-high fourth victory on the mound today with first pitch at Polk-Dement Stadium scheduled for 1:30 p.m.