The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Rooker’s heroics propel diamond dawgs into Super Bulldog Weekend

Taylor Robbins | The Reflector

Brent Rooker is leading the SEC in eight offensive categories. He had two home runs and five RBI against FIU on Wednesday.

Brent Rooker smashed a walk-off home run in the 10th inning of Mississippi State University’s (20-11, 6-3 SEC)  midweek game to give MSU the victory and regain some momentum going into Super Bulldog Weekend. 

Rooker, a redshirt junior from Germantown, Tennessee, is having one of the best seasons of anyone in the country at the plate. Batting .436, Rooker is almost averaging one RBI a hit this season. He has 51 hits on the year and 50 RBI.

“I think he is the best hitter in America right now,” head coach Andy Cannizaro said. “It is not just right handed power, he is a complete hitter, he is seeing spin really well, he is using the whole field, and he is able to real damage to mistakes that are over the plate.”

Rooker continued his great season Wednesday night in MSU’s second midweek game versus Florida International University (17-12, 5-1 C-USA).  MSU was coming off an embarrassing 3-8 loss to FIU the night before and were looking to regain momentum. Things were not looking good as MSU saw themselves down 6-1 in the third inning. Behind Rooker’s play, they came back and won 9-7 in 10 innings. Rooker had three hits, two home runs, and five RBI in four at-bats.

“That is a huge maturity step for this young team,” Rooker said. “Coming off of last night and getting down early tonight, it would be really easy to cash it in and just say alright lets go into Super Bulldog Weekend, take our loses, but we showed a lot of fight, we showed a lot of resiliency. I’m really proud of our guys.”

It was Rooker who led the charge back into the game with a two-run homer in the fifth inning to close the gap to one with MSU only trailing 6-5. MSU ended up tying the game 7-7 and went into extra innings. 

In the bottom of the 10th, Rooker stepped up to the plate and smashed his second homer of the night for the walk-off win. The home run was his 12th of the season. 

Besides obviously getting the win, the most important part of the win was ending the game. MSU’s bullpen has been plagued by injuries, with  over a half dozen pitchers out with injuries. 

MSU closer Spencer Price was on the mound and had already pitched 2.1 innings. He usually only goes one inning, or one inning and an out or two at most. The choice to use Price showed how much Cannizaro wanted to win this game with Price being an important piece of the  rotation. Price is MSU’s go-to closer and has nine saves on the year for his efforts. 

Price was credited the win and only gave up one hit. He struck out three of the nine batters he faced. Price, a sophomore from Olive Branch, Mississippi, said he was hoping MSU would come back so he could throw, even if he is needed for this weekend. 

“I’m always looking for a tight ballgame, so I can throw,” Price said. “It is what I love to do, a win is a win and I’ll take them when I can get them.”

With MSU’s use of five  pitchers   Tuesday  night, and six on Wednesday, they were running out of arms. If Rooker did not end the game in the 10th, coach Cannizaro said he had no idea who he would send out there to pitch.

“We were out of bullets for the night,” Cannizaro said. “It was either Spencer Price was going to go back on the mound for one more inning and then after that I have absolutely no idea, it was going to be someone’s knuckleball that is going to go out on the mound there, was really glad Rooker won the ball game when he did because we were officially out of bullets at that point.”

MSU to make the staff work this weekend, using usual weekend relievers Riley Self and Spencer Price Wednesday night. Cannizaro said the pitchers who threw on Tuesday would be able to throw on Friday. The pitchers of note from Tuesday are usual game two starter Peyton Plumlee, and reliever Trey Jolly. He also said reliever Riley Self should be able to go and Spencer Price could be used Friday in a very limited role.

MSU’s  Super Bulldog Weekend opponent is No. 10 Kentucky (21-9, 7-2 SEC), who is coming off of a 5-3 loss to No. 2 Louisville. The game will be against a familiar face as Kentucky is led by head coach Nick Mingione. Mingione coached under John Cohen for eight seasons, including when Cohen coached at MSU. He coached a number of MSU’s current players, including Rooker. 

“It is going to be fun,” Rooker said on playing against Mingione. “It will be a little weird with him being in the other dugout but it will make for a good matchup.”

Game one starts today at 6 p.m., game two starts tomorrow at 6 p.m. and game three is on Sunday at 1 p.m. All the games are at Dudy Noble field.

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Rooker’s heroics propel diamond dawgs into Super Bulldog Weekend