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 shines in weekend victories

Mississippi State (6-3) blew up the scoreboard with 41 runs and went 3-1 this weekend in their two-game series against the Indiana State Sycamores (3-4) and the Marist Red Foxes (5-2). 

“We are really close to being really really good,” lead-off hitter Jake Manugm said after Sunday’s game. “I truly believe that. We have a lot a young guys that are getting experience.”

MSU won the first three games, two over Indiana State and one over Marist, before falling to the Red Foxes in a rematch on Sunday. The story of the first two games was the great hitting of Brent Rooker.

Rooker, a junior from Germantown, Tennessee, was on fire on Friday and game one of Saturday. 

On Friday, Rooker hit two home runs and two doubles, going 4-4 from the plate. He also drove in a career-high eight RBIs. He carried that performance into Saturday with another 4-4 performance at the plate and six RBIs. He cooled off in the last two games of the weekend and went a combined 0-8 at the plate.

“Obviously it is good to get the first one (home run) out of the way,” Rooker said after Friday’s game. “I made a small adjustment before the game during batting practice and I think that paid off pretty well.”

MSU found solid pitching over the course of the weekend. On Friday, Konnor Pilkington got the start and went a career-long eight innings and achieved the win. Pilkington, a sophomore from Hurley, Mississippi, only gave up four hits and struck out six batters. He gave up no runs. 

“He is our best starter, he is one of the best sophomore starting pitchers in America,” Cannizaro said. “He is going to continue to go out there on Friday and we feel really great about him.”

MSU played a double header on Saturday. Freshman Graham Ashcraft started and got the 12-4 win over Marist. Ashcraft, a freshman from Gruly, Alabama, had a rough start, giving up three runs in the first two innings before pitching three scoreless innings.  

On Saturday, it was Peyton Plumlee who got the start and a 9-1 win over Indiana State. Plumlee, a sophomore from Olive Branch, Mississippi, also went eight innings, giving up three hits and striking out five batters. He gave up no runs and issued two walks. 

On Sunday, it was a reliever, not a starter, who shined. Riley Self, a freshman from Coldwater, Mississippi, came into MSU’s 9-8 loss to Marist with MSU trailing 8-3. He was able to stop the bleeding but it wasn’t enough, as MSU still fell short. He only surrendered two hits and no runs while striking out four batters. 

Cannizaro said Self is doing everything they ask him to do.

“We want guys that can come out, pound the strike zone, that have a secondary pitch, that can get swings and misses, that get early contact, that works fast, keeps your defense on their toes, he did that again today for the third time in this short season. I like that guy [Self] out on the mound,” Cannizaro said.

Ryan Gridley and Jake Mangum were the most consistent hitters throughout the weekend. Gridley, a junior from Milton, Georgia, got at least two hits in every game and went 13-17 at the plate over the weekend. Jake Mangum extended his hitting streak to 22-games this weekend. He got two hits in each game. 

MSU continued their aggression on the base paths. The team stole 13 bases over the course of the weekend, including six on Friday in their 11-6 win over Indiana State. Brent Rooker leads the team in stolen bases as he is 8-8 on steal attempts this season. Mangum and Gridley both have six steal attempts, Mangum is 5-6 and Gridley is 6-6. MSU as a team is 23-26 on the season. 

Brent Rooker said Coach Cannizaro is the reason behind their aggression on the base path.

“His philosophy is we are going to run and be aggressive,” Rooker said. “A lot of people don’t know but I can run a little bit and so I am just able to put that to work, put that to use a little bit under him [Cannizaro].”

The Bulldogs will not play a midweek game this week. Their next game will be on Friday in Eugene, Oregon, where they will take on the Oregon Ducks in their first three-game series of the season.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Rooker shines in weekend victories