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

Takeaways from Bulldogs’ opening weekend

Jacob Follin|The Reflector

The Bulldog pitching staff was thought to be a strength of the team going into the season but the unit struggled during opening weekend.  They allowed a combined 15 runs over four total games.

After the opening weekend of the 2016 season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs are sitting  2-2  and No. 20 in the Division 1 Top 25 polls. There were some high and  low points to the opening tournament, but they are  looking past the lows and eager to improve their record.

The Bulldogs dropped their opener to Florida Atlantic University 10-6, and the low point of the game was the pitching staff. Dakota Hudson started and threw a decent ballgame, but when he turned it over to the bullpen, it got bad. 

Hudson threw five solid innings, and Kale Breaux came in and threw a nice 6th inning. After that there were four pitchers in the 7th inning  and each of them allowed at least one run. The Bulldogs tried to fight back on offense, tallying 17 hits, but could not get the runs they needed to win.

In the opener MSU played nine true freshmen and while most of them struggled, one in particular shined. Luke Alexander had a very good night, hitting his first home run of the season. Newcomer Jack Kruger also shined, and had two doubles and three hits in his debut at MSU.

In the second game, everything clicked offensively for the Bulldogs. They belted out 17 runs on 17 hits, and punished South Dakota State (SDSU) on the field. While the pitching staff struggled once again, the Bulldogs still won because of the offense.

In the third game, the bats could not stay hot. After gathering 17 hits in the morning game, the Bulldogs mustered only four hits and zero runs in the game. The Owls took control early and never looked back, taking a 4-0 win over the Bulldogs.

On Sunday though, the bats were alive again, tallying up 14 hits and 15 runs against SDSU. They won 15-5 in seven innings, and finished out the weekend strong. Pitching was shaky at the beginning of the game, but they all settled down and finished strong.

Over the course of the weekend, offense was the strength of the Bulldogs. Besides the one game where they could not get much going, they tallied up 17, 17, and 14 hits respectively. The starting pitching staff struggled mightily, but that may have been nerves. The bullpen (besides Friday night) was fantastic and pitched almost perfect the entire weekend. 

One of the most interesting stats of the weekend is that MSU had 17 players make their debut this weekend, and most of them were true freshmen who got some early playing time. Out of the players, Jack Kruger stood out the most.

Kruger started the weekend hot, and never slowed down. Over the course of four games, Kruger ended up going 9 for 16, with five doubles, nine RBIs, and eight  runs scored. That’s a pretty outstanding stretch for the JUCO transfer. He garnered a lot of praise from his teammates, including fellow newcomer Alexander.

“He’s probably the best hitter I’ve ever seen,” Alexander said. “Just the approach he takes to hitting everyday, even in the Palmeiro center taking BP is unreal.”

Humphreys had an outstanding weekend as well, tallying six hits and five doubles. Ryan Gridley was in a groove and he finished the weekend with seven hits, and Brent Rooker finished with four doubles.

Although the sticks were hot and the pitching staff struggled heavily, there were a few hot spots pitching. Vance Tatum was the best pitcher of the weekend, coming out of relief to throw 4 1/3 innings, and not allowing any runs. 

Coach John Cohen did not seem too worried about the struggles of the starting pitching, and has complete faith that they will improve going further into the season. 

“Our pitching staff has not been what we need them to be,” Cohen said. “And I think they would all say that out loud. Even for the guys who have been around, their first time out is a step-by-step process and we need everyone of these guys to be better the next time out.”

 Mississippi State will be fine this season after their starting pitching settles down and  they get in the correct groove. The offense has put a new spark into the season, and although they will face better pitching going into the season the Bulldogs will not have much trouble  scoring runs this season as they are solid throughout the lineup. 

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Takeaways from Bulldogs’ opening weekend