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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Memphis uses late-inning hitting to surge past error-plagued Dogs

Emma Katherine Hutto
MSU Baseball

Behind a three-run ninth inning, the Memphis Tigers’ baseball squad left Dudy Noble Field with a 6-4 victory over Mississippi State University Wednesday night. 

Fielding issues plagued the Bulldogs late in the game as MSU committed a season-high three errors, which propelled the Tigers in their final at bat. 

The Bulldogs shined on the mound with solid pitching, but MSU head coach John Cohen said it was the defense that ultimately cost the Bulldogs a victory.

“I told our club, I feel like we ran away from who we are tonight, and that’s disappointing. That’s on me, and that’s on our coaching staff,” Cohen said. “Our identity is pitching and defense. I thought we pitched it very well, but we did not defend the field well.”

The Memphis rally began in the bottom of the eighth inning when Tiger head coach Daron Schoenrock was ejected from the game arguing balls and strikes. 

Schoenrock said although he does not get run out of games often, he felt his team needed a spark.

“I don’t do that a lot. I thought we were a little stagnant at the time. We’re down, and we’re facing two of the best relievers in college baseball, and I said, ‘This is the time,’” he said. “I thought the team needed a little bit of lift at that moment. Sometimes you do things as a coach to give your team a lift.”

The Tigers responded as All-American closer Jonathan Holder suffered only his second loss of his career. Holder surrendered two hits and three runs in the ninth inning. The Tigers opened the final frame by reaching base on a wild-pitched third strike. 

The Tigers added a steal and an RBI single to tie the game at four apiece, and a Bulldog error late in the inning kept the Memphis rally alive to push the Tigers to victory.

Memphis (4-0) shut down MSU’s threat in the bottom of the ninth when senior C.T. Bradford was caught stealing, and senior Demarcus Henderson struckout to end the game. 

Schoenrock said the team who made the most plays defensively decided the tight contest.

“As a game, it could have gone either way. The difference tonight was we made the routine plays and State didn’t,” he said. “What happens when you don’t make plays is that you give up too many free bases. I would like to see us not walk as many guys. We had to pitch out of a lot of jams. Defensively, they picked us up and we made the plays tonight.”

MSU starting pitcher senior Ben Bracewell threw a career-long six innings and gave up one run on three hits and recorded a career-high seven strikeouts. 

The co-captain said he felt good in his debut start of the season but gave credit to the Memphis offense.

“I felt like I had good command of all three pitches tonight. My arm is feeling good,” he said. “You saw we put up (four scoreless innings) to start with, but they don’t go away. Credit them for that. They didn’t fold over or give up because we were having some success on defense to start the game.”

Bracewell also said the team seeks to make corrections in practice this week before heading into this weekend’s four-game set against Holy Cross.

“We have a big day at practice (Thursday). It’s going to be huge for us to try to fix some of the mistakes we made tonight. But everything (Cohen) said to us after the game is dead on,” he said. “We kind of lost our identity tonight as a team. That’s not like us. You’re not going to see it that often from this group of guys — I can promise you that. We’re going to come out (Thursday) and make sure we get that back heading into the weekend.”

The Dogs claimed a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning, but the bats were silenced, as MSU would only produce just one hit the rest of the game. 

Cohen said he will look to veterans on the team to help reestablish the offensive woes.

“We’re taking selfish swings. It’s a team game. We’ve got to have some older guys do what we did last year, and that’s help us run this club and help us understand what our identity is. It’s the little things that can make us a good club down the stretch,” he said. “We have a long way to go. I still believe this club is going to be a very nice club. They’re just in search of their identity right now, and it’s our job as coaches to help them find that.”

MSU returns to the diamond Friday against Holy Cross at 4 p.m. The Dogs will face a double-header with the Crusaders Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. before the Sunday finale at 1:30 p.m.

Cohen said he is not set on a pitching rotation heading into the weekend but will give players who have not pitched yet this season an opportunity to see action on the mound.

 “I don’t really look at it as a rotation. I look at it as a lot of guys getting the opportunity to pitch,” Cohen said. “John Marc Shelly really hasn’t had that opportunity yet. Vance Tatum pitched the one game. We have a bunch of guys we want to give innings to. That’s what really forces it with a four-game series.”

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Memphis uses late-inning hitting to surge past error-plagued Dogs