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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Riley makes name for him ‘Self’ in victory

Alayna Stevens | The Reflector

The Mississippi State University baseball upset No. 14 Texas Tech on Sunday night behind Riley Self’s five innings of relief. 

The Mississippi State University baseball team lived up to  the hype of opening weekend. 

Returning players such as Jake Mangum and Brent Rooker excelled as usual, with Mangum tallying up seven hits in four games and Rooker hitting a walk off single to beat Western Illinois.

While these were all big moments, the biggest happened in the comeback win against Texas Tech. That moment for Mississippi State was the play of one very talented freshman pitcher, Riley Self. 

Self was a very anticipated true freshman and many people expected huge things out of the young pitcher, with some fans on Twitter comparing him to former MSU star and current New York Yankees pitcher, Jonathan Holder.

Out of high school, Self was named a Louisville Slugger first team All-American and named the fifth best overall player in the state of Mississippi. He was the second best right-hander in the state and ranked 215th in the country for his class. 

After a very successful high school career, Self carried that into his first two performances of his collegiate career. 

In the season opener against Texas Tech on Friday, Self came in to the game and threw one inning. Although he did not stay in the game long, he only allowed one hit and struck out two Red Raiders to give fans a glimpse of what he could do.

The freshman had his fame in the last game of the weekend against the same team. When Self was called in from the bullpen, he starred for the Bulldogs. He ended up going five innings in the game, struck out seven batters, and only allowed one hit. The one hit was a solo home run in the eighth inning. 

In the five innings he threw, he retired all but two batters. One was the solo home run and the other was a walk. The team made no errors behind him and second baseman Hunter Stovall said it was because Self is calm and collected on the mound and easy to play behind. 

“Riley Self is an unbelievable pitcher,” Stovall said. “He is going to do big things for us this year and he is going to throw a lot of innings. He is very fun to play behind because he throws his little cutter deal and that is always getting under and over barrels and it’s always contact with him. He is a strike thrower so it’s fun to be behind someone like that.” 

The cutter was working for Self in the game. After he started throwing it when he was in high school, it was not his main focus until he got to MSU and spent the majority of his time on it. 

Self said his cutter is a feel pitch, and the pitch was working well on the night.

“My fastball is a cutter basically and I throw it every pitch and it gets under their barrels and I try to keep them off balanced as much as I can,” Self said. “The cutter became more natural when I got here with my arm slot and everyone kind of accepted it and it has become better since.”

Head coach Andy Cannizaro was very pleased with his performance on the day and bragged about the special talent he brings to the mound.

“Self was incredible,” Cannizaro said. “Fastball up to 91 with a wipeout slider and cutter. He really did a great job. You are talking about a kid who is just making his first or second appearance in college baseball.”

During a weekend MSU used 10 relief pitchers, Self stood out as one of the best. With MSU trying to find their starting rotation, Coach Cannizaro said Self may have put himself in a position to be one of the starters. He said if he does not become a starter, he will continue to pitch a good amount of innings.

“Riley Self is going to be somewhere in that mix, whether he morphs into a starter for us or we keep him in that bullpen role, but a guy like Riley shows you what kind of stuff he has,” Cannizaro said. “He is going to be on the mound and he is going to be on the mound a lot. We will see if he is a starter or a bullpen guy.”

Self said he does not mind if he is a starter or a bullpen pitcher as long as he helps out the team. When he was asked about his role, he said he will pitch anywhere he is wanted to pitch.

With the performance he gave the Bulldogs this past weekend, he should not have a problem finding time to pitch.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Riley makes name for him ‘Self’ in victory