Here’s what the Diamond Dawgs must do to climb out of a 0-1 hole in their series against Ole Miss.
Mississippi State baseball dropped Game 1 against Ole Miss by a score of 4-2 on Thursday night, putting the Diamond Dawgs in a big hole to start the series.
The Bulldogs need to win the series to stay alive in the race for the postseason, but Thursday night’s performance was less-than-impressive offensively. Brad Cumbest and Kellum Clark each hit solo home runs, but that was it. Ultimately, a costly defensive error on RJ Yeager proved to be the turning point in the game.
With two more series games and a Governor’s Cup in Jackson looming over the next five days, here is what Mississippi State must do to come out on top.
1. Create quality at-bats.
Ole Miss used its best pitcher tonight in Dylan DeLucia. The rest of the pitching squad looks a little shaky, to say the least. Heading into the series, Ole Miss was ranked last in the SEC in total pitching performance. Mississippi State needs to put together some quality at-bats, and that starts with taking more pitches. Not swinging at the first pitch– especially those that are in the dirt– would help MSU’s batters. They also need to work unfavorable at-bats with foul balls to wear down pitchers and plow through the bullpen. Nothing is worse than standing by and watching strike three come straight down the middle when some contact could have been made.
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2. Trust the batters enough.
Does pinch-hitting really help anybody? So far, Mississippi State doesn’t seem to have one guy that can do exceptional things and solidify himself as a pinch hitter. It’s easy for a batter to have a tough night, but that doesn’t mean that he should be yanked from the game in the seventh inning. How is he going to get better if he doesn’t see pitches? Unnecessary substitutions also throw off the defense in crucial parts of the game. At this point in the season, the coaching staff needs to roll with who they have on the field unless an emergency or injury changes things.
3. Rely on base hits.
Mississippi State’s two runs in Thursday night’s game came off of hard-hit home runs. Homers are great, but it’s hard to win games without base hits. The Diamond Dawgs need to start putting the ball in play more– which is easier said than done. Sometimes it can be difficult against a very talented pitcher, but it shouldn’t be a problem in every game. Not only do base hits bring in big runs in critical moments, but they also give a team the momentum to keep going and build confidence that will ultimately carry it through a tough game.