March 26, 2009
STARKVILLE â€" Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen is looking for players who will give a consistent effort every time they step on the field.
If Cohen can get that effort from a freshman, he will go that route.
On Wednesday night against the University of Memphis, two MSU freshmen showed they could be a key to the programâ€™s future.
Caleb Reed worked four innings in middle relief to pick up his first career win and shortstop Frank Rawdow had two hits, including a two-run double in the fifth inning, to help MSU defeat Memphis 6-3 at Dudy Noble Field.
Although Reed and Rawdow have a long way to go in Cohenâ€™s eyes, he appreciates the fact they are trying.
Reed (1-1) gave up one run on three hits, walked three and struck out one. The run he allowed came on a home run by Brett Bowen.
Reedâ€™s inability to put hitters away concerns Cohen.
â€œHe gets two strikes and doesnâ€™t have that pitch that can put a guy away,â€ Cohen said. â€œInstead of it being a three-pitch at-bat, itâ€™s foul ball, foul ball, foul ball, ball and now itâ€™s a seven-pitch at-bat. (The next pitch) leaves the ballpark because the guy has examined every pitch in every part of the strike zone.
â€œWe hope he will be a guy who can get them out in three or less pitches and end the at-bat. He knows that.â€
Reed credited his defense for keeping him in the game, but he understands he canâ€™t pitch like he did against Bowen and be effective for long.
Bowenâ€™s home run came on a 3-2 pitch.
â€œI always try to go after every hitter and try to get strike one every time,â€ Reed said. â€œWhen I fell behind, I paid for it. When I got ahead, it worked out in my favor.â€
Cohen said Reed is a great competitor who has the potential to become a good pitcher. He said he wants to find a way for Reed to channel his competitive nature in a positive way.
â€œI would love to lock him in a room with someone like Jeff Brantley for a week or so because he is in that mold,â€ Cohen said. â€œYou would love for him to end up being that type of guy down the road.â€
After the teams traded runs in the first inning, the Bulldogs took a lead in the second on a bases-loaded walk to Grant Hogue.
MSU (14-10) got another run in the fourth on an RBI single by Jet Butler and extended the margin to 5-1 in the fifth on the two-run double by Rawdow.
â€œFrankie is going to be a good player,â€ Cohen said. â€œHe plays hard and has some raw skill. Heâ€™s got arm strength and he can defend.â€
After Bowenâ€™s home run, the Bulldogs put up their final run in the sixth as Butler scored on a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Ryan Duffy.
Memphis scored its last run against Greg Houston in the eighth, but Chad Crosswhite recorded the final four outs for his fifth save.
Connor Powers joined Rawdow with a single and double for the Bulldogs, while Russ Sneed added two singles and Butler singled.
The Tigers (9-13) and coach Daron Schoenrock, a former pitching coach at MSU (2002-04), received the test they were looking for heading into their next Conference USA series at Rice.
â€œIt was a battle of two young clubs,â€ Schoenrock said. â€œWe started four freshmen and three of the guys that came out of the bullpen were freshmen. There are a lot of young guys getting the college baseball experience. I like getting the guys in this environment, and (Dudy Noble Field) is one of the best places to play in college baseball.â€
The Bulldogs resume Southeastern Conference play Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Arkansas.
NOTES: With his first-inning stolen base, Hogue entered the schoolâ€™s top 10 for career stolen bases. He is 14-for-14 this season. ... The Bulldogs won their 11th straight against the Tigers at home and improved to 13-2 at Dudy Noble Field this season. The attendance was announced at 1,134.
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