GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Over the past two weeks, John Cohen has said freshman pitcher Evan Mitchell is the “hot hand.”
So it was no surprise when he officially names Mitchell the starting pitcher for Game 1 of Mississippi State”s NCAA Super Regional against the Florida Gators.
In all, Mitchell (6-1, 3.47 ERA) has pitched a total of eight innings against the Gators (five innings in a start in the SEC tournament and three innings of relief in the Starkville series ) and has given up four earned runs on nine hits.
That kind of stat line in a start tomorrow would be a welcome sight against a lineup Cohen calls “the best in the country.”
“You look at the breaking ball, the changeup and the fastball, and really his ability to locate,” Cohen said Thursday. “If you take the ninth inning out of his performance in Atlanta, it”s a pretty good performance. We feel very comfortable he”s gonna be able to throw it in the strike zone.
“You have to show them you can locate in and away. Evan”s had some success doing that in his last three starts.”
Junior left-hander Nick Routt (3-3, 3.78) will start Saturday.
Routt turned in MSU”s first complete game of the season against Georgia Tech last Sunday at the Atlanta regional, giving up two earned runs on six hits. He struck out six.
Mitchell is coming off an impressive outing against Austin Peay, tossing eight innings and giving up three earned runs on five hits. He threw a season-high 130 pitches.
Against Florida in the SEC tournament, Mitchell, a freshman, drew the start over weekend starters Luis Pollorena, Chris Stratton and Routt. He wasn”t fazed by it then, giving up two earned runs on five hits in five innings.
The pressure isn”t a factor.
“We don”t care about the grades or the classes, just go do what we”re told and taught,” Mitchell said. “I kind of wish in the SEC tournament we could have finished with a win and I could have went a little bit longer. I kind of put a little stress on our bullpen at the end, so hopefully I can get more early strikes and lower my pitch-count throughout the game.”
—”Dogs expect efficient Randall
Don”t put too much stock into Hudson Randall”s poor start against Mississippi State.
John Cohen doesn”t.
“I think we took a couple of good swings,” Cohen said of the Bulldogs” 7-5 win at Dudy Noble Field. “I think there was some marginal pitches that if they”re called strikes against us could have ended some innings. If they were called balls, they advance counts and we hit some balls out of the ballpark. I think that guy”s really good.”
Randall lasted just 2 1/3 innings and gave up six earned runs and nine hits. He felt he left too many balls up in the zone, which is exactly what MSU hopes he does tomorrow.
“A pitcher like Hudson Randall, he”s gonna make adjustments too,” MSU third baseman Jarrod Parks said. “He”s probably gonna go in with a different gameplan. He”s gonna be just as tough to face this time around. He could be just like he was last time, we just got to hope he leaves some pitches out over the plate.
“Not waiting around (will be important), because a pitcher like him you”ll be 0-2 in a few seconds because he fills up the zone.”
—Cohen relishing opportunity at McKethan Stadium
Former Florida assistant coach John Cohen says he”s gained invaluable experience from each of his coaching stops.
His biggest influence, though, might have come from the tutelage of former Florida coach Pat McMahon when Cohen was an assistant at Gainesville from 2002-03.
“You don”t just work for your boss, which is the head coach, you”re working for (athletic director) Jeremy Foley,” Cohen said, “and he has expectations. He”s a great leader. I learned a great deal from being here.
“Even being around coach (Steve) Spurrier from a distance. I remember walking up there one day early one, watching football practice in my practice uniform and a security guard escorted me and said ”you”re not allowed to watch football practice.” I learned a lot there. It”s a great, great experience.”
Cohen has the chance to springboard to the College World Series with two wins in Gainesville this weekend.