STARKVILLE — Tanner Gaines was not part of the plans for the 2012 season.
The redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher was not being considered for significant time on the mound either this past fall or early this spring. Those thoughts and plans by the Mississippi State University baseball program may be in need of some adjusting after his performance Tuesday night.
The former all-state selection from Baldwyn High School stabilized the Bulldogs on the mound in a 7-3 victory over Penn State University at Dudy Noble Field.
After nine different pitchers were handed the baseball this past weekend in four straight MSU victories, Gaines was exactly the answer the Bulldogs were looking for pitching 4 2/3 inning of no-hit relief against the Nittany Lions.
“With the pitching staff we have, you have to earn what you get in playing time and it’s very difficult,” Gaines said after the game but just before he received a shaving cream pie from his teammates in honor of his first collegiate win.
In the 68-pitch outing, Gaines (1-0) only reached a three-ball count with four of the 16 faced batters thanks to getting his curveball over for strike one consistently.
“We always have loved the arm but we’ve been waiting for the command to one day show up,” MSU coach John Cohen said. “If a kid works that hard, you absolutely love it and our kids can feel something special like that.”
Gaines was the first MSU relief pitcher to enter the game for No. 23 MSU (11-2) as sophomore C.T. Bradford struggled to get outs in his season debut on the mound. The southpaw allowed a Nittany Lions (2-8) squad, which came to Starkville hitting .217 as a team, three runs on five hits and having right-handed hitters hit 4-for-9 Tuesday evening.
“We need to get C.T. out there as the 16th different arm we’ve thrown this season already,” Cohen said. “He was drafted out of high school
as a pitcher and threw the ball 91 (miles per hour) tonight. He was
rusty with the command.”
Caleb Reed, the senior preseason All-American selection, end his third
save of the season after he came into the game during a two-strike
count in the eighth inning. Following a successful pick off play and a
strike, Reed had successfully tip-toed through his worst jam of the
Bradford’s struggles on the mound were minimized by MSU’s ability to
get on base against Nittany Lions starting pitcher Mike Franklin
(0-1), who was also making his first start of the season.
After Wes Rea blasted a 400-foot foul ball down the left field line,
MSU outfielder Demarcus Henderson and shortstop Adam Frazier would
score on wild pitches on consecutive throws with Franklin seemingly
startled with Rea’s power.
“If it would’ve been fair, I got it pretty good,” Rea said with a
smile. “I’d like to think that was on me but our base runners did an
Rea would actually get some RBIs in the box score off a two-run hit in
the eighth inning that expanded a 4-3 Mississippi State lead into a
three-run comfortable advantage for Reed in the final frame. Rea, the
Bulldogs cleanup hitter, finished the night with two hits and drove in
The two teams conclude their first-ever baseball series tonight with a
6:30 p.m. contest at Dudy Noble Field.