LAFAYETTE, La. — Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen isn’t going to let the final memory of Brett Pirtle’s two years as a Bulldog be something regretful.
Even though Pirtle made the final out in a 5-3 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette in the championship game of the NCAA tournament Lafayette Regional on Monday night, Cohen offered Pirtle some of the highest praise a coach can give a player.
“I think Brett will go down as one of the best second basemen to ever play at Mississippi State,” Cohen said. “I think he is the best defensive second baseman in the country.”
Pirtle joined teammates C.T. Bradford and Jonathan Holder on the all-tournament team after getting 11 hits in the four games and hitting .647 in the regional. Whether it was San Diego State, Jackson State, or ULL, no one had an answer for Pirtle.
For a player who came to MSU from a junior college in Tyler, Texas, where he hit .222 and was seen as a defensive replacement, Pirtle’s two seasons at MSU couldn’t have been more fulfilling.
“Hopefully some of what I just said before will go through his mind because he’s earned the right to feel that way,” Cohen said. “Brett Pirtle and others have done so much for Mississippi State baseball and are winners in every way.”
In his final college game, Pirtle had three hits and teamed with Bradford to be the catalysts that helped MSU chip away at a 4-0
The 5-foot-9, 174-pound Pirtle had a streak of 36 consecutive games in which he reached base this season. He led the team with a .363 batting average and a .437 on-base percentage, and tied for third on the team with 31 RBIs.
Pirtle also was known for making highlight reel plays with his glove and arm. When asked what was on his mind when going down the first-base line after he struck out for the third out and tried to reach on a dropped third strike two outs in the ninth, Pirtle said he was trying to make something happen.
“You’re still hoping the catcher makes an error or something to give your team a chance at tying up the game,” Pirtle said. “Trotting down the line you’re not thinking about anything other than you’re hoping he throws it in the back of your helmet.”
Pirtle drove in the final run of the season with a scoring single through the right side of the infield to cut the Ragin’ Cajuns’ advantage to 4-3.
Pirtle’s final four games of his college career can serve as a reminder to MSU fans what a player can do to create a legacy and how someone can be a leader. Cohen, who played at MSU from 1987-90, appreciates what Pirtle did to help restore the program’s tradition.
“When you have seniors that act like leaders, and we certainly did, you hate to see them go out on this note,” Cohen said. “We didn’t accomplish what we wanted this season, but each and every one of them leave here winners.”
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