Cohen earns 500th career win
Published 9:48 am Monday, February 17, 2014
Ole Miss knocks hats off Stetson
Mississippi State started the weekend with a loss, but finished it with a series victory and a milestone.
Brett Pirtle keyed a five-run third inning with a bases-clearing triple, and the Bulldogs went on to beat Western Carolina 7-2 in the finale of their season-opening series Sunday afternoon in Starkville.
The win was the 500th of MSU coach John Cohen’s career. He’s won 179 games in five seasons-plus at Mississippi State. He’s also been the head coach at Northwestern State and Kentucky.
“It means I’m a lot older than I thought I was,” Cohen joked about reaching the milestone. “You hear coaches say that a lot. When I was younger I heard many coaches that I really look up to say it just means you’re getting old. I would laugh, and now it happens to me. I’ve been around some great players and coaches.”
Mississippi State lost the series opener on Friday night, but rebounded to outscore Western Carolina 13-3 in the last two games. Trevor Fitts turned in a strong pitching performance on Saturday, and on Sunday it was everyone else’s turn.
Freshman starter Dakota Hudson allowed one run in four innings before giving way to the bullpen. Five relievers combined to throw five shutout innings. Ben Bracewell went 11⁄3 innings to earn the win.
The pitching was backed by timely hitting. After Wes Rea was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, Pirtle cleared them with his two-out triple in the third inning. Pirtle then scored on a base hit by C.T. Bradford to give the Bulldogs a 5-0 lead.
MSU added two more runs in the eighth inning on an
RBI single by Zack Randolph and a bases loaded walk to Alex Detz.
Western Carolina scored on a solo home run by Jacob Hoyle in the fourth inning and an RBI single by Reece Strong in the ninth.
“We saw really good arms and we did not have compete well offensively. But we got the big hits when it mattered and we did a nice job with the strike zone to bring some walks and some pressure,” Cohen said. “Our bunting game, short game needs to get better. The bell cow is the defense and the pitching. When that shows up, we’ve got a chance to win every ballgame.”
Ole Miss 8, Stetson 2
Ole Miss left the Hatters mad.
Preston Overbey hit two home runs, Will Allen went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs, and the Rebels (3-0) completed a lopsided opening-weekend sweep of Stetson. Ole Miss outscored the Hatters 26-3 in the three games.
Ole Miss had 17 hits in Sunday’s finale. Eight players had at least two hits apiece. Starting pitcher Sam Smith threw five strong innings and the bullpen carried a shutout into the eighth inning.
“This was a great weekend for us to start the season,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “We didn’t play as cleanly today, but sometimes you won’t play well and still have to find a way to win. We weren’t as efficiently offensively, but we were aggressive and that happens sometimes.”
McNeese State 7, Southern Miss 1
Southern Miss’ replacement opponents provided competition, but no favors this weekend.
Reed Gordy went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, and Clay Payne had three hits to lead McNeese State past the Golden Eagles in the Lake Area Classic in Lake Charles, La. McNeese scored three times in the third inning, and three more times in the seventh.
Nick Dawson had three hits for Southern Miss, while Mason Robbins and Joey Harris had two apiece.
Southern Miss was originally scheduled to host Stony Brook this weekend, but a snowstorm prevented the New York school from making the trip. USM joined Missouri — which also lost an opponent to travel issues — Chicago State and McNeese for a hastily-arranged round robin tournament.
Southern Miss lost two of three in the series, and needed a six-run rally in the ninth inning for its one win Saturday against Chicago State.