College World Series: No. 14 MSU (48-18) vs. No. 4 Oregon State (50-11), Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN2 (Karl Ravech, Kyle Peterson and Kaylee Hartung)
Mississippi State coach John Cohen spent a solid 30 minutes addressing the media this afternoon, a day before his team leaves for Omaha, Neb, to play in the College World Series.
This is MSU’s ninth trip to Omaha, and its first since 2007. The number of media at today’s gathering told you how big a deal this is, and Cohen talked about how former players like Rafael Palmeiro, Will Clark and Jay Powell had reached out to him to congratulate him on the accomplishment. Those are some big names.
“So many people have reached out to our players and staff, and we’re just very grateful,” Cohen said. “I do feel compelled to return messages to every single one of them. That’s the first thing I do in the morning. I get on the bike and start returning texts. Certainly I’m returning texts a lot longer than I can run on that bike. It’s really nice. It’s neat to have that many people reach out.”
As I said, Cohen spoke for a long time, so I’m just going to give you a few highlights here. Enjoy.
• On Oregon State: “They’re just so efficient in the short game. They run well. They have that nice combination in the middle of tremendous power with runners around the power. They have left handed pitching and a right-handed guy.”
• On winning against different styles of teams: “I really believe it’s all about you this time of year. The team that doesn’t hand the other team opportunities is the team that’s going to win. It’s the team that challenges the strike zone that’s going to win. You’ve got to dominate the average play and on occasion you’ve got to make the spectacular play at this time of year. That’s the equation that works for everybody.”
• On reliever Chad Girodo, who’s struck out 22 over his last two appearances (11 1/3 innings): “You know what’s funny is my own daughter asked, ‘Dad, why hasn’t he pitched more?’ Every time someone does something exceptional there’s a positive and negative, though I don’t think there’s really a negative with Chad Girodo. What we’ve done is extended him more out of need and he’s answered the bell.”
• On his plan for recruiting Alex Detz when he seemed headed for Oregon State: “That was a little bit of a challenge, I think we had an advantage in that I knew a lot of people that know him. His coach was a very good friend. His coach actually lived with me at the university of Missouri, if you can believe that. Not to say that that had anything to do with his decision but certainly when people are vouching for a coaching staff, certainly the more people you know, the better. I thought he’d be a tremendous fit for us. We knew we needed a two-hole type of left-handed bat.”
• On Hunter Renfroe catching a possum Monday night: “Yeah, we’ve had some conversations about the possum. Yeah, we had some conversations about that. You know, just when you think you’ve seen it all in 22 years, they have something like that. Hunter is certainly a great young man, and most of the time he makes really, really good decisions. I’m sure he’s, you know, I’m sure he’s rethinking it a little bit at this point.”
• On RHP Ben Bracewell, who was wearing a protective boot on his right foot: “I saw him throw a pen this morning and he was great. I thought Bennie was great. They are just doing that for precautionary reasons. I think he’s fine. I think (Jacob) Lindgren‘s ankle is doing a little bit better. Wes had a little thumb thing. I think this time of the year, every team at the College World Series has a group of five, six, seven kids who have these little tiny nagging things going on. We have some of those. I don’t think any of them are going to hinder playing time for our kids this weekend.”