MSU pitcher Nick Routt works against Kentucky on Saturday at the SEC Tournament. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)
HOOVER, Ala. â€“ Mississippi State's Nick Routt is a veteran pitcher who has been through the postseason before.
As a junior, Routt has already enjoyed a measure of success at this time of the year.
Routt struck out six batters last season at the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, Ala., against the 18th Arkansas Razorbacks.
He followed that up with a complete-game and six strikeouts in the Atlanta Regional as the Bulldogs defeated host Georgia Tech 7-3. The outing landed him on the NCAA Atlanta Regional All-Tournament Team.
Routt was at it again for MSU on Saturday with 3.1 innings of scoreless relief with four strikeouts to help his team to a 2-1 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.
At this stage of the tournament, Routt gave MSU coach John Cohen exactly what was needed on the mound.
"I thought Nick Routt was a star (Saturday)," Cohen said. "He was just waiting for an opportunity, got it and took full advantage of it.
"This time a year when you have new guys stepping forward it's very beneficial in a situation like this with five games in five days. You need guys to step forward to be successful."
Routt, who improved his record to 3-5 this season, entered the game against Kentucky with two runners on base and two outs. He struck out A.J. Reed looking with a breaking pitch.
"That was huge," Cohen said. "It was a defining moment in the game. He's really worked hard to get the change back."
Routt felt like the strikeout of Reed "set the tone," and he went on to strike out three more Wildcats with his curve and change up.
He was glad to see the change up become effective for him once again.
"I'm back to a comfort level that I used to have with it," Routt said. "I'm throwing it well right now. It's a circle change."
Routt looks to take that confidence into further postseason opportunities that hopefully lasts well into June.
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