By MATTHEW STEVENS
John Cohen has looked at the early season scores around the Southeastern Conference and doesn’t want that to happen to his club.
Tuesday night it didn’t as Mississippi State took care of business early in an 8-1 victory over Alcorn State at Dudy Noble Field.
After the game, the Bulldogs third-year coach was referencing the Southeastern Conference’s losses to the Horizon League, Mid-American Conference and Big South Conference opponents already in 2011 and made these upsets a point of emphasis when MSU came to the ballpark Tuesday night.
“These are the games that really frighten me,” Cohen said. “You’re always very concerned because when you’re at certain programs at the middle of the week and you get to play an SEC team, there’s huge incentive.”
The Bulldogs (8-1) put three runs quickly on the board when five of the first six batters reached base and put Alcorn State left-handed pitcher Brent Blaum (0-1) in an early hole.
Despite having a night where he said “he wasn’t feeling great” at the plate, fifth-year senior Jarrod Parks went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored against a Braves (2-6) squad that coming off a two-game winning streak.
“Sometimes you just wake up and it doesn’t feel good but I still managed to get some hits,” Parks said. “We wanted to come out and handle business early.”
The story again was on the mound as sophomore Kendall Graveman got his second career quality start by allowing just one run off three hits in seven innings of work while striking out seven Alcorn State batters.
“The deeper you can go in the ball game, it saves the bullpen and I’m on a seven-day routine right now anyway so I can go far in a game,” Graveman said.
Graveman’s 81-pitch performance was Mississippi State’s sixth quality start of the season and is only two fewer than all of the 2010 season combined. The sophomore’s only longer outing last year was an eight-inning effort in Pearl against Jackson State but only got an
“Kendall needed the work and he could end up being our Sunday guy because it really depends on the lineup he’s going to face because he is such a good matchup for teams in a small ballpark that hit fly balls,” Cohen said.
Parks energized the MSU offense again in the sixth inning with a two-RBI single to right field off Blaum to give Graveman a 6-0 cushion.
Tuesday night also marked the pitching debut for freshman C.T. Bradford as the former Mr. Baseball in the state of Florida threw a 15-pitch shutout in the final inning with driving in a run at the plate.
“It felt great because of all the bullpens I’ve been throwing but to get out on the mound at Dudy Noble was a great experience,” Bradford said.
Mississippi State will give its players the day off today while they prepare for a six-game in six day stretch that starts with a Friday contest against Georgia State on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.