“That’s a clown statement,” Detz responded to catcher Nick Ammirati’s query. Though, given that the lady in question, Roxanne McVey, is a freshman defensive specialist for the Mississippi State volleyball squad, it’s not an unfair question. Besides, all clowning around was accepted in spirit Tuesday after a 13-2 rout of visiting Rhode Island.
Junior first baseman Detz did the heavy lifting in State’s tenth-straight victory of the season. His 2-of-2 performance with the three runs driven in, another scored, and a walk, headlined a cold evening where Bulldog bats were hot. Eight Dogs had at least one safety and ten scored a run or more in the first of two midweek games.
Rhode Island stayed winless on the season, though within the context of playing an ambitious Southern ‘snowbird’ stretch against Florida State, Ole Miss, and now MSU. Four Ram pitchers were battered for the total dozen hits with ten more walks issued, giving the home team a lofty on-base rate.
Detz was again in the order and lineup as Coach John Cohen held out veteran first baseman Wes Rea to protect a tender quadriceps. Rea did participate in pre-game and looked ready to play. Then again there was no reason to risk it, especially with juco transfer Detz getting it done. He was coming off another three-RBI game Sunday and over the weekend had batted 5-for-12.
This earned promotion to the fourth batting slot Tuesday, and Detz delivered. “I saw some fastballs today and I took advantage of them. I think in the four at-bats I had I saw mostly fastballs, not a lot of off-speed, which is surprising in the four-hole.”
Rhode Island managed seven hits, five of them off State starter Luis Pollorena in 4.1 innings for both of their runs. Pollorena struck out three and walked three. “I thought Luis was really good in some spots early in the game,” Cohen said. “In these conditions it’s difficult to command the baseball and for the most part he did a good job. He had some small misses.”
But the decision went to another Dog. Entering for the sixth, Chad Girodo completely shut the Rams down. In part the veteran lefthander credited the weather. “Nobody wants to swing because it’s so chilly.” That only downplayed how effective Girodo (2-0) was against guys who earlier had been making contact. He allowed only one hit, no walks, and struck out a pair in all three of his innings.
“I felt good tonight. It’s a little chilly, but you’ve still got to fill up the zone and get to the bottom, especially with this wind blowing like it.”
“Chad threw really well,” said Cohen. Girodo was able to keep his spots down but also bring the ball in on Rhode Island batters, making for some very tough swings with cold hands.
Ram starter Milan Mantle was even more uncomfortable in the conditions, absorbing a bad first-inning beating. Mississippi State scored all they needed in the opening frame as the first seven Bulldogs to bat reached and eventually came home. URI left Mantle (0-1) on the hill for experience, as he’d only tossed one out in the six previous games. This time he stayed for 2.2 innings with eight total runs on as many hits, three walks and two strikeouts.
Mantle probably knew his start wasn’t going to go well when SS Adam Frazier took the very first pitch into centerfield, and CF C.T. Bradford executed the run-and-hit perfectly for Dogs on corners. C Mitch Slauter smacked a shot that shortstop Tim Caputo could only try picking on the short hop, and missed for the RBI-single.
Whatever was said in the ensuing mound-visit didn’t help either. Detz bounced a double down the right side for a run; followed by three more singles though only LF Jacob Robson and DH Trey Porter got RBI credit. A wild pitch plated Robson before RF Demarcus Henderson got his hit. 2B Brett Pirtle plated Porter with a ground ball, and Henderson completed that inning’s offense by scoring on another dirtball.
State added the eighth run in inning two as Bradford bounced a double to the rightfield corner. Two fly balls moved him the remaining stops, with Detz lofting the sacrifice to rightfield.
Pollorena left one runner stranded in his first frame, and picked off another in the second. But in the third turn number-nine batter Tim Caputo notched the first Ram hit, and order-topper Jeff Roy singled to rightfield. It should have been a routine cover but Henderson let the roller through for a two-base error and run. Pinch-batter Ryan Olmo singled to center for a second run, and Pollorena needed two well-struck flies to centerfield to strand a pair after four hits in the inning.
Pollorena scuffled around putting a pair on his is fourth, with a double-play sparing damage. An out and walk into the fifth righthander Myles Gentry entered to strand the runner with a strikeout and grounder.
Mantle’s afternoon mercifully ended after putting four on base in the MSU third, though two had been outed trying to make third base. Steve Moyers inherited the remaining two, and after walking Frazier stranded everyone. He would work 3.1 innings with three runs on two hits, four walks and six strikeouts.
His first score came in the sixth when a high Slauter fly had rightfielder Jesse Lee lost, the ball going off his glove for a (ruled) triple. Detz knocked him in with a single. With two on and two outs Norris bounced to the left side. Joe Landi covered but overthrew his first baseman allowing substitutes Derrick Armstrong and Tyler Fullerton to come home for the 11-2 margin.
The other damage came at the expense of Kris Selvaggi. A walk of Bradford and another wild pitch had the pair in positions to score, and Frazier did as Selvaggi bounced a curveball off the plate for his third dirtball. Slauter was nicked and a walk of Nick Flair loaded all bases, with Armstrong grounding to the left side. Landi stepped on third bag for an out but also sailed his try for a double-play, scoring Bradford.
All the while Girodo was getting it done, his only challenge in the eighth as a 2B Sam Frost bobble put the lead Ram on. He would make third before a called strikeout kept URI from scoring any more pride points. “We had a lead and it was important to just pump strikes,” Girodo said. “And the guys had my back.” Freshman John Marc Shelly threw a one-hit ninth to finish bulldog pitching duties.
Besides Detz, there were two-hit contributions from Bradford, Slauter, and sub-shortstop Matthew Britton in the top half of State’s order. Bradford scored three times and Slauter twice. At the bottom of the Ram order Caputo went 3-of-4.
The original pitching plan was to start righthander Brandon Woodruff. That changed as with a four-game, three-day weekend ahead pitching coach Butch Thompson would like having Pollorena ready for relief or even short-start work later in the series with St. Joseph’s. Now Woodruff is expected to get the ball for Wednesday’s 4:00 game.