Mississippi State University (11-10 ,0-3 SEC) met Alcorn State University (6-13, 1-5 SWAC) in a Tuesday night midweek showdown at Dudy Noble field. Zach Neff, a transfer senior from Belleville, Illinois, got the start.
He threw for four innings and gave up four hits as the team went on to snap a four game losing skid with a 17-1 win. Head coach Gary Henderson said Neffs' limited action was designed intentionally, and the team stayed loose.
“It is exactly what we wanted, he will be able to come in on Friday night late,” Henderson said. "That was why we designed it that way. I was really happy those guys were able to stay loose.”
The team scored 17 runs on 18 hits. Josh Hatcher, a freshman from Albany, Georgia, was one of the players who stood out offensively hitting 4-5 that night, with two doubles and two RBI. Hatcher said the game gave some confidence to the team who just came off of a series where they scored four runs in three games.
“It is great, we got a lot of laughs, got a lot of smiles,” Hatcher said. “The team gets a lot of good energy from that, and we hope to build on that, and carry it in to tomorrow and hopefully this weekend.”
The start of the scoring onslaught came in the first inning after Jake Mangum hit a leadoff triple to centerfield. Luke Alexander stepped up and delivered a bomb to right field, making the score 2-0. Hatcher said seeing Mangum start out this strong gave the team a good feeling about the game.
“Jake usually sets the tone for us a lot of the time,” Hatcher said. “He is a really big leader on this team, and a lot of guys look up to him, including me. To see him get going early like that it just gives everyone a good feeling about the game.”
Hatcher also came in to pitch in the seventh inning and threw two innings, giving up one hit and issuing four strikeouts. He said he was already warmed up from throwing in the field, so this was not an issue for him.
“I threw a lot during high school, and then just having the ability to focus one pitch at a time,” Hatcher said. “Coach Henderson talks about that a lot, and that is something you have to do, you just have to go one pitch at a time whether it’s on the mound or in the box.”
Henderson said he did not remember exactly when he decided Hatcher would pitch. He did have four guys pitch and Neff, the starter, threw the most innings with four.
“I was really glad to get him back out there, and he threw strikes, and all three pitches, and got some punch outs,” Henderson said. “It is useful, it is beneficial, no question. He is really a talented kid. Having guys like that can come in, and have not been on the mound in four or five weeks, and throw strikes with three pitches is pretty rare.”
MSU will play Texas Southern University tonight at 6:30 p.m., and will travel to the University of Missouri this weekend for their first SEC road series of the season.