Tommy Lopez

About Tommy Lopez

MSU Baseball Ranked #2 Nationally

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI Sports/MSU Athletics) – Collegiate Baseball ranked the Mississippi State baseball team the No. 2 squad in the nation Friday in its preseason poll.

“It is a tremendous honor, but at the same time our kids know our goal goes far beyond preseason recognition,” head coach John Cohen said. “We are all aware of how much work we have in front of us.”

The No. 2 status is MSU’s highest since State took a school-best No. 1 preseason ranking into the 1989 campaign, when Cohen himself was a junior on the squad. Cohen and company handled expectations well, winning a school-record 54 games as well as the Southeastern Conference championship with a program-record 20 conference victories.

Cal State Fullerton is ranked No. 1 in the poll.

On the mound, the Maroon and White are led by right-hander Jonathan Holder and lefty Ross Mitchell, who were both named preseason All-Americans this past week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Holder tied the SEC single-season record for saves this past spring with 21 thanks to a 1.65 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings, while Mitchell finished 2013 as the only pitcher in the country with 13 or more wins without a single loss.

At the plate, the offense is anchored by 2013 College World Series All-Tournament Team members Brett Pirtle and Wes Rea, along with on-base machine Alex Detz. Pirtle, a senior, hit .336 in SEC play this past spring and during one stretch of the season reached base safely in 43-consecutive games. Rea, a redshirt junior, tallied multiple-RBIs in 13 games, the most of any returning player, while also finishing in the top-10 in the league in home runs despite playing in the spacious confines of Dudy Noble Field. Detz, a senior, finished ninth nationally with 53 walks and fourth in the conference with a .449 on-base percentage.

“I think all of our players and staff will enjoy this recognition for about five minutes, before we zero in on what it is going to take to truly earn a ranking like that,” Cohen added about his ballclub, which returns 19 lettermen.

Cohen’s crew opens up its 2014 campaign on Friday, Feb. 14, as the Bulldogs begin their 124th season with a 4 p.m. lid-lifter vs. Hofstra.

Full poll:

1. Cal. St. Fullerton (51-10) 495
2. Mississippi St. (51-20) 493
3. Louisiana St. (57-11) 491
4. Oregon St. (52-13) 487
5. Florida St. (47-17) 485
6. Oregon (48-16) 483
7. Indiana (49-16) 481
8. Louisville (51-14) 479
9. Vanderbilt (54-12) 477
10. N.C. State (50-16) 474
11. North Carolina (59-12) 471
12. Virginia (50-12) 468
13. Miami, Fla. (37-25) 465
14. South Carolina (43-20) 463
15. UCLA (49-17) 460
16. Florida (29-30) 457
17. Rice (44-20) 455
18. Oklahoma St. (41-19) 454
19. Texas Christian (29-28) 451
20. Texas (27-24) 450
21. Clemson (40-22) 447
22. Arizona St. (37-22-1) 445
23. La.-Lafayette (43-10) 443
24. Arizona (34-21) 441
25. Texas A&M (34-29) 437
26. Stanford (32-22) 435
27. Cal. Poly (40-19) 432
28. Kansas St. (45-19) 430
29. Alabama (35-28) 423
30. Mississippi (38-24) 421
31. Western Carolina (39-20) 419
32. Oklahoma (43-21) 417
33. San Diego (37-25) 414
34. Wichita St. (39-28) 411
35. Liberty (36-29) 409
36. Tennessee Tech. (40-17) 404
37. New Mexico (37-22) 403
38. East Carolina (31-26) 400
39. U.C. Santa Barbara (34-23) 396
40. Coastal Carolina (37-23) 395