Cohen Debut: ‘It Was Really Strange…’

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Mississippi State defeated Northern Illinois 8-1 in John Cohen‘s Bulldog coaching debut. As he walked down the tunnel toward Dudy Noble Field before the game, he was having flashbacks. “It was really strange walking through that tunnel, I’ve got to be honest with you. I’ve felt that way everywhere I’ve been, but obviously being here it’s much, much different. You go back to your playing days and all the familiar faces, it’s a different experience. But I like to think when pitch No. 1 was thrown, we were focused on what we were doing.”

A six-run first inning gave the Bulldogs more than enough cushion. Ryan Collins, Connor Powers and Ryan Powers had two RBIs each, while Jet Butler had two hits, including a double. State stole three bases, including a double steal preceding Connor Powers’ two-run single to open the scoring. The fast start was the culmination of months of anticipation.

“It’s something we’ve really been waiting to have happen,” said Powers, who recorded the final out and gave Cohen the game ball. “We’ve been seeing it and envisioning it ever since we stepped foot back on campus, and everything’s been going with Coach Cohen.”

Forrest Moore worked three innings of relief for the win, and MSU pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts while limiting NIU to six hits.

Cohen has made a big impression on his players over the course of the offseason. He continued to do so tonight with his in-game managing.

Said starting pitcher Ricky Bowen: “I remember sitting in the dugout, I guess after the second inning, and just seeing how every so often he’d run out there and try to make an adjustment with a runner on base, try to do something to get somebody to move up, just always searching for a way to give the runner, the hitter an advantage. I love the intensity. It’s been fun in practice, but man, tonight was just at another level. It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of that.”

MSU will return to action Saturday against North Florida at noon and then NIU again at 4.

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