Bulldog Bats Come Alive As MSU Takes Two To Keep Season Alive

“You like that?” Andy Cannizaro called out.
“Love it,” came the reply.

“Gotta wake ‘em up!” Cannizaro yelled back.

————————

Mississippi State’s offense had been struggling. Their head coach wasn’t going to criticize his players, but Andy Cannizaro knew his team had been having trouble at the plate. A team that entered the final two weeks of the season in position to win the SEC because of its explosive offense had suddenly seen the fireworks go dark.

In their last 10 games before Sunday, the Bulldogs had scored more than five runs only once their last 10 games, and eight of those outings had seen totals of four or less. Even in their last 16 games, they’d only broken five three times.

On Sunday morning, MSU was facing the end of its season, playing an elimination game against the University of Illinois Chicago in the Hattiesburg Regional. The Bulldogs had only mustered three runs on six hits in their loss to South Alabama in their last game, and if they couldn’t get better production at the plate, it wouldn’t matter how great Konnor Pilkington was on the mound – their season would be over.

It was early in the day, with a first pitch scheduled for 10 a.m. and team breakfast having taken place three hours before at 7 a.m. Just before the game, when all the bats had been gathered up in a bag and brought to the dugout to be hung up, Cannizaro stopped the manager carrying the bag and grabbed a hold of it himself. With the team watching as he stood at the edge of the dugout, he started taking bats out and tossing them carelessly – and occasionally aggressively – onto the ground. He began by doing it one at a time, and eventually he started grabbing them by twos and threes and throwing them to the floor of the dugout.

On every bat or three, he’d yell some variation of the same thing.

“Gotta wake the bats up! Gotta wake ‘em up!”

At first bewildered, the players eventually joined the fun, laughing and cheering as Cannizaro heaved the normally carefully-handled bats to the ground. The bats won’t be put up until they’ve been woken up, they were told. And as the game went along, each player was instructed to toss their bat back into the pile after the at-bat.

The Diamond Girls in charge of tracking down bats after players get hits were hesitant at first when Cannizaro instructed them, too, to toss the bats to the ground instead of hanging them up like usual.

“No, I’m serious, throw it in there!”

By the end of the game, MSU had racked up 14 hits, the most they’d had all postseason, spread among eight hitters, and they defeated the Flames 5-4 to keep the season alive.

And when, four hours later, the bag was brought back to the dugout before MSU’s second elimination game of the day, Cannizaro again grabbed hold of it and started throwing bats by ones and twos onto the ground while the team looked on.

“Wake these bats up!”

When he discovered someone had taken a picture of he and his bat pile, Cannizaro just smiled and laughed.

“You like that?” he called out.

“Love it,” came the reply.

“Gotta wake ‘em up!” Cannizaro yelled back.

Slowly, starting with Hunter Stovall and Cody Brown after they both went yard in the same inning, the bats were allowed to be hung in their usual place as the game went along. 12 hits, three homers and seven runs later, their slumber had clearly ended, as MSU advanced yet again, this time taking down South Alabama 7-3.

The bats were officially awake.

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3 Responses to Bulldog Bats Come Alive As MSU Takes Two To Keep Season Alive

  1. steve whitehead says:

    Now THAT’S exceptional coaching! Hail damn State!!

  2. Susan says:

    Love this!!! Way to go coach!

  3. Bill G. says:

    Hail bats! Hail Coach! Hail State!!!

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