Radar guns are optional when Mississippi State's Ross Mitchell steps on the mound.
In Saturday's 5-4 College World Series victory over Oregon State, the left-hander recorded what he said was a personal-record 84 mph on one pitch during his 223 innings of scoreless relief.
Far more often, the speed lasers clock his offerings in the 60s and 70s — including one at 65 mph after the 84-mph pitch.
On the next pitch, the radar gun went blank.
“I probably broke it,” Mitchell said, smiling. “It wasn't picking anything up, so it probably thought it was messed up. Hey, I just pitch like who I am.”
The only numbers Mississippi State folks are interested in regarding Mitchell is 13-0 — his season record entering Monday night's Bracket One winners game against Indiana.
Fellow Mississippi State reliever Jonathan Holder, who throws in the 90s, isn't sure he could toss a 65-mph strike.
“But whatever Ross is doing, I hope he keeps it up,” Holder said. “It works.”
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“Finesse” probably isn't a strong enough word to describe Mitchell's style.
The 6-foot-1, 171-pound sophomore from Smyrna, Tenn., comes at batters with a three-quarter motion. He adds a funky hand position with the ball behind his glove until just before delivery.
“The starters set me up real well because I'm such a different pitcher,” Mitchell said. “The first time through the lineup, the other teams aren't used to me. It's the second time through the lineup where I really have to bear down.”
Mitchell's work against Oregon State on Saturday lowered his ERA to 1.31 and kept Mississippi State's deficit at one run long enough for an eighth-inning rally.
“I always feel we can come back,” he said. “We've got some hitters, one through nine. Even if the top of the order isn't producing, the bottom can.”
Mississippi State coach John Cohen said Mitchell's work as a middle reliever has helped set up a bullpen that has been critical to the Bulldogs' success.
“I don't know if there's a reliever in the country who is (13-0),” Cohen said. “That means he's really got good timing and can come in and vulture a win away from someone else, or he's just that good.”
Holder said the Mississippi State bullpen developed a comfort level early when Mitchell settled into his spot and succeeded quickly.
“Ross is the kind of guy who could throw six innings on Friday and four innings on Saturday and six more Sunday,” Holder said. “He can do anything. He's just here for the team.”
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