Cohen bullish on future
Coach says Bulldogs will 'win a national championship'
OMAHA, Neb. -- A somber, but still fiercely determined Mississippi State head coach John Cohen didn’t waste any time resetting expectations after falling to UCLA in the CWS Finals.
“We’re going to win a national championship,” Cohen said. “We’re going to keep knocking that door down.”
It’s one of the great injustices in sports when you lose in a championship series. The immediate reaction is to think that your season is a failure, even if you’ve done things your team hasn’t done before, as Mississippi State did this year in making the finals.
“I thought UCLA played a great ballgame, and we didn't,” Cohen added. “[I’m] really proud of our kids, you know? I think we -- what we did was knocked on the door -- and UCLA has knocked on the door before, several times, and they knocked down the door and we didn't do that.”
Still, it’s clear the foundation for championships has been laid. A record of 51-18, including an 11-4 mark in the postseason, does not come lightly. Brett Pirtle, a junior, had a 43-game on-base streak end Tuesday. He tied for the most hits in the CWS with seven.
Pitcher Kendall Graveman, who played his last game in a Mississippi State uniform, is confident the fans in Omaha have not seen the last of the Bulldogs.
“I think as far as Mississippi State goes, they will be back,” Graveman said. “Coach Cohen is doing the right things. This coaching staff has the team going in the right direction.
“There will be new faces next year but I have complete trust in Coach Cohen getting them where they need to be again and just like UCLA was here a couple of years ago I got a feeling this team will be back sometime in the future.”
What the Bulldogs did do, regardless of being outscored 11-1 in the two games of the finals, is take their school and their fans on quite a ride. Junior Hunter Renfroe, who hit one of just three home runs in the CWS, said while the outcome wasn’t what he wanted, the journey, probably his last in a Mississippi State uniform, was something else.
“You cannot ask for anything better than what we have had here at Mississippi State,” Renfroe said. “The fans here, you seen the turnout every game that we had here -- it's just amazing the people in Mississippi -- and we're truly blessed for the support we have had and in my career here.
“I couldn't ask for a better junior year and a better team to do it.”
Still, Cohen came back to his need to overcome what UCLA overcame Tuesday night -- losing a CWS Finals.
“I really appreciate the comments about taking this team -- this team going further than any other has, but what they have done is laid some foundation for some future teams, because we're going to come back here and we're going to win this thing,” he said. “That's what we're here to do, that's why I came to Mississippi State, and we're going to keep knockin' that door down.”