STARKVILLE – Brad Cumbest has served as part of a revolving door in left field this season, but the junior two-sport athlete may have finally earned his starting role this past weekend.
Cumbest, Brayland Skinner and Drew McGowan have all started games in left field this year, while Cumbest and Skinner have been switching in and out since conference play started midway through March.
The two have traded starts with Skinner, a lefty, mostly starting against right-handed pitchers and Cumbest, a righty, starting against left-handed pitchers.
That changed this weekend as Cumbest started all three games against Texas A&M, and he made his case for being the everyday starter.
He finished the weekend 4 for 12 at the plate with four RBIs and two of the biggest hits of the weekend.
“Yeah, I think so,” head coach Chris Lemonis said of Cumbest earning a more prominent role. “It’s easier to put him in the lineup when he does that. I’ve been playing Brayland against rightys and I finally said ‘Hey, I’m going to give Brad a few days to play.’ His swings have been good in the at-bats that he has got.”
Mississippi State trailed Texas A&M, 7-6, in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 on Friday night when Cumbest stepped up to bat with a 0-3 day.
He led off the inning with a double to left field then came around to score on a sacrifice fly to tie the game, 7-7, with two outs. MSU then went on to win the game on a Tanner Allen walk off home run in the 12th inning.
Cumbest had an 0-3 day in Game 2, only recording a RBI on a sacrifice fly to put MSU up, 3-0, in the fifth inning.
He had his best game of the weekend, and possibly the season, on Saturday night in Game 3.
Cumbest went 3 for 4 at the plate with a home run, two singles and three RBIs. After Texas A&M took an early 2-0 lead on pitcher Jackson Fristoe in the second inning, Cumbest tied the game with a two-run home run in the bottom half of the inning.
He then recorded a single in the fourth inning and came around to score to put Mississippi State up, 4-3, before he hit a RBI single to put MSU up 6-3 in the seventh inning.
Following his three-hit game, Cumbest is now hitting a team-high .375 this year with three home runs. He has the highest batting average on the team.
“Really, when I lay off the curveball and focus on the fastball I can do some damage,” Cumbest said on Saturday. “I get better and better after every at-bat. You just can’t complicate it. It’s a kids game. You just have to go out there and have fun.”