Saturday May 12, 2012No. 25 Mississippi State Blanks No. 5 UF Baseball, 2-0, To Square Series
Junior Kendall Graveman and freshman Jonathan Holder combined on a three-hit shutout as No. 25 Mississippi State (31-19/13-13 SEC) evened its weekend series with a 2-0 win over No. 5 Florida (37-14/15-11 SEC) on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium. Graveman (4-3) limited the Gators to a three singles over 7.2 innings to earn the victory, while Holder set down all four hitters he faced to register his fourth save. It marked just the second time that UF has been held scoreless this season (3-0 at No. 16 Ole Miss on March 30). The teams will play the rubber match tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the Orange and Blue’s regular-season finale at home.
“Kendall Graveman threw the ball great tonight,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He only walked one and Mississippi State turned a double play that was key. We couldn’t do anything offensively tonight. We had one inning with runners on first and third with none out and we needed to score one run there. We needed to hit a fly ball to at least cut the lead in half, and who knows what could have happened from that point on. We just need to do a better job offensively, manufacture runs and when we get the opportunity to score, we need to have better at-bats.”
The Bulldogs seized a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out RBI single by sophomore Hunter Renfroe (3-for-4). Sophomore Adam Frazier (2-for-3, two runs) led off the game with an infield single off sophomore Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) (4-2) and sophomore Taylor Stark was hit by a pitch for two runners aboard. Crawford struck out junior Mitch Slauter and had a fielder’s choice by junior Trey Porter erase Stark at second base for out number two. Renfroe opened the scoring with his fourth hit of the series, a base-knock into left field that brought home Frazier.
Graveman retired the first five Gators of the game before freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) (2-for-4) reached on a two-out error by junior third baseman Sam Frost in the second. Junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) was hit by a pitch for the first time this season but Graveman kept Florida off the scoreboard by having freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) ground out to shortstop.
MSU filled the bags with two down in the third but was held at bay by Crawford. Stark drew a one-out walk and moved into scoring position on a base-hit up the middle with two down by Porter. Another infield single by Renfroe loaded the bases and Crawford had freshman Phillip Casey ground out to junior shortstop Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) to end the frame.
Casey provided the Bulldogs with a 2-0 lead on a two-out RBI single with the bases full in the fifth. After Frazier walked on four pitches to start the inning, senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) replaced Crawford (4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 K, 2 BB). Stark advanced his teammate to second with a sacrifice bunt and a grounder by Slauter failed to move Frazier to third. An intentional walk to Porter was followed by a free pass to Renfroe that loaded the bases for the second time in the contest. Casey delivered a single into left field to drive in Frazier and Larson (0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB) was replaced by freshman Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.). The southpaw had freshman Matthew Britton fly out to shallow center field, where senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) made a sliding catch.
Shafer started the home part of the inning with the Gators’ initial hit, a single into center field on Graveman’s first pitch. Maddox followed with a single into right center that gave Florida runners on the corners. Tobias lined out to third base and then Graveman had junior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
The Bulldogs loaded the bases again in the sixth but could not push anything across. Frost was hit by a pitch with one down and Frazier reached an infield single to shortstop for two men on base. Sophomore Keenan Kish (Worcester, Pa.) took over for Poyner (0.2 IP, 1 H) and had a fielder’s choice by Stark to third base force Frost for the second out. Kish was charged with a balk to advance both runners into scoring position and issued a walk to Slauter that loaded the bases. The reliever had Porter ground out to increase the Bulldogs’ left on base total to 11 in the contest.
Renfroe began the seventh with a double to straightaway center field for his second-consecutive three-hit outing and Kish responded with three strikeouts in a row of Casey, Britton and Rea to keep the Gators down by two runs.
In the bottom of the stanza, freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) reached on a one-out throwing error by Frost and Shafer followed with a single into right field. A grounder by Maddox moved Shafer and Turgeon to second and third base, respectively, and Graveman struck out Tobias to escape the jam.
Frazier drew a one-out walk in the eighth, stole second and when to third on an errant relay throw by junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.). Kish fanned Stark and had Slauter fly out to right field to prevent the runner from scoring.
Fontana earned a walk with one down in the home portion of the frame, the first permitted by Graveman, and Pigott flew out to center field, prompting a pitching change. Over 7.2 scoreless innings, Graveman allowed three hits, with three strikeouts and a walk. Holder had senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) ground out to end the inning and then worked a 1-2-3 ninth to complete the contest. The Bulldogs held a 7-3 advantage in hits and stranded 13 runners.
· The Gators will be playing a deciding third game in SEC play for the seventh time this year (3-3 record).
· Both Florida and Mississippi State are 4-4 in game three of conference series in 2012.
· Freshman Justin Shafer registered his seventh multiple-hit game of the year.
· Sophomore Jonathon Crawford made his first start since April 29 against Arkansas and it was his 11th start of the season.
· Sophomore Keenan Kish matched his career high of four strikeouts.