Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen is trying to find Southeastern Conference wins with five opening night starters out with injuries Photo by: Mississippi State athletics
March 25, 2012 6:14:40 PM
STARKVILLE -- After surviving an emotionally-draining weekend at Dudy Noble Field, University of Arkansas head baseball coach Dave Van Horn can't wait to get on the bus back to Fayetteville.
"I was really proud of the team for holding it together even when we were two steps away from getting out of here in regulation with a win and losing it," Van Horn said. "I don't know when we scored and how but it seems like we've been here way too long today."
The third-ranked Razorbacks (22-3, 5-1 in Southeastern Conference) took two games from an injury-riddled Mississippi State University baseball club that has way too much attendance in the training room.
In season where 13 guys have been in and out of the training room, MSU (16-9, 2-4) had chances to steal a series from the third-ranked team but couldn't put together the clutch hits to overtake the Razorbacks Sunday.
"I really feel like our kids are doing everything they possibly can to keep us in games and to give us the best chance to win but it's not happening right now," Cohen said. "If any one of you had said listen 'you're going to lose five pretty important guys...and you're going to have a great opportunity with the rest of your club to take two of three from Arkansas and LSU, I would've said 'I don't see how that's possible'."
Arkansas gout multi-hit efforts out of six players in a 8-5 victory in 11 innings to win the final two games of the weekend series that looked bleak for them after a 11-2 loss on Friday evening.
"Bottom line we got four, five and six clutch hits this weekend and other than that they held us in check really the whole week," Van Horn said. "I can't do what (Cohen) is doing in that dugout with all those guys out. We didn't have a accurate report on some of their guys at this point in the season."
Due to the rash of injuries that have hit MSU's everyday lineup, MSU did not put out a single starter that had recorded an at-bat against Arkansas starting pitcher Randall Fant in their college career.
"We're still going to compete our tails off even though things aren't going our way off the field right now," Cohen said. "We're putting ourselves in the right position and it's not happening for us."
MSU was 1-fot-16 with runners in scoring position and the one hit was backup catcher Nick Ammirati's single in the ninth inning to produce the final score.
Junior right-handed pitcher Kendall Graveman, who was vomiting in the clubhouse prior to the game due to a major sinus infection, went 5 1/3 innings for MSU while giving up just a pair of runs while recording eight ground ball outs.
"I think he was fine and I would've never know (about the sinus infection) but our trainer saw him getting sick," Cohen said. "He would've never said anything to anybody."
Arkansas had to survive another poor outing from its third starter Fant as the junior southpaw couldn't get out of the second frame after allowing two runs when the first four MSU batters reach base. Van Horn admitted after the game his staff may have to make an adjustment in the starting rotation as they head to No. 12 LSU net weekend starting Friday.
Arkansas took its first lead of the game in the seventh inning when Razorbacks first baseman Dominic Ficociello, who was drafted out of Fullerton (Calif.) High School by Detroit in the 23rd round, get a towering fly ball that landed just in front of center fielder Hunter Renfroe.
MSU would extend the game in the bottom of the ninth with Ammirati's single off Razorbacks closer Barrett Austin. It would represent Austin's first blown save of the season and the first run he'd allowed in over 20 innings stretching over 11 appearances.
"We're right on the brink and when everything starts going our way, this is a really, really good baseball team," Cohen said. "This is a team that can win the national championship. We're so stinking close even with no experience on the field."
Sam Frost led the offensive charge for MSU with a 3-for-3 effort at the plate in a reserve role and the walk-on junior went 5-fot-7 this weekend with an .857 slugging percentage.
With the loss, MSU sits in fifth in the Western Division after two weekends of play but still in the mix to qualify for the SEC Tournament in Hoover due to the new 10-team format.
No. 3 Arkansas (22-3, 5-1 in SEC) 8,
Mississipppi State (16-9, 2-4) 5
W - Colby Suggs (2-0) IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K in 25 pitches
L - Caleb Reed (0-4) 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 4 K in 91 pitches
S - Cade Lynch (2) 2/3 IP, H, 0 R in 9 pitches
Most Valuable Player: Arkansas designated hitter Jimmy Bosco (2-for-6, 3 RBI and run scored)
Turning Point: 4th inning - MSU had first and second with no outs and leadoff hitter Adam Frazier hit a line drive to first base that was easily turned into a 3-6 triple play. It is the second triple play the Bulldogs had hit into in 10 days.
"I've never had a club into a triple play in 20 years and now we've done it two times on the same exact play - a bullet to the first baseman," Cohen said.
Number of the day:
1-for-16: What MSU hit with runners in scoring position today against Arkansas. The Bulldogs were 1-for-19 the past two days.
8 - Number of ground ball outs MSU starting pitcher Kendall Graveman recorded today. The junior RHP has had 27 ground ball outs in his last two starts.
.714 - The batting average for MSU junior reserve infielder Sam Frost this weekend. The little-used walk-on is now hitting .308, which sits fourth on the team.
5 - Number of opening day starters (RHP Ben Bracewell, CF C.T. Bradford, RF Brent Brownlee, LF Taylor Stark, 3B Daryl Norris) that were out with injuries in today's starting lineup.
0 - Number of career at-bats the entire MSU lineup had against Arkansas starting pitcher Randall Fant
Next game: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. vs. Alcorn State University
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
4. A Stone's Throw: Beware COLUMNS