FILE - Mississippi State junior pitcher Kendall Graveman gets a shutout victory at No. 6 Florida in a 2-0 win. Photo by: MSU athletics
May 13, 2012 4:44:41 PM
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Kendall Graveman and Jonathan Holder combined on a three-hit shutout as No. 25 Mississippi State blanked No. 5 Florida 2-0 in a Southeastern Conference baseball game played Saturday night at McKethan Stadium.
The Bulldogs threw their fifth shutout of the season. It is only the sixth time in Kevin O'Sullivan's 309 games as head coach that the Gators have been shut out. MSU will face the rubber game of a weekend conference series for the fifth time this season Sunday afternoon.
With the victory, the Bulldogs improved to 31-19 overall and 13-13 in league play. MSU also nailed down a berth in this season's SEC Tournament, which begins May 22 in Hoover, Ala. The Maroon and White are tied with Ole Miss for second place in the Western Division standings. Florida fell to 37-14 and 15-11.
"We had so many opportunities but we did take advantage of a few," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "Kendall is such a warrior. He carried the whole team on his shoulders tonight. We defended it well. We pitched it well. If you do those things, you are going to win a lot of games in this league."
Graveman (4-3) worked 7 2/3 innings, allowing three hits, with one walk, one hit batsman and three strikeouts. Graveman faced six batters past the minimum. Jonathan Holder retired all four batters he faced, with two by strikeout, for his fourth save.
MSU scored the run it needed in its first at-bat. Adam Frazier led off with a single. Taylor Stark reached as a hit batsman. A groundout moved Frazier to third base. Frazier then scored on a Hunter Renfroe RBI-single.
A leadoff walk to Frazier opened the door for another Bulldog run in the fifth inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Stark, a two-out RBI-single by Phillip Casey brought the run home.
The Bulldogs left the bases loaded in the third, fifth and sixth innings but had done enough damage to win.
Renfroe paced MSU's seven-hit attack with three singles, while Frazier had multiple hits. Renfroe is now six-for-eight in the series and has collected six of his team's 13 hits, with back-to-back career-high three-hit games.
Starting pitcher Jonathon Crawford (4-2) took the loss for the Gators. Crawford lasted four-plus innings, allowing four hits and two runs (both earned). Justin Shafer had two of the Gators' three hits.
"You can't win a series until you win the first game," Cohen said. "I am so proud of the effort that we showed tonight. If you keep battling and you keep playing hard, good things are going to happen to you."
The series concludes with a noon CT runner game Sunday. MSU then closes its regular season with a four-game homestand, including Central Arkansas and Kentucky, at Dudy Noble Field. MSU and Central Arkansas meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, while the Bulldogs and Wildcats close out the conference slate with start times of 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday.