Samford University senior right-handed pitcher Charles Basford gets the victory in eight scoreless innings in a 5-0 victory over Mississippi State in the opener of the 2012 NCAA Tallahassee Regional. Photo by: US Presswire
June 1, 2012 3:28:18 PM
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Samford University really does dig the long ball.
After attacking Mississippi State University for three home runs and tagging the MSU staff with four home runs total in a 5-0 victory, the Southern Conference champions proved their power is legit.
In their first ever NCAA Regional contest, Samford (40-21) dominated the 2012 Southeastern Conference champions and proved to be a serious contender to win this Tallahassee Regional hosted by Florida State.
"For all the questions about who you faced and how small your ballpark is and those kind of things we've been asked - four balls got out of here pretty quick tonight against a pretty good team," Samford coach Casey Dunn said.
It is first time MSU (39-23) has given up that many home runs since the final game of the 2011 Gainesville Super Regional when the top-seeded University of Florida tagged MSU pitching with five in a season-ending 8-6 loss.
Mississippi State ace right-hander Chris Stratton was beaten up by one of the nation's best offensive lineups as Samford put up the most balls out of the yard in the Tupelo native's three-year career with MSU. The projected first round pick in next week's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft allowed four runs (all of them off home runs) on six hits through 7 2/3 innings of work.
"It's very, very hard when you put that much pressure on your pitching staff to not give up runs," MSU coach John Cohen said. "The difference I thought today was we gave up two home runs (on counts of) 0-2 and we've set a pretty high standard in that area."
The first home run for Samford came off the bat of a likely source in right fielder Brandon Miller. The senior, who leads the nation with 23 home runs, easily deposited a 0-2 curveball that was left belt high deep into the parking lot behind the left field wall giving Samford an early lead.
"It was right there," Miller said with a smirk recognizing the pitch was in the middle of the zone. "We managed to hit his mistakes hard. We definitely thought we could hit this guy and it was a confidence booster that we struck first."
Neither team would create any offensive momentum through the next five innings of play before Samford sent Stratton to the locker room with three home runs off the 2012 SEC Pitcher of the Year. In what was likely the last pitch in an MSU uniform, Stratton's fastball was taken deep over the centerfield wall.
"They just did a real good job of going down and getting pitches and reminded me a lot of Kentucky with the way they could go down and get it," Stratton said. "They had a good plan and executed it really well."
Senior right-hander Charles Basford held MSU scoreless for the first time in 35 NCAA games. While pitching in his hometown of Tallahassee, Fla., Basford (10-2) scattered five hits with four strikeouts over an 131-pitch outing.
"What a pretty good homecoming for a local guy here huh?" Dunn said with a smile. "Obviously it was a great outing by Charles that set the tone for everything we did."
Basford said he'd "dreamed" of attending MSU as a high school pitcher in Tallahassee, Fla., and was hoping to get a call from then-MSU head coach Ron Polk.
"It was more of dream school coming out of high school knowing that it was a great program coached by one of the best in the game in Coach Polk," Basford said.
MSU got only one runner past second base the entire afternoon in a game that reminded Cohen of their confusion 2-0 loss to the University of Central Arkansas at Dudy Noble Field.
"We just didn't score in that game (against Central Arkansas) either and didn't recognize pitches at all," Cohen said. "I don't know if focus issue or what but we did a very poor job."
MSU will play the loser of Florida State-University of Alabama at Birmingham matchup later this evening as the No. 3 national seed Seminoles host the Conference USA tournament champions.
Since 2008, only six schools have come back from an 0-1 start to advance through NCAA Regional play. Two of those eight schools were not hosts of the regional.
Samford (40-21) 5.
No. 14 Mississippi State (39-23) 0,
W - Charles Basford (10-2) 8+ IP, 5 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K in 131 pitches
L - Chris Stratton (11-2) 7 2/3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 4 K in 119 pitches
MVP: Tie - Samford RHP Charles Basford and RF Brandon Miller
Turning point: A four-run eighth inning broke the game wide open with three Samford home runs propelling them to the 5-0 final score. It was long balls by Butler, Irby (who pitched the final inning out of the bullpen) and Durdaller for Samford to propel them to victory in their first NCAA Regional game in program history.
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.
Mississippi State, baseball, Samford, John Cohen, Trey Porter, Adam Frazier, Chris Stratton, Dick Howser Stadium, NCAA Tournament, Charles Basford, Brandon Miller, Casey Dunn
5. A Stone's Throw: Waving flags COLUMNS