February 17, 2013 4:33:16 PM
STARKVILLE - As he put his feet up on his desk earlier this week, Mississippi State University pitching coach Butch Thompson had a smile on his face when he proclaimed these words about the veteran on his pitching staff.
"Don't everybody forget about Kendall Graveman now," Thompson said. "He's one of those guys that I have faith in him that he'll be better the minute the season starts."
In his 30th career start Graveman put any concerns to rest about his effectiveness in 2013 after his sports hernia injury that resulted in offseason surgery. The senior right-hander was back to his old style in his first start of the season lifting No. 5 MSU to a 7-1 victory over the University of Portland.
Graveman, who has always been a pitch-to-contact guy, rolled 10 ground ball outs and didn't allow a single ball in play out of the infield till the fifth frame. The 1-through-4 hitters in the Portland order was 1 for 13 in the contest with the only run scored.
"The sink was there and it went well," Graveman said. "I felt good getting down the mound, which was something I wasn't able to do after the injury. I think for the final 3 1/3 I was pretty effective."
MSU (3-0) got things going offensively off Portland starting pitcher Zach Torson (0-1) in the fourth inning when freshman outfielder Jacob Robson got a RBI-single to left field and was quickly driven home on a RBI-triple by junior shortstop Adam Frazier.
Frazier, who was selected for Team USA this summer, is currently 6 for 12 with 3 runs scored and 3 RBI so far this season.
The Bulldogs gave up their first run from the bullpen Sunday afternoon after 8 2/3 innings of scoreless relief from eight consecutive hurlers.
MSU senior catcher Mitch Slauter increased his hitting streak to seven games dating back to last season and is 6 for 9 with six runs scored and four RBI and three walks at the plate this season. Slauter had his fourth career home run in the fifth when he crushed a pitch into left field lounge off Portland reliever Kody Watts.
Mississippi State (3-0) 7,
Portland (0-3) 1
W - Kendall Graveman (1-0) 6.1 P, 2 H, 0 R, 4 K, 4 BB in 92 pitches.
L - Zach Torson (0-1) 3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 K, 3 BB in 73 pitches.
Most Valuable Player: Senior right-handed pitcher Kendall Graveman - The senior from Alexander City, Ala., answered all the questions needed to start the 2013 season after offseason surgery to correct a sports hernia injury. The right-hander didn't allow a ball hit out of the infield until the fifth inning and worked 6 1/3 innings of two-hit effort from the mound that included four strikeouts in 92 pitches.
Turning Point: 4th inning - MSU used a three-run fourth frame to brake a scoreless tie that included a RBI-single by freshman outfielder Jacob Robson and 2-RBI triple by junior shortstop Adam Frazier.
Next game: Sunday nightcap of the doubleheader starting at approximately 4:30 p.m. vs. Portland
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.
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