April 6, 2013 6:53:06 PM
STARKVILLE - Not many can describe in detail how solid Kendall Graveman has been lately.
Not Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan. With a look that it was inevitable that the Mississippi State University senior right-handed pitcher would dominate them, O'Sullivan had no answer for the lack of offense Saturday.
Graveman had the University of Florida baseball team and coaches just shaking their head Saturday afternoon after pitching a five-hit, complete game shutout in a 2-0 series clinching win for the Bulldogs.
"Here's what's so impressive about Mr. Kendall Graveman: we get shutout, completely dominated and we leave here still thinking we're a good offensive team," O'Sullivan said.
Not MSU coach John Cohen.
"Real leaders aren't ones who talk all the time but they're people that do and Kendall had done," Cohen said. "I don't remember two starts like that by anybody in a long time that has played for me. You're talking about somebody today that had 19 ground ball outs, three double plays and only gets to a three-ball count three times."
The last MSU pitcher to throw back-to-back complete games was Chris Stratton last season as the junior went on to be named Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year and was selected in the first round of the 2012 MLB draft by San Francisco.
Not even Kendall Graveman himself can fully explain his dominance on the mound.
"The fastball movement was so good today and that's what led to all those ground ball outs," Graveman said. "I had to work harder today (than last weekend) but it still was good enough stuff for Butch Thompson to have faith in sending me out there for that ninth inning."
In the eighth inning, Cohen went out to talk with his senior pitcher and the announced crowd of 8,564 gave what it appeared to be Cohen and Lindgren a standing ovation for leaving him in the game.
"When Coach Cohen comes out of the dugout typically we know we're not coming out of the game," Graveman said. "So I knew that was a good sign and that I could go even further today."
With a 2-0 lead in that eighth inning, MSU junior second baseman Adam Frazier knew that the team and the fans wanted nobody but Graveman on the mound trying to finish what he'd started against Florida.
"Coach Cohen came out after Kendall thought he got a check-swing strikeout there and I even heard (Kendall) say 'why is he [Cohen] coming out here, I got this'," Frazier said.
Saturday marked the fourth career complete game from Graveman as he allowed just one Florida (14-18, 4-7) runner to reach second base all afternoon.
"I want to take nothing away from Mr. Kendall Graveman today," O'Sullivan said. "He's going to do that vs. lots of SEC teams before this year is over. You can just tell that he has a great understanding of what he is doing out there all the time. John and MSU has a special one there in Graveman."
MSU (26-8, 5-6) scored the only two runs of the game in the first inning off Florida starting pitcher Danny Young. This is a change of pace from recent developments for the Bulldogs in SEC play as they've typically found themselves in a deficit before the first frame has been completed.
"It just seemed like we got those first two runs and they had horrible at-bats the rest of the day," MSU senior catcher Mitch Slauter said. "It didn't feel like they wanted to be there and didn't compete very hard after that."
Frazier broke out of his slump in SEC play to go 2 for 4 Saturday with a double in the opening inning and scored one batter later on a RBI single to center field by junior designated hitter Alex Detz.
"I felt like I was putting good swings on balls and then sometimes I was just giving away at-bats for sure," Frazier said. "I can say that it was really nice to be on the other side of a first-inning lead for a change."
Saturday's win marked MSU's first series victory against the Gators since 2007 and first at Dudy Noble Field since 2006.
"We knew we were a good enough team to take a series from them and we knew that in those past series that we eliminated one play here or there and we would've already done it," Graveman said.
After the 2-0 victory, Cohen said MSU sophomore left-handed pitcher Jacob Lindgren (elbow) would throw in the bullpen under the watchful eye of Bulldogs pitching coach Butch Thompson before the 1:30 p.m. series finale against Florida. Cohen stated that if there was no soreness or problems from Lindgren that MSU's normal Friday night ace would get the baseball to make his sixth start of the season. The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog spoke with Thompson after the game and he said if Lindgren's slider is effective and there's no pain or soreness in his left elbow, then he's scheduled to start.
"I would say Jacob is very, very probable to start (Sunday)," Thompson said. "His Thursday bullpen looked absolutely great and there's two things I need to see: complete health and I need to see that slider be completely effective. I would say it's likely he will want it and will get the ball sure."
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.
3. Columbus tree lighting to have new look, locale ENTERTAINMENT