April 9, 2013 10:37:52 PM
PEARL - Mississippi State University baseball fans everywhere had the exact situation they could hope for.
The Bulldogs most consistent hitter was at the plate with the bases loaded in a tie game late in the game. In the fifth inning, Adam Frazier rewarded the optimism of those fans in maroon and white with a two-RBI single to left field to give MSU its first and and final lead of Tuesday night's Governor's Cup matchup.
"It's all about not giving up and understanding that a pitch you can do something with will come," Frazier said. "Honestly I felt like I wasn't coming through in those situations lately and it was good to make sure to get a key hit there."
No. 21 MSU (27-9) took its fourth victory in five games against its in-state rival with a 5-1 victory in front of a record announced crowd of 8,240 at Trustmark Park.
Before last weekend against the University of Florida, Frazier was suffering through a 5 for 36 (.138) slump where he was making solid contact but not getting rewarded for his effort. Now the junior shortstop has recorded hits in four of his last five games and a RBI in three straight matchups.
Frazier dumped a fastball the opposite way to short left field to score sophomore Wes Rea and junior C.T. Bradford with two outs against Rebels reliever Brady Bramlett.
"It was just finally great to see one fall tonight," Frazier said. "I hadn't changed much about my approach but stayed patient with the understanding that eventually this balls I was putting barrel on would fall. As we all know, as long as they fall for hits, that's all anybody will remember."
The clutch single by Frazier ended a stretch where MSU got the leadoff batter on base in five consecutive innings and didn't plate a run. Ole Miss starting pitcher Josh Laxer walked the tight rope brilliantly of pitching his way in and out of trouble for 4 2/3 innings. The sophomore righty allowed just one run on two hits but was hampered by wildness that led to five walks in a 87-pitch effort.
Frazier, who is a Dick Howser Trophy preseason nominee and likely high selection in the 2013 MLB draft, is still the player MSU coach John Cohen wanted up their the most on his club because of his consistency throughout his three-year career.
"He is just one of those guys that just gets hits and gets hits when it matters," Cohen said. "He just knows how to play because he understands counts and how to get his barrel in position and that's a skill that is hard to teach in a 18-year period before a kid ever gets to us. You either have that feel or you don't and he has it."
Ole Miss (23-10) has lost six games in a row to Southeastern Conference opponents after losing the final two games to Florida before being swept by Vanderbilt University in Oxford. The Rebels were unable to manage to get only two runners on base after scoring its only run in the second inning.
"At the end of the day we're not tough enough," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. "You just can't walk 10 guys and hit a guy and expect to win. It's amazing they only got five runs."
After struggling to find any velocity throughout his 1 1/3 innings, Brandon Woodruff was quickly lifted for soft-tossing left-handed sophomore Ross Mitchell. In his 15th appearance this season, Mitchell cruised through the Ole Miss lineup multiple times to allow just two hits in a shutout performance over six innings to win the game's most outstanding player award.
"Usually I throw my change up more but tonight I went with breaking ball first pitch and they just taking those for strikes," Mitchell said. "Once they let me get ahead, I went with my best pitch, fastball, and kept thinking you have to win with your best pitch so throw it."
Woodruff, who had been impressive in his last start at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Ala., was able to limit the damage to just one run despite mysteriously only topping out at 81 miles-per-hour in his outing. Cohen said his sophomore right-hander wasn't dealing with an injury but was more than confident to go to Mitchell to keep the Bulldogs in the game. In his 82-pitch outing Tuesday night, Mitchell lowered his season ERA from an already impressive 1.12 to 0.98.
"I attacked them the same way I normally do and after every game i talk to you, it seems like I say the defense may every play possible," Mitchell said.
Since suffering its fourth weekend series loss at the University of Arkansas, MSU has rallied to win five of its last six games against teams ranked in the Top 30 of the latest ratings percentage index. The Bulldogs swept the two games in Pearl for only the second time under the five-year tenure of Cohen.
""I think our kids feel a little bit of momentum and I can see that right now," Cohen said. "You have to grind through games like this where your energy level is down and good clubs just find a way to shake through that and win. We obviously did that tonight."
Six different players had a hit Tuesday including junior Derrick Armstrong, who was getting his first at-bat since March 19, got a single and a run scored.
MSU will now focus its attention to a SEC weekend road trip to Texas A&M University where senior left-hander Luis Pollorena will likely open the weekend in front of friends and family in his home state Friday night for a 6:35 p.m. start time. The matchup with the Aggies will be the first time in 15 years the two programs will meet in baseball. Ole Miss will return to Oxford to host the University of Alabama in a key matchup of struggling SEC Western Division foes.
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.
2. Local vampire film to debut in Columbus ENTERTAINMENT
4. Art Walk Downtown returns to Columbus Thursday ENTERTAINMENT
5. Final prep underway for free open-air play at MSU ENTERTAINMENT