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Pre-game at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium: SEC Tournament Round 3: No. 16 Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M - Bulldogs try to make 4 in a row against A&M




Matt Stevens


HOOVER, Ala. - Welcome to third consecutive night of the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium as The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog will bring you a comprehensive pre-game blog before the first pitch of every game the Bulldogs play in this event.  




Also feel free to follow me for live game updates on Twitter through @matthewcstevens 




WHAT HAPPENED WEDNESDAY: Freshman right handed pitcher Myles Gentry guided the No. 16 Bulldogs through the final 5 2/3 innings of the 5-3 victory over the No. 17 University of South Carolina in only his sixth appearance over the last two months. Gentry's side-arm motion from the right side was a valuable weapon in the first two months of the season but had struggled to get quality Southeastern Conference batters out lately. The 5-foot-11 prospect from Gulfport matched his career high for strikeouts with eight in his longest ever outing.  








PITCHER: Kendall Graveman - RHP - Senior - (5-5, 2.99 ERA, 15th start in 2013 season) - Simply put, following possibly the most dominant month by an SEC starting pitcher short of Louisiana State University's Aaron Nola, Kendall Graveman has been hit hard in the last month. The senior right hander is giving up over a base hit and nearly 1.5 base runners per inning on the mound leading to an increase in his ERA from 1.99 to 3.00. Graveman has given up eight extra-base hits and over four runs in three of his last four starts. Graveman was lifted with one out in the seventh inning against South Carolina last weekend after allowing five hits and two runs (both earned), with four strikeouts and a walk. The senior said he found more consistency in the bullpen before that start by being able to get his fingers on top of the baseball for more vertical spin to his sinker than side-to-side.  




PROJECTED STARTERS (2012 statistics): 




C - Nick Ammirati, Sr., RH - .283, 22 RBI; Has a hit in five of the last six games while holding down the catching position for injured teammate Mitch Slauter. Ammirati has seen his batting average grow 12 points over the last two weeks. Cohen expresses constantly he is MSU's best defensive catcher in terms of blocking and throwing.  




1B - Wes Rea, RS-Soph., RH - .293, 6 home runs, 32 RBI, .989 fielding percentage; Second on the team in home runs and slugging percentage (.469) and has started 38 games at first base after fighting through a quad injury earlier in the season. 




2B - Brett Pirtle, Jr., SH - .311, 2 home runs, 26 RBI, .980 fielding percentage; One of the more unique cleanup hitters in the country at 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds. Pirtle has gotten on base in 31 consecutive games and five RBIs in the last four games. 




SS - Adam Frazier, Jr., LH - .340, 15 doubles, 7 stolen bases. A preseason All-America team honoree that will likely be drafted in the first 10 rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft next month. Frazier is second on the team in average and was the 2012 SEC tournament most valuable player.  




3B - Alex Detx, Jr.., LH - .309, 29 RBI, .449 on-base % - Has 15 multi-hit games and will likely either be the designated hitter but has also had 20 starts at the hot corner. Detz and Frazier have combined as one of the more dynamic 1-2 combinations at the top of the lineup. 




LF - Demarcus Henderson, Jr., RH - .273, 17 runs scored, 15 RBIs. Named to the 2012 SEC All-Tournament Team and has started to heat up in the final month of the season. Had two three-hit days last weekend against the University of South Carolina. 




CF - C.T. Bradford, Jr., LH - .300, 42 runs scored, 19 walks, 22 RBI, .375 on-base %. Most experienced Bulldog outfielder has seen his average jump 23 points from .277 to .300 and has 21 multi-hit games this season. The issue with Bradford is a severe quad injury that forced him out of last night's victory against South Carolina. The injury is similar to what first baseman Wes Rea went through in the first month of the season.  




RF - Hunter Renfroe, Jr., RH - .355, 15 home runs, 52 RBI, .665 slugging %. A preseason All-America selection who won the C Spire Ferris Trophy Monday. Renfroe is also a semi-finalist for both USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award and the NCBWA's Dick Howser Trophy, given to the nation's top collegiate player. This month Renfroe was ranked No. 13 in Baseball America's Top 100 list of draft eligible players. 




DH - Trey Porter, Sr., RH - .253, 8 RBIs, 3 stolen bases. With right-handed scheduled to start the game for Texas A&M, Porter may get his first start in over two weeks as the left-handed pull option in the middle of the Bulldogs order.  






TEXAS A&M STARTING PITCHER: Rafael Pineda - RHP - Jr. - (5-4, 3.09 ERA): Pineda is making his 28th career start with the first 20 starts, and 24 overall, coming at the tail end of series. After back-to-back starts, against No. 1 North Carolina and No. 8 Cal State Fullerton, in which he didn't record an out, Pineda was removed from the weekend rotation, but returned for the Auburn series. He worked his way back into the weekend rotation after two midweek starts in which he did not allow an earned run in 11.1 innings of work. The Bulldogs teed off on him for six runs on eight hits in the second game of the season series where MSU won 9-3 at College Station, Texas.  




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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