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Pre-game at TD Ameritrade Park: Welcome to Day 1 of the College World Series in Omaha



Matt Stevens


OMAHA, Neb. - Welcome to opening day of competition at the College World Series. For the first time in six years, Mississippi State University will be making an appearance in Omaha, Neb. 


The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog is your stop for extensive coverage of MSU's appearance at the 2013 CWS. The Bulldogs (48-18) will open up the tournament today (2 p.m., ESPN2) against the No. 3 Oregon State University. A MSU win today would represent the program's first win in the CWS in 15 years as they play the 2013 Pacific 12 Conference regular season championship.  




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




WHAT HAPPENED AT SUPER REGIONAL: For the ninth time in school history and first time under head coach John Cohen, Mississippi State University will be going to the College World Series.  


Following a 6-5 victory Monday over University of Virginia at Davenport Field in game two of the 2013 NCAA Charlottesville Super Regional, the Bulldogs baseball program punched its first ticket for a appearance in Omaha, Neb., since 2007. MSU (48-18) survived through two weather delays Sunday and a restarting of game two in the 2013 NCAA Charlottesville Super Regional 18 hours later Monday. A 22-minute weather delay occurred in the second inning before the contest was resumed before a second delay forced a Monday finish. MSU hasn't won a game in Omaha, Neb., since Pat McMahon led a Bulldogs team to a 14-13 victory over the University of Florida in 1998. 




MISSISSIPPI STATE STARTING PITCHER: Kendall Graveman (7-5, 3.14), Sr., RHP - Graveman has been arguably MSU's most consistent pitcher throughout the 2013 season, then battled his way through 5 1/3 innings in a 118-pitch outing for the victory. Without being able to locate and command his fastball correctly, Graveman went to his rarely used slider and curveball for results against the best offensive club in the Atlantic Coast Conference. 


"When I got two strikes on them, it was really hard to put them away," Graveman said. "If you know me, going to my secondary stuff isn't what I'm about. Today just happened to be the one time I was locating it well." 


Graveman allowed just four earned runs over nine hits and walked two batters but didn't allow Saturday to be another throw away outing for a MSU starting pitcher. 


Graveman has tossed 299 2/3 innings in his four-year career with MSU, which ranks eighth all-time in school history behind notable MLB pitchers such as Jeff Brantley and Paul Maholm. Saturday represented Graveman's second postseason victory after he earned the win in the NCAA Starkville Regional opener against the University of Central Arkansas on May 31. 






PROJECTED STARTERS (2013 statistics): 




C - Nick Ammirati, Sr., RH - .257, 23 RBI; Has thrown out 11 of 26 base runners while taking over the position from Mitch Slauter after his hand injury. Ammirati has seen his batting average dip 23 points since the Southeastern Conference tournament. MSU coach John Cohen expresses constantly he is MSU's best defensive catcher in terms of blocking and throwing.  




1B - Wes Rea, RS-Soph., RH - .283, 6 home runs, 37 RBI, .992 fielding percentage; Second on the team in home runs and third in slugging percentage (.458). Currently hitting .325 in the postseason with a .426 on-base percentage. 




2B - Brett Pirtle, Jr., SH - .306, 2 home runs, 33 RBI; One of the more unique cleanup hitters in the country at 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds. Pirtle has gotten on base in 39 consecutive games and has scored 10 runs in the postseason.  




SS - Adam Frazier, Jr., LH - .359, 19 doubles, 7 stolen bases. A preseason All-America team honoree that was drafted in the 6th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2013 MLB Draft next month. Frazier is second on the team in average and would've been the Charlottesville Super Regional most valuable player after going 8 for 11 including a 6-hit day in game one. Frazier is one short of tying the school record for hits in a single season with 102.  




DH/3B - Alex Detx, Jr.., LH - .323, 31 RBI, .457 on-base % - Has 19 multi-hit games and his currently hitting .378 in the postseason with a .489 on-base percentage. 




RF - Demarcus Henderson, Jr., RH - .277, 22 runs scored, 21 RBIs. Really has heated up in the final two months of the season. Henderson is hitting .289 in the postseason with 6 RBIs.  




LF - Hunter Renfroe, Jr., RH - .360, 15 home runs, 61 RBI, .644 slugging %. A preseason All-America selection who won the C Spire Ferris Trophy and was a first-team All Southeastern Conference selection. Renfroe was 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 before being selected No. 13 overall by the San Diego Padres. 




CF - C.T. Bradford, Jr., LH - .287, 1 home runs, 25 RBI, .361 on-base percentage. Since suffering a severe quad/hip injury in the Southeastern Conference tournament, Bradford's bat has gone cold as he's hitting just 4 for 30 (.133) in the postseason. However, his ability defensively in the large gapped outfield of TD Ameritrade Park is still valuable.  




3B/UTIL - Sam Frost, Sr., LH - .295, 9 RBIs, 7 stolen bases - The Hoover, Ala., native is hitting a career best .295 in limited duty this season, 23 starts and 47 games played. He'll be the possibly ta dynamic left-handed bat in the MSU lineup today against a Oregon State bullpen or a defensive substitution late in the game if MSU has a lead.  






OREGON STATE STARTING PITCHER: Andrew Moore (14-1, 1.36), Fr., RHP - Moore, the 2013 Pacific 12 Conference freshman of the year, has won nine straight and his 14 wins are tied for most in the nation. Moore was selected to the NCBA Freshman All-American team and was a semifinalist for the National Pitcher of the Year award. His last pitching victory was a eight-inning start against Kansas State in the Corvallis Super Regional where he allowed just six hits and three earned runs. Moore has had 10 consecutive quality starts against schools in the third-best conference in the country according to RPI.  




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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