May 24, 2013 10:01:25 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
HOOVER, Ala. -- For the first time this season, Mississippi State University has been without its starting center fielder.
A severe quad injury has forced junior C.T. Bradford has missed the last two games of the Southeastern Conference tournament. The former Mr. Baseball in the state of Florida started the first 57 games this season before being held out of a 5-3 victory against the University of South Carolina.
"He is a premier defender in our league," MSU coach John Cohen said. "We need him to be on the field for us to be our identity on offense and defense."
Bradford, who is hitting .300 with five extra-base hits, suffered the injury after the final regular-season series against South Carolina. He played through the pain Tuesday night and was 0-for-6 with two sacrifice bunts in a 17-inning victory against the University of Missouri.
After defeating South Carolina on Wednesday, Cohen said Bradford's injury was "very, very similar" to the quad injury sophomore Wes Rea suffered through in the first two months of the season.
In Bradford's absence, junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe moved to center field Wednesday and Thursday. Cohen used Demarcus Henderson, Derrick Armstrong, and Jacob Robson in the other outfield positions.
"It doesn't really matter to me which corner I play, except here at Hoover Met the lights are little more funky in right field than left," Henderson said. "The fundamentals are same whatever corner you are in."
Ole Miss eliminated before Wahl gets on mound
The University of Mississippi's 7-5 loss to the University of Alabama in 10 innings Thursday sent the Rebels home without using junior ace Bobby Wahl.
Ole Miss (37-22) came to the SEC tournament with its starting rotation off schedule after a rainout washed away play two weeks ago in the home finale series against Mississippi State University and a Thursday-Friday-Saturday regular-season finale against LSU. Wahl (9-0, 1.99 ERA) started the series opener against MSU on MSU, but rain forced that game to be postponed. Mike Mayers came back the next day and pitched the final seven innings, allowing just two hits and striking out five in a 94-pitch effort. Wahl got the start in the series finale Sunday and went 5 1/3 innings. He didn't factor in the decision in MSU's 7-6 victory. Ole Miss then went back to Wahl for game three of the LSU series on May 18. Wahl went 2 2/3 innings and allowed six hits and six runs (all earned), but Ole Miss rallied for an 11-9 victory.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said Thursday the Rebels would have went with Wahl on Friday if they had defeated Alabama. Instead, the projected first-round pick in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft likely won't pitch again until Ole Miss' first game in the NCAA Regionals next week. The Rebels likely will be a No. 2 or a No. 3 seed when the bracket is announced Monday afternoon.
Madison native Turnbull leads Alabama past Ole Miss
Alabama starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull battled through control issues Thursday, but he kept his team in the game so it could rally for a 7-5 victory against Ole Miss in 10 innings. The former Madison Central High School standout threw 6 2/3 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits. He walked six and struck out four. The sophomore is second on the roster in victories, strikeouts, and innings pitched.
"That's kind of been a typical outing for Spencer in the last month or so," said Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard, whose team improved to 34-25. "The majority of time it's about command."
The Rebels built a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Preston Overbey doubled with two outs to score Anthony Mistone, who doubled to open the inning. Turnbull then threw four scoreless innings and retired the first two batters of the seventh before walking the next three hitters to set up a game-tying single by Stuart Turner.
"That's the next step he has to take is command on a majority of his stuff," Gaspard said. "If he does that, he can be a dominant guy in this league."
Stanek outduels Nola in matchup of future MLB first-round picks
The University of Arkansas' projected first-round pick outshined LSU's projected first-round pick on the mound Thursday afternoon in a 4-1 victory in a winners' bracket game.
"The stage was set for a really good game tonight, and I don't think anybody was disappointed in the pitchers' duel," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "(Ryne) Stanek was very good tonight, and he showed why he's going to make a lot of money in this game at the next level. In fact he's about ready for the big leagues right now."
Multiple media outlets project Stanek (9-2), a right-hander, will go in the first 10 selections of the 2013 MLB draft in June. He limited LSU to one run on six hits in eight innings. He walked three and struck out four.
"It doesn't really matter who it is against, but my job is to go out there and throw up zeros," Stanek said.
LSU right-hander Aaron Nola, another top prospect, was solid in his first outing since May 10. He allowed one run on six hits. He walked one and struck out eight.
At least two dozen professional scouts were seated behind home plate at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium to evaluate the most anticipated pitching matchup at the tournament.
Nola was taken out of the rotation last weekend against Ole Miss to rest his arm for the postseason. The rest may have helped, as he hit 93-95 mph on radar guns.
"My body and mind were refreshed," Nola said. "I didn't have my fastball command like I normally do, but I made some clutch pitches when I needed to."