STARKVILLE, Miss. - Sophomore relief ace Jonathan Holder climbed into Mississippi State's career-top 10 list for saves Saturday night, successfully closing out a closely-contested 7-6 Bulldog win in the Diamond Classic presented by Polk's Meat Products. The win gave State a sweep of its two tournament games Saturday at Dudy Noble Field. Fifth-ranked MSU bested Samford 8-2 Saturday afternoon.
Holder (1-0, 0.00, 3 saves) notched his third save of the season and the 12th of his brief MSU career, moving him into a tie for 10th place with former MSU relief men Mike Martin (1986-88) and Jon Harden (1989-92).
It took some late-game heroics Saturday night for the Bulldogs to remain unbeaten on the campaign.
State trailed for only the second time this year when the Boilermakers (3-4) struck for four runs in the fifth and added a single tally in the fifth for a 5-1 lead. The Bulldogs chipped away, answering with a two-spot in the fifth and regaining the lead with a three-run burst in the sixth. Hunter Renfroe followed up two early-game singles with a key two-run triple. A batter earlier outfielder/pitcher C.T. Bradford singled in Sam Frost with the tying run.
"Our bullpen continues to do an incredible job for us," said head coach John Cohen. "We did some things tonight (four errors) that we have not done this year. But we battled back and got some keys hits after falling behind early. This game was kind of a character-builder for us."
Senior Kendall Graveman led a seven-man MSU pitching crew against the Boilermakers. The Bulldog co-captain gave up six hits and was charged with four runs (two earned) in his three-inning, no-decision start. Preston Brown, Chad Girodo, Myles Gentry, Bradford and Ben Bracewell followed Graveman to the hill before Holder entered the game in the ninth to protect a two-run lead. Holder worked around a lead-off single, a two-out infield single and a throwing error before retiring Kyle Wood on an infield groundout. Earlier in the game Wood launched a solo home run that put Purdue ahead 5-2. The two hits were the first allowed by Holder this season. He had fanned 11 consecutive batters prior to the game.
Girodo (1-0) retired all four batters he faced in the sixth and seventh to pick up the win. For the second straight game against Purdue Bradford moved from center field to the mound. This time the lefty retired the two batters he faced with strikeouts.
PU starter Robert Ramer gave up five runs on nine hits over five innings. Brett Andrzejewski (0-1) took the loss after giving up a pair of runs in the Bulldog sixth.
Daryl Norris joined Renfroe in the multi-hit/multi-RBI category, posting a 2-for-4, 2 RBI game.
Catcher Josh Estill collected three of Purdue's 10 hits.
FRAZIER STARS IN WIN OVER SAMFORD
Junior shortstop Adam Frazier collected a game-high three hits as No. 5 Mississippi State bested Samford 8-2 in the first of two MSU Saturday games in the inaugural Diamond Classic presented by Polk's Meat Products. The win extended State's season-opening win streak to seven games, MSU's best since 2006.
Frazier, on the initial watch list for the 2013 Golden Spikes Award, tripled and scored a run during MSU's three-run first inning and added his team-leading his total to 13 with a pair of singles.
All nine starters in the Bulldog batting order hit safely. Hunter Renfroe, also on the Golden Spikes Award watch list, drove in two runs in the game and extended his season-opening hitting streak to all seven games with a solo blast in the fourth inning. The roundtripper, Renfroe's second in as many days, gave the Bulldogs a 7-1 advantage.
Pitchers Evan Mitchell and Ross Mitchell combined to limit Samford to two runs on four hits. SU parlayed a hit batsman, two wild pitches and an infield groundout to break up the shutout in the third inning. Austin Allison and Sam Few singled in the ninth to plate the other Samford run.
Evan Mitchell started for State, allowing a run in three innings of no-hit pitching. Sophomore Ross Mitchell (2-0) picked up his second win his third relief stint of the year. He worked a solid six innings in relief, keeping Samford off the scoreboard until the ninth.
SU starter C.K. Irby (1-1) took the loss. He was charged with six runs on seven hits during his two-inning stay in the game.
State and Samford are set to meet again Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in the Diamond Classic finale at Dudy Noble Field.