STARKVILLE, Miss. – While we remain two weeks away from Super Bulldog Weekend, the Mississippi State baseball team has already put together a super weekend of its own.
The 17th-ranked Bulldogs captured their first weekend series in Southeastern Conference play this season. MSU accomplished that feat as Kendall Graveman pitched a five-hit shutout to put away Florida 2-0 Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
“Right now, Kendall is on a mission,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “When the game is on the line and it matters most, he wants to be out there with the ball in his hand. You have to love that about his personality.
“Good leaders don’t talk about it, they go out there and do it. Boy, does he do it.”
Graveman (4-2) threw his fifth career complete game and second in as many Saturdays. The senior right-hander struck out two, walked two and faced four batters past the minimum, while throwing 107 pitches. This gem came exactly one week after a 4-1 complete-game victory at Arkansas.
“It’s not all me but the guys behind me are doing an excellent job,” Graveman said. “We got some runs early today and that allowed me to settle in and gave me some confidence also. I’ve had the lead in four of my last five outings, so (the offense) is doing its job.”
MSU improved to 26-8 overall and 5-6 in league play, while Florida fell to 14-18 and 4-7. The Bulldogs won the series opener 7-3 Friday night. The sequel provided much less offensive excitement.
The Bulldogs scored both runs in the first inning, thanks in part to the wildness of Florida starting pitcher Danny Young (1-3).
Adam Frazier began the first inning with a line drive double. After a hit by Alex Detz, Hunter Renfroe reached as a hit batsman to load the bases. After a strikeout, a bases-loaded walk to Wes Rea forced in Frazier, while a groundout hit by C.T. Bradford scored Detz.
“You never know when two runs will be enough,” Cohen said. “Once again, we had some good at-bats and we hit some balls hard with nothing to show for it.”
The Bulldogs turned three double plays and now lead the nation with 42 twin-killings.
“We believe in that defense behind me so why not have faith in them,” Graveman said. “We’re going to fill up the zone. We’ve come to the conclusion that as long as we don’t give people anything, we’ll be a solid baseball club.”
Graveman recorded 19 ground ball outs. MSU has now played errorless ball in seven straight conference games.
“The kids get excited playing behind Kendall,” Cohen said. “They know they will have chances to make plays.”
The Bulldogs finished with seven hits, including multi-hit games by Frazier, Detz and Brett Pirtle.
Justin Shafer had two of Florida’s five hits.
The series finale is at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.