RALEIGH, N.C. – Walks and errors proved to be costly for the Rebels in the NCAA Tournament opener on Friday as Ole Miss (37-23) fell to William & Mary (38-22) by a score of 4-2.
With the loss, the Rebels fall into the loser’s bracket and will face the loser of tonight’s game between NC State and Binghamton in an elimination game at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday.
Mike Mayers (5-6) took the loss for the Rebels as William & Mary scored four unearned runs in the fifth inning, capitalizing on a pair of fielding errors and four walks to score the only runs of the game for the Tribe.
It was all the third-seeded team in the regional would need to pick up the win.
Jason Inghram (9-6) picked up the win as he worked 8.0 innings and allowed two runs on eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Matt Wainman picked up his 14th save of the season, closing out the ninth and keeping the Rebels off the board.
“It’s disappointing, the way we played today,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “It was a tough day for Mike (Mayers) and an uncharacteristic day on the mound for him. William & Mary played hard and clean baseball. They played better than us in all three phases of the game today. We had that one inning that we couldn’t get out of and that was pretty much the ballgame. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an NCAA Tournament game where a team got four runs without getting a hit.”
After three quick innings to start the game, Ole Miss got a chance in the fourth inning, putting men at the corners with one out. A squeeze attempt caught Turner in a rundown between third and home, allowing Preston Overbey and Auston Bousfield to move to second and third on the play. Ole Miss couldn’t get them home, however, as a foul fly ended the inning with two men in scoring position for the Rebels.
The Tribe responded in the top of the fifth, using a fielding error and a walk with one out to put two men on base. A ground ball to first put the second out on the board, but advanced both runners into scoring position. Back-to-back walks with full counts then pushed a run home to put William and Mary on the board.
A second walk with the bases loaded put a second run home before another fielding error pushed the Tribe lead out to 4-0 and sent Ole Miss to the bullpen for right-hander Aaron Greenwood. The right-handed reliever then got the Rebels out of the inning with a strikeout, but Ole Miss trailed by the four runs.
The Rebels got another chance in the bottom of the fifth, pushing two men into scoring position for the second time on the afternoon, but again the Tribe escaped the inning without suffering any damage by getting Ole Miss to groundout to end the frame.
Ole Miss got on the board in the sixth when Andrew Mistone scored on a ground ball to short from Will Allen. Mistone singled before a one-out double from Bousfield pushed both runners into scoring position for Allen. The Rebels would get nothing more across the plate as a fly out ended the inning with Ole Miss down 4-1.
Another run came home for the Rebels in the seventh when Turner hit a sac fly to center field, scoring Mathis. Mathis reached on a single before an Austin Anderson double put two men in scoring position for Turner. Ole Miss trailed 4-2 after seven innings of play.
The Rebels would get nothing more across the plate as Inghram and Wainman held the off the board in the eighth and ninth to pick up the win.
Late Homer Lifts Austin Peay Over Florida in Bloomington
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Junior Michael Davis belted a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to turn a 3-1 deficit for second-seeded Austin Peay (46-13) into an eventual 4-3 victory over third-seeded Florida (29-29) in the opening game of the NCAA Bloomington Regional on Friday afternoon at Bart Kaufman Field.
With its 16th-straight triumph, the longest winning streak in the nation, the Govs advance to tomorrow’s winner’s bracket contest against either top-seeded Indiana (43-14) or fourth-seeded Valparaiso (31-26) at 6 p.m. Meanwhile, the Gators will play either the Hoosiers or Crusaders in an elimination game at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.
Florida sophomore Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) had erased a 1-0 lead for Austin Peay with a three-run dinger in the sixth inning that had moved the Orange and Blue in front. After sophomore right-hander Ryan Harris (Jupiter, Fla.) (5-4) replaced junior southpaw Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) (0.2 IP) prior to the home part of the eighth, junior Craig Massoni (2-for-4) blooped a leadoff single into right field and senior Reed Harper bounced a single off of Harris’ leg for two runners aboard. A fielder’s choice by senior Cody Hudson erased Harper at second base and moved Massoni to third base before Hudson swiped second to give the Govs a pair of runners in scoring position. Davis then stepped to the plate and delivered his fifth homer of the year over the wall in left field to provide APSU with a 4-3 advantage.
Senior Tyler Rogers, the Division I leader in saves, took the mound for the ninth after a pair of scoreless frames by junior Kacy Kemmer (6-0) and plunked Shafer to start the Gators’ final at bat. The righty had senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) ground into a 4-6-3 double play and had sophomore Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) ground out to secure his 22nd save. Junior righty Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.) was not involved in the decision after permitting one run on four hits in 6.1 innings.
The Govs put their first two runners of the game aboard against but were kept at bay by Crawford. After redshirt sophomore Dylan Riner drew a leadoff walk, junior Jordan Hankins (2-for-4) punched a single into left field. Crawford worked out of the jam by having Massoni ground into a 5-3 double play and then had Harper ground out to Tobias.
Austin Peay opened the scoring in the fourth inning on an RBI grounder by Hudson that brought across Hankins, who had started the frame with a double into the gap in right center field. A ground ball by Massoni advanced Hankins to third base and Harper earned a free pass for runners on the corners with one down. Hudson broke the ice with a grounder to senior shortstop Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) that scored Hankins. Although Harper swiped third, Crawford struck out Davis to hold the Gators’ deficit at one run.
Tobias began the fifth with a base-hit through the left side of the infield off of junior starter Zach Hall and was sacrificed into scoring position by freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) (2-for-2). Hall responded by having freshman Brady Roberson (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and Dent each fly out.
In the bottom of the frame, junior P.J. Torres (2-for-4) reached on a one-out throwing error by Dent and was sacrificed to second base on a bunt by sophomore Brett Carlson. Riner was plunked for two Govs aboard and Crawford responded with an inning-ending strikeout of Hankins to hold the score at 1-0.
Consecutive one-out walks to sophomores Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) in the sixth inning prompted a pitching change, as redshirt junior Lee Ridenhour took over for Hall. Shafer greeted the reliever with a towering three-run homer to left field to give the Gators their first lead of the afternoon. It was his fifth big fly of the campaign to tie Gushue and Turgeon for the team lead and was his first round-tripper since April 26 against Tennessee. Over 5.1 innings, Hall gave up three hits and was charged with two runs, with three strikeouts and three walks.
In the seventh, Torres singled to right field with one down and took second base on a fielding error by Dent that enabled Carlson to reach on a fielder’s choice. Gibson was summoned to the bullpen for Crawford (6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 5 K, 4 BB) and stunted the potential rally with a strikeout of Riner before having Hankins fly out to right center field.
Austin Peay held an 8-5 edge in hits and did not commit any errors, while the Gators had a couple of fielding miscues.
Texas A&M Falls to UCSB in Opener Against
CORVALLIS, Oregon – Texas A&M mounted a ninth-inning rally, but it fell short as the Aggies dropped a 6-4 decision to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in Corvallis Regional action of the NCAA Division I Baseball Championships at Goss Stadium on Friday afternoon.
Texas A&M (32-28) had the tying run on second base with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but were unable to get the runs across.
Trailing 6-2 in the Aggies’ last at-bats, Troy Stein led off the ninth by threading a single through the left side of the infield. Logan Taylor followed with a single of his own to put two runners on, chasing relief pitcher Greg Mahle from the game. With closer Dylan Hecht on the mound, a passed ball put both runners in scoring position. Brandon Wood struck out looking for the first out of the inning, but Krey Bratsen and Jace Statum each delivered singles to send both runners home, cutting the lead to 6-4.
An error by centerfielder Cameron Newell allowed Statum to move to second on his hit, putting the tying run in scoring position. Hecht was able to induce a foul pop up to the third baseman by Mikey Reynolds for the second out of the inning and Blake Allemand struck out looking to end the frame.
UCSB (35-23) drew first blood in the top of the second inning. Tyler Kuresa drew a four-pitch walk to start the frame, moved to second on a one-out single to centerfield by Cameron Newell and scored when Luke Swenson dropped a single down the leftfield line for a 1-0 advantage.
The Gauchos tacked on two more runs in the top of the third. Joey Epperson laced a leadoff single through the right side of the infield and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Trinkwon. Woody Woodward bounced a single through the right side of the infield to plate Epperson for the 2-0 lead. The margin was pushed to three runs when Kuresa hit a ball to the left centerfield gap and was mishandled by centerfielder Bratsen, allowing Woodward to score.
Texas A&M shaved a run off the lead in the bottom of the third inning. Bratsen reached base to start the inning after Gaucho third baseman Marc Venning tripped before getting off a throw to first for an error. Statum pushed Bratsen to second with a sacrifice bunt. Reynolds pasted a 1-2 offering down the leftfield line, scoring Bratsen and cutting the UCSB edge to 3-1.
Santa Barbara inflated the lead to 5-1 in the fourth inning. Swenson was issued a walk to start the inning and moved to second on a balk. With one out, Jackson Morrow singled through the left side of the infield to put runners on the corners. Epperson pushed the lead to three runs with a single up the middle to knock in Swenson. A sacrifice fly by Trinkwon sent Morrow home for the second run of the fame.
The Maroon and White trimmed the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Allemand reached on an infield single and moved to second on a balk. Cole Lankford drove in Allemand with a single to right field. The rally was kept alive when Hunter Melton hit a ball deep into the hole at short for an infield single. Troy Stein came to the plate as the tying run, but struck out swinging for the final out of the inning.
UCSB was granted a run in the eighth inning. With two outs, Swenson reached on a two-out single. The inning appeared to be over when Aggie reliever Matt Kent appeared to catch Swenson wandering off first. With Swenson rolling into the tag of a diving Mikey Reynolds at second base, Swenson was awarded the stolen base. Venning took advantage of the extra out, driving a triple to the gap in right centerfield for the insurance run and the 6-4 lead.
The Aggies had key scoring opportunities in the sixth and eighth innings, but left two runners on in each frame. In the sixth, Stein struck out swinging to end the inning. In the eighth, Melton drove a deep fly ball to centerfield for the final out.
Daniel Mengden (8-4) was saddled with the loss for the Aggies. He allowed five runs, four earned, on six hits and three walks while striking out three over 3.1 innings. It was the shortest career start for the sophomore who also committed a balk and tossed two wild pitches.
Austin Pettibone (10-3) earned the win for the Gauchos. He yielded two runs, one earned, on seven hits while striking out six over 7.2 innings. Hecht picked up his ninth save of the season, scattering two hits and striking out two over 1.0 innings.
Lankford paced the Aggies at the plate, going 3-for-4 with one double and one RBI. Melton went 2-for-4.
Swenson led the Gaucho attack going 2-for-3 with two runs, one stolen base and one RBI. Epperson went 2-for-5 with one run and one RBI.
The Aggies return to action on Saturday when they face the loser of Friday evening’s Oregon State/UTSA game in an elimination contest at 2 pm Central at Goss Stadium.
LSU Opens Regional with Triumph in Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE -- Mason Katz was 2-for-2 with three runs and four RBI, as the top-seeded LSU baseball team went against the script but advanced past Jackson State on Friday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium, 11-7.
LSU was only able to get 2 1/3 innings of work out of starter Ryan Eades who left with the game tied at 2-2. Eades pitched around a 25-minute rain delay in the top of the first inning and gave up four hits and two walks.
"Maybe one of the more painful wins that we’ve had in our time," LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. "We’re glad to win the game of course, but the biggest concern is Alex Bregman and Raph Rhymes with the collision. We’ll just pray and hope that they’re going to be okay and be able to get back to playing. It was a rough game. Nothing went by script today.
"Raph Rhymes could have continued to play in the game but I just chose to take him out of the game....Alex' situation is a little bit more concerning to us, quite frankly. He’s at the hospital right now and getting some tests done on the bones in his face."
Kurt McCune (4-1) tossed the next 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing four hits with five strikeouts to right the ship. Meanwhile, the LSU offense scored eight runs between the third and sixth innings to bust the game open. Katz' two-run homer to center capped a four-run fourth inning.
Already without the services of outfielder Mark Laird for the game and starting pitcher Cody Glenn for the weekend, the Tigers suffered another blow when leftfielder Raph Rhymes collided with shortstop Alex Bregman on a fly ball that ended the top of the fourth. Rhymes suffered a cut on his lip and received stitches while Bregman was left the facility to be evaluated.
Jackson State scored five runs in the final two frames to cut the deficit to four runs, however, Joey Bourgeois entered to get the final three outs.
Jackson State starter Alexander Juday (7-5) allowed seven runs on six hits with two walks in the loss. Rightfielder Fred Hampton paced the Tigers with a 3-for-4 performance with a two-run home. Leadoff hitter Aneki Knowles was 4-for-5 with a run and an RBI.
On Saturday at 7 p.m., LSU will face the winner of Friday's nightcap between No. 2-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette and No. 3-seeded Sam Houston State.
Jackson State will face the loser of tonight's game at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Eighth Inning Surge Pushes South Carolina Past Saint Louis
COLUMBIA, S.C. – A four-run eighth inning propelled South Carolina (40-18) past Saint Louis (41-20) 7-3 in the second game of 2013 NCAA Columbia Regional at Carolina Stadium on Friday evening.
Senior Nolan Belcher faced the minimum until the seventh when Michael Bozarth led off the frame with a single. Belcher finished his day after 6.1 innings pitched, allowing four hits and one earned run while fanning six without issuing a walk. Senior Adam Westmoreland got the Gamecocks out of the seventh before senior Tyler Webb (3-2) finished the contest, not getting charged with a run over the last two innings to pick up the win. Webb struck out five of the seven batters he faced.
Five Gamecocks registered two hits in the matchup with junior left fielder Graham Saiko adding his second homer of the year, a double, two RBI and two runs scored. Sophomore catcher Grayson Greiner also scored two runs to pair with his 2-for-4 performance at the plate. Senior designated hitter LB Dantzler, sophomore first baseman Kyle Martin and sophomore right fielder Connor Bright recorded an RBI each as well, with the sophomores also getting two hits along with freshman second baseman Max Schrock.
Belcher got off to a solid start striking out two in the first, and the Gamecocks took an early lead with one in the bottom half of the frame. Dantzler picked up his RBI on a grounder, bringing Schrock around for the 1-0 lead.
Saiko blasted a 3-2 pitch in the second for his homer that put the Gamecocks up 2-0. Trying to add to the lead, Bright was caught at the plate as he tried to score from second on Schrock’s two-out single. A third Gamecock run came in the fourth inning as Bright’s single drove Greiner home after he reached with a leadoff single.
The Billikens scored their first run in the top of the seventh when sophomore Mike Vigliarolo delivered an RBI single to bring home Bozarth, closing the gap to 3-1. With Westmoreland on in relief for Belcher and runners on first and second, freshman Braxton Martinez hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
Aided by a wild pitch from Webb in the top of the eighth, Saint Louis was able to work two runners into scoring position. It looked as if the Gamecocks would get out of the inning when Bozarth hit a ball to third base, but an errant throw allowed both base runners to score, tying the game at 3-3.
The Gamecocks took control again in the bottom half of the eighth. Sophomore shortstop Joey Pankake reached on an error to start the inning and promptly stole second. Greiner’s single put runners on the corners for Martin, who delivered a hit through the right side to give South Carolina a 4-3 lead. A wild pitch plated Greiner, and Martin added another on Saiko’s double to make the score 6-3. The second error of the inning scored Saiko from third to increase the Gamecock cushion to 7-3.
Webb struck out senior Alex Kelly, induced a fly out from Vigliarolo and collected his fifth strike out from Martinez to end the game.
Clay Smith (8-3) gets the loss for Saint Louis, allowing eight hits and four runs over seven-plus innings of work. The righthander struck out three and walked just one. Offensively, Bozarth led the way for the Billikins as the only play with two hits, going 2-for-4 and scoring a run. Centerfielder Danny Brennan and second baseman Mike Levine also registered runs for Saint Louis.
Saint Louis will face Clemson in Game 3 of the Columbia Regional on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Gamecocks’ matchup against Liberty is slated for 8 p.m. Both games are scheduled to be broadcast on ESPNU/ESPN3 with live stats available at www.Gamecocksonline.com.
Vandy Powers Past ETSU to Open NCAA Regionals
Vanderbilt started its NCAA Tournament appearance with a bang Friday night as the Commodores defeated East Tennessee State, 9-1, to advance to the winner's bracket of the Nashville Regional at Hawkins Field.
Vanderbilt (52-9) will meet Illinois in the winner's bracket at 7 p.m. CT Saturday. ETSU (36-23) will play an elimination game against Georgia Tech at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The Commodores didn’t waste any time at the plate, as the Dores struck for five runs in the bottom of the first. Xavier Turner got the inning started with an infield single, followed by a single from Mike Yastrzemski. Another infield single from Connor Harrell loaded the bases for Conrad Gregor who immediately drove in two runs on a base hit up the middle. An RBI-single from Rhett Wiseman, a sacrifice fly from Vince Conde and another RBI-single from Spencer Navin would give VU a 5-0 lead.
After the torrid start to the game, VU would be held without a hit until the sixth inning.
“We got off to a good start," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "That first inning where we pushed across five runs was big especially in the first game of the tournament because they’re not easy to play regardless of whether you’ve been here or not. I thought Nesselt settled down a little bit and kept us off the ball, but during that time, we needed a very good pitching performance in order to contain the ball game. Five runs against that particular team that hits well is not enough, and Kevin did a good job of getting into the 8th inning. Then we separated ourselves a little bit at the end. Good start for us, obviously winning an opening game is a big deal.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Jack Lupo led off the inning by advancing to second on a throwing error by ETSU shortstop Chris Riopedre. Two batters later, Turner would drive in Lupo on a single. Stepping up to the plate with a runner on, Connor Harrell sent his 12th home run of the season over the left-center field wall to give Vandy an 8-1 lead.
Lupo would drive in the final run of the game on a sacrifice fly to give Vanderbilt its final score of 9-1.
ETSU scratched out its lone run of the game on a sacrifice fly from Clinton Freeman.
Kevin Ziomek (11-2) threw seven innings and struck out five in the start, while allowing just one run on three hits. He lowered his season ERA to 1.92 after the quality start on the hill. Steven Rice finished the final two innings in place of Ziomek. Rice gave up two hits and struck out two.
“It’s huge," said Ziomek when asked about being staked to a 5-0 lead in the first. "The way the defense is playing, it’s hard not to have confidence out there. You just have to go out there and throw strikes and know that you have guys who can make plays. Talk about Connor, Vince at shortstop, and Yaz making a heck of a catch out there in rightfield. It’s huge. You know you can go in there and don’t have to strike people out. You just go in there and pitch with a lead, and it worked out tonight.”
Jimmy Nesselt (2-3) took the loss for the Buccaneers. After giving up five runs in the first inning, Nesselt settled in and retired 16 of the next 18 Commodores. He left the game after six and two-third innings, allowing eight runs (five earned) on 10 hits. Nesselt filled in for ETSU ace Kerry Doane, who led the nation with 12 complete games heading into the game, was held out of Friday's game because of illness. Doane pitched a complete game Sunday in the finals of the Atlantic Sun Championship that advanced the Bucs to their first NCAA Regional since 1981 with a case of strep throat.
“Our worst fears came true tonight," said ETSU head coach Tony Skole. "We preached about wanting to get off to a good start this evening, but giving up that five-spot in the first inning allowed Vanderbilt to play relaxed for the rest of the game. After that first inning I thought we settled in and Jimmy (Nesselt) really got control of the ball game and was cruising through the middle innings and gave us a chance to get back in the game. We just couldn’t seem to get that big hit and against a pitching staff like that. When you get opportunities in scoring position you have to get that timely hit and we just didn’t get it tonight. It’s a difficult loss but I’m proud of the way our guys stayed in it and fought.”
As a team, Vanderbilt registered 11 hits on the night. Turner, Harrell, Gregor and Wiseman all had multi-hit games. Harrell and Gregor each went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Harrell also scored two runs. The two RBIs for Harrell brought his season total to 66 on the season. Seven of the nine hitters in the lineup recorded at least one hit on the evening.
Vanderbilt will meet Illinois in the winner's bracket at 7 p.m. CT Saturday. ETSU will play an elimination game against Georgia Tech at 2 p.m. Saturday. A limited number of single game tickets for the Commodores' game Saturday will be available online at vucommodores.com beginning on Friday night. Tickets are limited, but there will be infield and outfield seats available for purchase online and as walk-up sales at the stadium Saturday. Infield tickets are $20 and outfield tickets are $15.
Arkansas Drops NCAA Lid-Lifter to Bryant
MANHATTAN, Kan. – The 15th-ranked Arkansas baseball team dropped a 4-1 decision to Bryant on Friday night in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament at Tointon Family Stadium.
The Razorbacks drop to 37-21 on the season, while Bryant improves to 45-16-1 on the year. Arkansas will next play on Saturday at 2 p.m. in an elimination game against Wichita State. Ryne Stanek (9-2, 1.40) will start for the Razorbacks, while the Shockers will counter with RHP A.J. Ladwig (5-5, 4.65). Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPN3.
Barrett Astin recorded his third-consecutive quality start, allowing just one unearned run on seven hits and striking out seven in seven innings. Astin lowered his season ERA to 1.79.
Bryant reliever Salvatore Lisanti (2-2) earned the win out of the bullpen, striking out two over four hitless innings.
Arkansas reliever Jalen Beeks (6-2) took the loss, giving up three runs on four hits in an inning.
Brandon Moore closed the game with a scoreless ninth inning, striking out two.
Bryant starter Peter Kelich received a no decision after giving up a run on two hits and striking out six in five innings.
Dominic Ficociello, Jacob Mahan and Tyler Spoon each had a hit in the loss. Jake Wise had the only RBI of the contest for the Razorbacks.
Kevin Brown and John Mullen each had three hits to lead the Bulldogs in the win. Mullen had two RBI, while Brown drove in a run.
Arkansas got on the board first in the fifth inning. Ficociello blasted a leadoff double high off the wall in right centerfield that narrowly missed being his fourth home run of the season. Mahan followed with a bunt single that advanced Ficociello to third and put runners on the corners with nobody out. Brett McAfee was hit with the first pitch he saw to load the bases, and Wise worked a walk to drive in Ficociello and give the Razorbacks a 1-0 lead.
Bryant responded in the top of the sixth, when AJ Zarozny reached on an error and advanced to third on a single by Brown. Zarozny scored on Mullen’s single to left field but Astin was able to hold the damage at one run by recording an out on a fielder’s choice and striking out Dan Muscatello to end the Bulldogs’ half of the sixth.
Bryant scored three runs in the top of the eighth. Zarozny started the offense with a one-out single and was driven home on a single by Brown after stealing second. Mullen then hit a ball off the wall in center for an RBI triple and then scored on a single by Anderson for the final 4-1 margin.
For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Mississippi State Opens NCAAs In Grand Fashion
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State kicked off the Starkville Regional in grand fashion Friday night.
Before a Dudy Noble Field crowd of 11,102, the ninth-ranked Bulldogs beat Central Arkansas 5-3 in the final game of the opening day. Top-seeded MSU will face second-seeded South Alabama at 7 p.m. Saturday in a battle between the final two unbeatens.
For MSU, it was the first postseason win at home since winning twice to capture the 2007 Starkville Super Regional.
Friday’s attendance figure ranked 16th all-time at Dudy Noble Field and also marks MSU’s fifth largest postseason home crowd. In Friday’s opener, South Alabama knocked off Mercer 9-4. A total of 17,788 attended the two games on the MSU campus.
The total attendance Friday was the second largest nationwide of the 16 regional venues.
“We were very sloppy defensively,” MSU head coach John Cohen said.”We made four errors and that is not characteristic of us. But we battled through it. Overall, you get through it. Our kids were a little amped up.”
Drawing a boost from the boisterous crowd, the Bulldogs scored first.
Alex Detz started things with a one-out single. Hunter Renfroe reached on an error and Brett Pirtle connected for an infield hit loading the bases. Wes Rea followed with an RBI-single.
Central Arkansas (39-21) broke on top with single scores in the third and fourth innings. The Bulldogs struggled defensively, making four errors. Ironically, MSU has won all three games this season when it made four errors.
The Bulldogs battled back for a tie in the fifth inning. Pirtle tripled and scored on another RBI-single by Rea.
In the sixth inning, the Bulldogs grabbed the lead for good with three scores.
Sam Frost walked to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt, Demarcus Henderson singled. An RBI-groundout by Adam Frazier plated the go-ahead score. Insurance runs came courtesy of an RBI-single by Detz and RBI-double by Renfroe.
The Bulldogs finished with 11 hits. Detz had three hits, while Pirtle and Rea each had two hits. Pirtle has now reached safely in 34 straight games. The Bulldogs turned two double plays, matching last season’s school-record 71 doubles plays for the season.
The final double play was brilliantly turned from first baseman Rea to shortstop Frazier back to second baseman Pirtle. Postgame, Cohen postgame called that twin killing the play of the game.”
Central Arkansas finished with five hits. Michael Marietta had two singles for the Bears.
Kendall Graveman (6-5) pitched 6.1 innings to earn the win. Graveman allowed four hits and two runs (one earned), with five strikeouts and two walks. Chad Girodo threw a scoreless 1.2 innings in relief. Jonathan Holder worked around three walks to complete the ninth inning for his 17th save.
“Central Arkansas is a disciplined team,” Graveman said. “We knew that from the first time we played them. They did a job of taking pitches in the first inning. After that, I got on a roll and was able to get through the next couple of innings.”
Central Arkansas’ Caleb McClanahan (10-6) was lifted during the big sixth inning. McClanahan allowed 11 hits and five runs (all earned), with two walks and no strikeouts. Blake Clayton completed the contest on the mound for the Bears.
In Saturday’s matchup, USA is slated to start senior right-hander Matt Bell (6-1, 3.52), while MSU is slated to start senior left-hander Luis Pollorena (6-3, 4.30).