State On the Brink of CWS
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Mississippi State saved one of its best offensive afternoons of the season for the perfect time.
The ninth-ranked Bulldogs pounded out 20 hits Saturday afternoon at Davenport Field. Highlighted by a six-hit day by Adam Frazier, MSU rolled past Virginia 11-6 in the opening game of the Charlottesville Super Regional.
MSU (47-18) now stands one win away from reaching the College World Series for the first time since 2007. No. 6 national seed Virginia (50-11) will now have to win back-to-back games to take the best-of-three series and earn the right to go to Omaha.
The series resumes with a 6 p.m. CT start Sunday. ESPNU will have the national telecast. A third game, if necessary, would be at 3 p.m. CT Monday on ESPN2.
“Obviously we are really proud of our kids today,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “We played a very good Virginia club. I think it was a lot sloppier than either one of our staffs would have liked, but it was a just a long grind-it-out type of game.”
Frazier became the fifth Bulldog to record six hits in a game. He did that with a perfect 6-for-6 afternoon at the plate. Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday afternoon the Major League Baseball First-Year Draft, Frazier became the second Bulldog to collect six hits in a postseason game, joining Burke Masters who did it in a 1990 regional game against Florida State.
The sixth and final hit also gives Frazier 100 total hits for the season, which is the fourth time a Bulldog has done that. Richard Lee also had 100 hits in 1997. Brian Wiese set the school record with 103 hits in 1998.
“Six-hit games are really special,” Frazier said. “You really don’t pay that much attention to it while you are in the middle of the game. I am glad that it came in this situation. But it wasn’t just me, the whole team had a great afternoon at the plate.”
MSU roughed up the highly-touted Virginia pitching staff for its second-best offensive afternoon of the season. The Bulldogs’ 20-hit total trailed only the 21 hits collected in a season-opening win against Portland.
Hunter Renfroe added four hits and three RBIs. A first-round pick of the San Diego Padres Thursday, Renfroe had his second four-hit game of the season and his first since a 4-for-4 night against Arkansas March 29.
“I think the whole club is actually hitting very well right now, seeing the ball very good,” Renfroe said. “It starts with a rhythm at the plate and once you have rhythm at the plate it’s going to work very well for us and each individual. I think we are seeing the ball great right now, laying off bad pitches and not striking out a whole lot.”
The top three in the MSU lineup (Frazier, Alex Detz and Renfroe) were on base 15 times in the contest. Wes Rea and Demarcus Henderson also had three-hit performance. Rea had now had 13 multi-hit games, while Henderson has had five four-hit games. Brett Pirtle added a hit and has now reached basely safely in 38 straight games.
While MSU did strand 15 base runners, the Bulldogs took advantage of four errors by the Cavaliers and scored six unearned runs. The Bulldogs matched a season-high with four double plays, giving them 76 for the season.
MSU struck quickly with two runs in the first inning. Frazier single and Detz walked to start things. Renfroe singled to score one run, while an RBI-groundout by Pirtle scored another.
Virginia answered right back with three scores off MSU starting pitcher Kendall Graveman. Mike Papi hit a leadoff home run for the Cavaliers. An RBI-single by Reed Gragnani placed Virginia on top, 3-2.
The Bulldogs had another answer in the third inning. The Maroon and White scored twice to take the lead for good. Renfroe and Pirtle got things started with back-to-back hits. One run scored when C.T. Bradford bunted back to the pitcher and the bunt play was mishandled. A sacrifice-fly by Henderson made it 4-3.
Graveman (7-5) right the ship from there and continued to grind. In 5.1 innings of work, Graveman allowed nine hits and six runs (four earned), with three strikeouts and two walks. Ross Mitchell faced 13 batters in 3.2 innings of relief to earn his second save. Mitchell got inning-ending double play balls in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
The Bulldogs expanded the lead with three runs in the fourth inning. Renfroe laced a two-run triple and Pirtle added a sacrifice-fly in that at-bat.
UVA closed within 7-4 on an unearned run, only to see MSU push one more score across in the fifth inning and two more scores in the sixth inning. Frazier added to his monster night with a two-run double in the sixth inning.
Virginia starter Brandon Waddell (6-3) was lifted in the fourth inning. Waddell allowed six hits and six runs (three earned), with three strikeouts and two walks. The UVA bullpen was touched for 14 hits the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs have now 47 or more games for the sixth time in school history and first time since the 1997 College World Series-participant squad also won 47 games.