June 2, 2012
CBI Live: #1
Florida State 8, #3 Samford 1
Around the Regionals
Scores & Schedules
Bullpen, bats lift Bulldogs
By Andrew Krause
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —
The two-seed wasn’t quite ready to go home yet.
Second-seeded Mississippi State used a five-run
fifth inning to pull away from fourth-seeded UAB 8-1 in an
elimination game Saturday at Dick Howser Stadium.
UAB’s Ryan Nance and Mississippi State’s Kendall
Gravemen breezed through the first three innings, and it
appeared as if the game was destined to be another low-scoring
affair for two clubs that combined to score one run in their
respective games against Samford and Florida State on Friday.
Gravemen (3.1 IP, H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) ran into a
little bump in the road in the fourth inning, and MSU head coach
Josh Cohen elected to go the bullpen early, bringing in lefty
Ross Mitchell with one out in the fourth after Gravemen had
walked and hit back to back hitters. Mitchell got out of the
jam, inducing an inning-ending ground ball double play.
“There was nothing wrong with Kendall but we just
wanted to get left-on-left,” Cohen said. “Kendall wasn’t happy
about that, but again the strength of our club is our bullpen
and I thought that they were the story of the ball game.”
Nance, starting only his third game of the
season, did not allow a hit until the fourth and set a
career-high with seven strikeouts.
“Nance was just outstanding like he was in the
Conference USA Championship Game against Memphis,” Cohen said.
“He threw strikes and he got to both sides [of the plate] with
his fastball and breaking ball.”
“I thought Ryan Nance was super once again,” said
UAB head coach Brian Shoop. “He kept us in the game and gave us
a great chance.”
However, in the fifth, the Bulldogs (40-23)
finally broke through and scored for the first time since the
fourth inning of the SEC Championship Game (17.2 innings). Nance
quickly retired the first two hitters, but Matthew Britton and
Mitch Slauter both walked. Slauter’s at-bat was particularly
impressive, as the catcher continually fouled off pitches,
forcing Nance to throw eleven pitches. The next hitter, second
baseman Sam Frost, drove a 1-1 pitch into right center field for
a two-run double.
“He was really trying to bust me in,” said Frost
(1 for 4, 3 RBI). “So I got up there looking for something in,
but he left it over the middle and the way we’ve been through
the season is once we get one run, we really start rolling.”
Nance (4-4, 4.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K) walked
the next two hitters and was relieved after a career-high 95
pitches. Chase Mallard came in with the bases loaded and two
outs in the fifth and induced Trey Porter into a flyout, keeping
the Blazers (32-30) within striking distance.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Blazers answered
with one run of their own. Keith DePew walked and Tanner Bryant
singled to start off the inning. After Ross Mitchell balked,
Tyler Mims drove in DePew with a groundout to shortstop. Caleb
Reed came in to record the final two outs of the inning and keep
the Bulldog lead intact.
However, in the top of the sixth, the Bulldogs
padded their lead and put the game out of reach with a five-run
outburst. Hunter Renfroe led off with a double, Luis Pollorena
reached via a bunt single down the third base line, and Wes Rea
drove both in with a RBI double down the left field line. The
inning continued as Britton reached on a mishandled bunt and
Mitch Slauter picked up a RBI with a perfectly-executed squeeze
“The wheels kind of fell off in the sixth for
us,” Shoop said. “I would tell you—and I’d have trouble
convincing you—but I’d tell you that we are normally a pretty
good short game team. We [usually] defend the bunt well. We
A two-out error by shortstop Tanner Bryant led to
another run, and a RBI single by Trey Porter later in the frame
capped the scoring for MSU.
Frost and Britton (2 for 3, 3 R), who came into
the contest hitting .218 and .154 respectively, helped the
Bulldogs add another run in the top of the seventh when Frost
drove in Britton, who had doubled, with a sacrifice fly.
“They just keep battling through it,” Cohen said
of his infielders’ rough year offensively. “These guys give
tremendous effort. They come to work every day. You’d think
they’re both hitting .400…that’s the way they act and that’s
what you want.”
Reed (4.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K) shut down the
Blazers, holding them scoreless over the final four innings to
pick up his ninth save.
UAB has been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament,
but Coach Shoop refused to dwell on the loss.” I don’t want
those two losses to be the focal point or take away from an
incredible accomplishment by this group of young men to win the
Conference USA Championship—the first in the history of the
program. It’s not like we have a history and tradition like
Florida State and Mississippi State have. It has to start
somewhere and I’m always going to remember this season.”
With the victory, MSU will play the loser of the
Florida State-Samford game in an elimination game Sunday at 12