June 3, 2012
#1 Florida State 5, #3 Samford 2
Around the Regionals
Scores & Schedules
Samford strikes late, sinks
By Andrew Krause
Fla. — With their backs against the
wall, the Samford Bulldogs came from behind to upset Mississippi
State for the second time in the Tallahassee Regional, this time
by a score of 3-2, and proved that they can take down the big
“What a gutsy effort by a group of kids that
hasn’t been here before,” said Samford head coach Casey Dunn.
“To come into this environment, in regional play, for them to
hold their composure…It’s really impressive for a group of guys
in their first-ever experience.”
Nonetheless, it was the SEC Tournament champions
that struck first, as MSU (40-24) utilized its typical
small-ball style to manufacture a first-inning run. Adam Frazier
flicked Kyle Putkonen’s first pitch into left field for a
single, stole second base, advanced to third base on a sacrifice
bunt, and scored on a groundout to the shortstop.
MSU’s Jacob Lindgren, used primarily as a
reliever for much of the year and making only his second start
of the season, was able to work out of trouble and hold the
vaunted offense of Samford (41-22) scoreless early on.
“We didn’t get hits when we had to,” Dunn said of
his team’s failure to cash in early. “You get 12 hits in a game
you need to score six or seven runs. It’s been two nights in a
row where we really haven’t walked. I thought their pitchers
threw strikes. Again, when you limit the freebies, it’s tough to
In the top of the fourth, Luis Pollorena led off
with a single and advanced to third when Wes Rea followed with a
base hit to right field. Matthew Britton’s RBI single through
the right side gave the MSU three straight hits and a 2-0 lead.
However, Putkonen was able to bear down and record three
straight outs to get out of the jam without further damage.
In the bottom half of the fourth, Samford
responded for a run of its own, but it could have been more.
After back-to-back singles by Brandon Miller
(pictured above) and C.K. Irby, Christiaan Durdaller popped up a
bunt attempt back to Lindgren for the first out of the inning.
After a softly-hit groundball allowed Miller (2 for 3) and Irby
(2 for 4) to advance to third and second respectively, Tommy
Corbin hit a hard line drive up the middle that brought in
Miller. However, MSU center fielder Hunter Renfroe, picked up
his 10th outfield assist of the season, gunning down Irby at the
plate and securing a 2-1 lead for MSU.
“Tommy Corbin came in with a big hit,” Miller
said. “He’d been struggling a bit and then he came in with a
huge hit. That was awesome for him. We were all excited for him
and wanted to score more runs.”
After allowing a leadoff single to Zeth Stone in
the fifth, Lindgren (4 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) was replaced by
left-handed reliever Ross Mitchell, who recorded three straight
MSU was fortunate to escape again in the sixth,
as Mitchell (1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, K) ran into some trouble.
Right-hander Ben Bracewell was called upon to face the
right-handed hitting Corbin with a 1-2 count and runners on
first and second. Corbin fouled off a handful of pitches to work
a walk and load the bases, but Bracewell was able to get Zeth
Stone to pop out to shortstop Adam Frazier for the third out.
However, MSU’s offense also left its fair share
of runners on base. In the top of the seventh, still leading
2-1, MSU could not capitalize after its leadoff man, Adam
Frazier, was hit by a pitch. After a sacrifice bunt, Joseph
Burns, who gave up a grand slam to FSU’s James Ramsey Saturday
nigtht, came in for Putkonen (6.1 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) and
got two quick outs to keep Samford within striking distance.
“I’m glad I got another chance,” Burns said. “It
was my time to do what I do. I got a rhythm and just pitched.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Samford’s offense
finally came through against the unlikeliest of foes as Phillip
Ervin delivered a two-out single off of MSU relief ace Jonathan
Holder, who had not allowed a hit in his last eight appearances
(spanning back to May 5). The next batter, Miller, came through
with a RBI double to tie the game, hitting Holder (2-1, 1 IP, 3
H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) for his first earned run allowed all
season in the process.
“That was definitely a mistake,” Holder said of
his 1-1 pitch to Miller. “Give him credit-he just jumped all
over it; put the barrel where he wanted it. He did what good
hitters will do and took advantage of it.”
It appeared that MSU would escape the inning with
the game tied, but first baseman Wes Rea could not handle an
errant throw from third baseman Sam Frost so Miller came around
to score and give Samford a 3-2 lead.
“I just kind of got sped up a little bit,” Frost
said. “We work on it every day at practice, slowing the game
down. The ball was kind of chopped up; I thought I had to rush
but I had time.”
Burns (4-1, 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K) worked a
scoreless eighth inning before yielding to closer C.K. Irby.
After recording one out, Irby walked Frost and surrendered a
double to Frazier, putting runners at second and third.
Nonetheless, Irby was able to bear down and get the last two
outs, striking out Demarcus Henderson and getting Brent Brownlee
to fly out to right field, to pick up his 10th save of the
With the loss, Mississippi State has been
eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.
“We had opportunities offensively and we just
didn’t do it; we didn’t take advantage of them,” MSU head coach
John Cohen said. “We are already there pitching, for the most
part we are already there or really close defensively, we are
not a good offensive club yet. When that happens I think we have
a chance to compete among the elite programs in this country.”
Samford advances to play Florida State and must
beat them twice in order to win the Tallahassee Regional.
“Regardless of what happens the next game…the
next two games, these guys are truly ready,” Dunn said of his
squad’s impressive performance thus far. “They’ve proven they
are worthy of this experience.”
(photo courtesy of Samford Media