Diamond Dogs Shocked By Samford In NCAA Opener; Face UAB Saturday

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Hunter Renfroe made this great snag in the third and also had a hit for MSU. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)
Photo Courtesy of Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - If every dog has his day, the bad news for the Mississippi State baseball team is Friday belonged to Samford.

In a first-round battle of Bulldogs at the Florida State-hosted Tallahassee Regional, Samford recorded its first-ever regional victory with a 5-0 shut out of No. 17 Mississippi State before a crowd of 3,154 at Dick Howser Stadium.

MSU (39-23) will face UAB (32-29), which fell to host Florida State 2-1 Friday night, in an 11 a.m. (CDT) elimination game Saturday. Junior right-hander Kendall Graveman (4-4, 2.92) will open on the mound for the Bulldogs, who will now need four wins in three days to win a third straight regional tournament. MSU saw a six-game regional win streak snapped with Friday’s defeat.

"I thought Samford did a great job today," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "The game reminded me a lot of a ballgame we played a couple of weeks ago against Central Arkansas. We didn't score in that game either. We didn't recognize pitches (Friday). I don't know if it was a focus issue."

Samford hit four home runs in Friday's victory. The Southern Conference-based Bulldogs held only a 1-0 lead in the eighth inning before reaching a tiring Chris Stratton for two home runs in the eighth inning. Caleb Reed also allowed one in relief.

It was the second time this season Samford homered four times in one game. It was also the first time this season that MSU pitching had allowed three or more home runs in a game.

"They did a good job of just going down and getting pitches," Stratton said. "It really
reminded me of Kentucky, just the way they could go down and get it. They had a good plan and they executed it really well."

In the second inning, Samford grabbed all the offense it needed on a nation-leading 23rd home run by right fielder Brandon Miller.

The Maroon and White failed to answer as its best scoring opportunity went awry in the home half of the inning. A one-out walk to Demarcus Henderson opened the door. A single by Mitch Slauter followed. After a strikeout, Sam Frost reached as a hit batsman to load the bases. A popup on the infield snuffed that threat.

MSU would strand only five base runners the rest of the way as Samford starting pitcher Charles Basford was on cruise control. Basford was lifted after a leadoff walk in the ninth inning. While throwing a season-high 131 pitches, Basford (10-2) allowed five hits and no runs, with four walks and four strikes. C.K. Irby completed the contest for Samford.

Stratton (11-2) was touched for a pair of home runs in the eighth inning. After a leadoff out, Saxon Butler hit his 15th home run of the year. Later in the frame, a two-out walk to Miller preceded a two-run shot by Irby - his fifth of the season. In relief, Caleb Reed was touched for Christiaan Durdaller's fifth home run of the season.

Stratton worked 7.2 innings, allowing six hits and four runs (all earned), with four walks and four strikeouts.

While being shut out in a regional or super regional game for the first time in 34 tries, MSU managed five hits. Slauter had two hits, while Adam Frazier had a single to run his hit streak to 13 games.

"Our kids are disappointed," Cohen said. "The tournament goes on. We will have another opponent (Saturday) and we will have another opportunity to compete. Our kids are looking forward to that challenge."

Irby finished with three of Samford's seven hits.



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