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Bullpen proves to be key for State once again

May 19, 2012

Ross Mitchell, who pitched in relief for MSU in game one of the series with Kentucky, also worked in Friday night's game two. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)

A team's bullpen can be the difference late in games.

Mississippi State has sure shown No. 2 Kentucky this weekend that its bullpen is ready for a deep run in the postseason.

The Bulldogs (33-21, 15-14) beat the Wildcats (41-14, 18-11) for the second straight day Friday 4-3 to ensure a series victory.

Junior starting pitcher Kendall Graveman lasted 3.2 innings after giving up two runs.

"It's an easy decision when you know he has those teammates in the bullpen who can come in and do what they did for us," MSU head coach John Cohen said.

Redshirt junior Nick Routt was the first one out of the pen pitching 1/3 inning, giving up two hits and one run.

That is the only run the bullpen has allowed this weekend.

Maybe the biggest performance was that of junior Luis Pollorena.
He pitched two big innings giving up no hits or runs.

UK leadoff hitter Austin Cousino tried to get in Pollorena's head and started "chirping" at him.

Cousino reached first on a controversial hit by pitch.

"We put it behind us," Pollorena said.

Pollorena settled down and struck out the next batter Brian Adams.

"You can't control what (the umpire) is going to do so I trusted Mitch (Slauter)," Pollorena said. "He did a great job trying to frame balls left and right."

Maybe the most impressive stat of the night was the Bulldog bullpen managed to hold a one run lead and allow no hits against one of the better offenses in the country for the last four innings.

"They are aggressive and they are a great lineup," Pollorena said. "They are No. 5 for a reason. We are the No. 4 pitching staff in the country so you have to give credit where credit is due."

Senior preseason All-American Caleb Reed followed Pollorena. He went one inning and it was much of the same as the rest of the bullpen.

"I think (Kentucky's) lineup one through nine might be the best in the Southeastern Conference," Cohen said.

Friday night's game ended similar to how Thursday night's game did. Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder pitched the last two innings with Holder recording his second save in a row and his sixth for the season.

"It was intense but that is the kind of ballgames you love," Holder said. "it is just a fun atmosphere."

Today's game's starting pitcher will more than likely be a game time decision, but Cohen might use a lot of guys in his bullpen and it may not be a bad option judging by how the series has gone to this point.

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