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Bulldogs beat Blazers: MSU stays alive with 8-1 victory

June 3, 2012

Mississippi State's Mitch Slauter (29) and Matthew Britton (15) are greeted by teammates after scoring against UAB in the fifth inning Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla. (Photo by Steve Cannon, AP)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On a day the Mississippi State baseball team needed to get a win, it did.

The No. 2 seed Bulldogs beat No. 4 seed UAB 8-1 Saturday afternoon in an elimination game in the Tallahassee Regional at Dick Howser Stadium, Mike Martin Field.

MSU plays Samford today at 11 a.m. The Bulldogs from Birmingham suffered an 8-1 loss to Florida State Saturday night.

"Obviously, we needed to get something going offensively (Saturday) and had a little help," State head coach John Cohen said. "Certainly, we needed something to get going and we did."

After being shut out in game one on Friday, the Bulldogs (40-23) exploded offensively to ensure another game this season.

With two outs in the fifth inning, freshman second baseman Matthew Britton was issued a walk. Junior catcher Mitch Slauter was also walked.
Junior third baseman Sam Frost doubled to center field driving in both Britton and Slauter to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.

"Those were huge runs and of course (Frost) took great, great swings (Saturday) and led the way in that area," Cohen said.

UAB answered back in the home half of the fifth inning when pitcher Ross Mitchell balked with two runners on moving them to second and third.
Tyler Mims grounded out to shortstop forcing a run home.

"We got great pitching," Cohen said. "I thought Ross (Mitchell) pitched great. I think if we don't balk in that situation right there, I don't think they score. The next two (plays) we give up are double plays essentially. I felt horrible for Ross because he was on a roll."

MSU threw up some insurance runs when they scored five times in the sixth inning.

Hunter Renfroe started the inning with a double to right center. Luis Pollorena, who started in right field and batted fifth, laid down a bunt but beat the throw out at first for an infield single.

"It is fun to see him do all that," relief pitcher Caleb Reed said. "We all go crazy when he gets a hit so it's real fun."

Wes Rea doubled down the left field line scoring both Renfroe and Pollorena. Rea later scored on a squeeze bunt by Slauter.

"That is something we just have to do," Cohen said of bunting. "UAB is extremely well-coached. They did a nice job defensively. The placements of our bunts really caused some havoc. I think we had three or four bunts that you couldn't roll them out there with your hand any better than that."

The Bulldogs took advantage of a couple two Blazer errors in the sixth and designated hitter Trey Porter capped the inning with a RBI single to center.

"We just kept hanging around and we had a couple of things happen for us," Cohen said. "We used the short game."

MSU added one more in the seventh inning when Britton scored on a sacrifice fly by Frost.

"You come to a regional on the big stage and you really want to play well," UAB head coach and former Mississippi State assistant coach Brian Shoop said. "I thought we did one game, and did not play well (Saturday). To take nothing away from Mississippi State, who is obviously a fine team and played very well."

The Bulldogs started Kendall Graveman on the mound. He went 3.1 innings pitched. He was pulled when two Blazers reached base in the fourth inning.

"There was nothing wrong with Kendall (Graveman)," Cohen said. "We just wanted to get another look in there, especially left on left. Kendall wasn't happy about that and you don't want him to be happy about it either. The strength of our club is our bullpen."

Mitchell ended the threat and got the win by pitching one inning of relief.

Reed got the 4.2-inning save. He only gave up four hits and struck out four batters.

"I went up to coach (Butch) Thompson after the eighth and I was like 'I've come this far just let me go ahead and finish this and save the rest of the guys,'" Reed said. "That gives us a chance. The less we use (Saturday), the more we have for the rest of the week."

UAB had only six hits compared to nine for Mississippi State.

The Blazers ended the season with a 32-30 record and a Conference USA Tournament Championship.

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