By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
OMAHA, Neb. – Kendall Graveman wasn’t feeling great on Friday, but you wouldn’t have known it by watching him.
The senior right-hander, in the biggest game of his career, kept a dangerous Oregon State offense at bay in a 4-1 Mississippi State win in the College World Series. Graveman (8-5) went 52⁄3 innings, allowing one run on four hits with two strikeouts and a walk on 74 pitches.
Graveman said that before the game, he wasn’t feeling well.
“Nothing’s wrong,” he said, “and we’ve had people come to us and talk that have been major league pitchers that say, three out of 10 times you’re going to feel good, and the other seven you’re not. So you’re going to have to figure out a way to win.”
Graveman figured things out by recalling his last start against OSU, six days earlier. In that 5-4 MSU win, he gave up four runs in 42⁄3 innings. He changed his approach this time.
“Graveman did a great job today and pounded the zone, was able to throw the ball on either side of the plate, gave us some different looks from the mound offensively that we didn’t see the first game,” said Oregon State left fielder Michael Conforto, who was 0 for 4 after going 4 for 4 against MSU the first time.
Graveman said facing a team for a second time is more an advantage for him than for the other team, because he feels he learns more by pitching against them than by watching film.
“He’s one of those guys that’ll go and sit in his room and think and will just get it down to a science of what to throw, when to throw it,” closer Jonathan Holder said.
Holder got the final two outs to record his 21st save this season, and it was the 30th of his career. That set a school record that had previously been held by Van Johnson.
“It’s a blessing to be out here, and (to) be able to get it in the College World Series is just something … I don’t know,” Holder said.
Holder is just a sophomore, so he’ll be able to keep adding to the record for a while.
“He just has a presence about him,” coach John Cohen said. “He’s an artist.”
Wes Rea has been swinging a good stick in Omaha, going 6 for 13 at the plate over three games. He had two hits Friday.
But the big first baseman – 6-foot-5, 272 pounds – had a big defensive play in the third inning. In a scoreless game, OSU had a man on second base with one out when Max Gordon laced a line drive toward first base.
Rea leaped up, snagged it, and threw to second to double off the runner. Rea said it wasn’t a difficult play, but Cohen still marveled at it.
“People just misjudge how athletic that kid is every day,” Cohen said.