Graveman frontrunner to start Saturday

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – With so much on the line, John Cohen is likely sending his senior captain to the mound.
Cohen said Wednesday that Kendall Graveman, a right-hander, will probably get the ball Saturday when No. 14 Mississippi State opens play against No. 6 Virginia at the Charlottesville Regional. First pitch is scheduled for noon Central time.
Graveman (6-5, 2.94 ERA) has normally been second in the Bulldogs’ weekend rotation, but he got the call in the Starkville Regional opener last week. In 61⁄3 innings, he allowed one earned run on four hits in a 5-3 win over Central Arkansas.
“Kendall is a senior, he’s a captain, he wants the baseball,” Cohen said. “And certainly I think he got us off to a good start in the regional.”
Graveman has had his ups and downs this year. He tossed three consecutive complete games in the middle of the season, then hit a rough patch.
The one earned run against UCA was Graveman’s lowest total since giving up one run in seven innings against Auburn on April 19. He feels he’s recapturing what he had at midseason.
“I just had to keep pitching and get back on top of the baseball like I’ve been talking about and coach (Butch) Thompson’s been preaching to me,” Graveman said.
“Once I did that I did feel like I was in midseason form, when I was really rolling there for a three- or four-game stretch.”
Ready for draft
Hunter Renfroe was a little late to his media session Tuesday, because his phone wouldn’t stop ringing.
“I probably had six phone calls in the last 20 minutes,” he said.
The reason: Renfroe is expected to be taken in the first round of the MLB Draft, which begins at 6 p.m. It’s an exciting day for him, but he’s kind of ready for it to be over.
“Once I have that off my chest and not have to worry about it, it’s going to be like I weigh 10 pounds,” Renfroe said. “It’s going to be a huge relief.”
The junior outfielder is batting .352 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs, and teams also like him because he’s a five-tool player. Renfroe said he doesn’t have a feel for which team might take him, but he should be in Charlottesville by the time he finds out.
“When they really like you, they don’t say anything at all, because they don’t want other teams knowing,” he said. “You never really know who wants you the most.”
Holder a finalist
Closer Jonathan Holder is one of five finalists for the Stopper of the Year Award, given by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. The winner will be announced June 15.
Holder, a sophomore, is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA and a school-record 17 saves.
brad.locke@journalinc.com