COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Mississippi State got another splendid pitching outing from senior right-hander Kendall Graveman.
This time, the 16th-ranked Bulldogs also saw the offense join the party.
MSU pounded out a conference-game best 15 hits and cruised to a 9-3 Southeastern Conference baseball victory over Texas A&M Saturday afternoon at Blue Bell Park. With the victory, MSU clinched a second straight weekend series in league play.
MSU improved to 29-9 overall and 7-7 in league play, while Texas A&M dropped to 21-15 and 6-8.
“The fast start was really important for us,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “Texas A&M has a great environment. They have great fans, just like we do. They stand, holler and do their thing. You know with Kendall, you will always have a great chance to win.
“So the fast start gave us a great advantage today.”
The Bulldogs built a 7-1 lead after three innings of play. MSU pounded out five extra-base hits, including Hunter Renfroe’s team-best 12th home run and Alex Detz’s first in the Maroon and White.
The early offense would be more than enough for Graveman, who threw a third-straight complete game.
“Kendall was tremendous today and very economical (110 pitches),” Cohen said. “You don’t like two solo home runs. But that comes from asking Kendall to fill the strike zone. When you have a big lead, you just shove the ball in the strike zone.
“A solo home run hurts your far less than a walk or two, which can lead to the big inning.”
Graveman (5-2) allowed nine hits and three runs (all earned), with six strikeouts and no walks. In the last 27 innings, Graveman has allowed 19 hits and four runs, with 13 strikeouts and two walks.
Defensively, the Bulldogs played their 20th errorless game and turned two more double plays, giving them five for the series.
“The defense is so important behind a groundball such as Kendall,” Cohen said. “We are playing the game at a very high level defensively right now.”
On offense, the Bulldogs grabbed the lead for good by breaking a 1-1 tie with a four-run second inning. Adam Frazier started the scoring in that frame with an RBI-double. Detz followed with a two-run home and Renfroe added one more as the Maroon and White went back-to-back.
In the ninth inning, the lead was expanded with an RBI-groundout by Demarcus Henderson and an RBI-triple by Frazier.
Frazier and Renfroe each had three hits apiece for the Bulldogs. Wes Rea and C.T. Bradford added multiple hits.
“We had a bunch of guys who took really good swings,” Cohen said. “In this game you are not going to be rewarded with a bad approach. It is important to go up there with a good approach and then some things can happen for you.”
For the Aggies, Blake Allemand, Brandon Wood and Hunter Melton each had two hits. Starting pitcher Rafael Pineda (3-3) was chased in the third inning, after allowing eight hits and six runs (five earned).
The series finale is at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. Neither team has announced a projected starting pitcher. MSU then returns home for Super Bulldogs Weekend and a three-game series against Auburn. The Bulldogs and Tigers meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday (ESPNU), 6:30 p.m. Friday (Comcast Sports Southeast) and 4 p.m. Saturday.