By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – John Cohen wants to see more fight out of his club. He can expect that from Kendall Graveman today.
Mississippi State suffered its first shutout in 54 games, dropping an 8-0 decision to No. 3 Arkansas in front of 4,554 fans at Dudy Noble Field on Saturday. That evened the series at one game each, setting the stage for today’s rubber match at noon.
Graveman, a junior right-hander, will take the mound today for State (16-8, 2-3 SEC). He’s 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA, and in his last two starts he’s allowed just two runs in 171/3 innings.
“We’ve got a job to finish,” Graveman said. “They’ve laid the road map out for me, and I’ve watched two games now and watched their hitters, so I really feel comfortable.”
On Saturday, Arkansas starter Ryne Stanek found a comfort zone and stayed in it. In 61/3 innings he gave up just three hits, striking out six and walking two.
“Everything was to a corner and located well today,” said Stanek (6-0), “and when that happens it’s so comfortable on the mound to throw whatever you want.”
Cohen, MSU’s fourth-year coach, credited Stanek but didn’t like the way his hitters approached the righty.
‘You have to fight’
“We faced probably one of the best guys in our league and just really didn’t put our noses in there and fight,” Cohen said. “That’s what’s disappointing. To beat a guy like that on the mound, you have to fight.”
It was a scoreless game until Arkansas (21-3, 4-1) scored twice in the fifth inning, and they blew it open in the sixth with six runs.
MSU reliever Evan Mitchell issued a leadoff walk to Jake Wise in the sixth, then loaded the bases before giving up a two-run single to shortstop Tim Carver.
In came freshman Jacob Lindgren, and he allowed an RBI hit by Jacob Mahan and two-run double by Matt Reynolds to make it 8-0 Arkansas. Mitchell was charged with four runs and got only one out while walking three.
MSU starter Nick Routt (1-3) took the loss. In 42/3 innings, he allowed two runs on seven hits, striking out eight.
“The best thing that came out of the day is that Routt found his changeup,” Cohen said. “He had some swings and misses.”
Arkansas had 14 hits, including nine from the first four hitters in the lineup. Reynolds had three hits and three RBIs, while Carver had two RBIs.
Arkansas will send lefty Randall Fant (1-1, 4.82) to the hill today, and the Bulldogs like their chances with Graveman throwing.
“Obviously after his outing last week and even the weekend before, we feel really good,” shortstop Adam Frazier said. “He comes out and executes like he did last week, and we’ll be good to go.”