Mississippi State entered the 2013 season expecting to have another deep pitching staff despite the loss of last year's ace Chris Stratton. This weekend the Diamond Dogs proved just that and capped off a four-game sweep of Portland on Sunday.
MSU head coach John Cohen and his squad defeated Portland 7-1 and 6-0 on Sunday behind strong pitching and timely hitting. MSU moved to 4-0 on the young season and limited Portland to just three runs and 20 hits in the four-game series.
In the opener, it was Kendall Graveman throwing well for the Bulldogs with 6.1 innings of shutout baseball. Then in the nightcap, another senior - Luis Pollorena - kept Portland's bats quiet with 4.1 innings of shutout baseball.
"It was a really long day of playing baseball and I like the way our kids hung in there and played," said Cohen. "I really thought we pitched well. I don't think we were as sharp as we are gonna be. We didn't throw as many strikes as we wanted to.
"(Pollorena) comes in and closes out the first one and then throws 60-something pitches in the next one. I think his changeup against right-handed hitters is going to be a much different deal for him this year. Last year he struggled with right-handed hitters and now he has a weapon for right-handed hitters."
In the nightcap, Will Cox got the start for MSU and allowed three hits in his three innings of work. Pollorena (1-0) then took over and struck out six and allowed just three hits in his time on the mound.
"I was just trying to throw strikes knowing we have a good back end with (Ben) Bracewell and (Jonathan) Holder," said Pollorena. "Me personally, I was just trying to get everything I could to get to those guys. But I was just trying to throw strikes and Ammo (Nick Ammirati) caught a great game and the defense was making plays behind me. That allowed me to keep throwing strikes."
MSU held a 2-0 lead in the second game until breaking the game open with four runs in the eighth inning. Trey Porter started the scoring with an RBI single while Hunter Renfroe followed with an RBI double. Demarcus Henderson capped off the rally with a two-run single and it was more than enough run support for the MSU staff.
Renfroe, Henderson and Adam Frazier each had two hits apiece to lead MSU's offense in the second game. On the weekend, Frazier was 8-of-16 and the Bulldogs hit .355 as a team.
"It was a good weekend for everyone on the team and everyone was seeing the ball well," said MSU catcher Mitch Slauter, who was 6-of-9 on the weekend with four RBIs. "Every pitcher was finding the zone and had a lot of sink on their fastball. We saw a lot of double plays this weekend and that is a big part of our game."
No. 5 MSU returns to action Tuesday when Grambling State visits Dudy Noble Field for a 4 p.m. start.
MSU 7, Portland 1 (Game 1): The Bulldogs used a 12-hit attack to back a solid outing by senior right hander Kendall Graveman in Sunday's opener of the doubleheader.
Graveman (1-0) allowed just two hits in 6.1 innings of scoreless baseball and had four strikeouts with four walks.
MSU plated three runs in the fourth to break a scoreless tie and then broke the game open in the sixth inning with another three-spot. Junior Adam Frazier highlighted the fourth inning with a two-run triple while first baseman Alex Detz sparked the sixth-inning rally with a two-run double.
Frazier, C.T. Bradford, Mitch Slauter and Jacob Robson paced MSU's offensive attack with two hits apiece.
Portland starter Zach Torson (0-1) took the loss and allowed three runs on four hits in 3.2 innings of work.