When the Central Arkansas Bears came to Starkville in March, MSU was riding high at 16-0. State had vaulted all the way up to #3 according to Baseball America and was ranked in the top 10 of every poll. A sweep in the series for State would have broken the school record for the best start set back in 2006 (18-0). But after winning the first game, UCA ended the streak and took the series as well winning on Saturday and Sunday. Here's a look back at what transpired that weekend and how it may relate to the opening matchup of the Starkville Regional between these two teams...
Game 1: MSU 4, UCA 2 - it was a bitterly cold day in Starkville getting all the way down to 30 degrees. Jacob Lindgren started the game but was only able to throw 9 pitches before leaving the game after taking a line drive off his knee. Myles Gentry was able to go 4.1 scoreless innings in Lindgren's stead, bridging the gap to the 5th inning where five more Bulldog pitchers would close it out including Johnathan Holder who recorded the save.
Central Ark's ace pitcher, Caleb McClanhan started the game and went 4.1 picking up the loss. After a perfect first 3 innings, McClanhan surrendered a single to Frazier and Detz in the 4th and Renfroe brought home the first run with a sacrifice fly. A Mitch Slauter double chased McClanhan from the game in the 5th - an inning which the Bulldogs took a 3-0 lead.
State had a 4-0 lead heading in to the 8th inning when Will Cox began his 3rd inning of work by giving up a leadoff double and was taken out. That runner would come around to score, and Holder gave up a solo home run to Michael Marietta in the 9th.
Here are the highlights....
Game 2: UCA 7, MSU 5 - This was a day game and a little bit warmer as it got into the 60s. Evan Mitchell got the start and his control problems took a turn for the worse as he walked three and hit two in only 2.2 innings, giving up one run. Fortunately Ross Mitchell was able to get out of a bases loaded jam in the 3rd inning to prevent any more damage than the 1-0 lead the Bears already had. Ross was able to hold UCA down in the 4th and 5th innings while State tied it 1-1 on a Daryl Norris double down the line that scored Slauter.
The 6th inning proved to be trouble for both Ross Mitchell and UCA starter Jeffrey Enloe. Mitchell walked and hit a batter that led to two runs being scored in the top half. In the bottom half, Henderson walked with 2 outs and that was followed by singles from Norris, Porter and Ammirati which tied the game 3-3.
Central Arkansas answered MSU's answer with two more in the 7th inning. Michael Marietta drove in a run with a double and came around to score himself.
State looked to be down for the count until a 9th inning rally. Renfroe drove in Bradford and with 2 outs Henderson drove in Renfroe to tie the game 5-5 and send it to extra innings.
John Marc Shelley (who has not pitched since this game) had entered the game in the 8th inning with the bases loaded and recorded the 3rd out. He also pitched the 9th inning allowing just one hit. He was lifted in favor of Brandon Woodruff (MSU's 9th pitcher of the day) for the 10th inning.
After giving up a walk, Nick Flair (who hasn't played since this game) committed an error at 1st base allowing a second runner to reach base, and after a hit batter Woodruff was pulled for Will Cox. Michael Marietta came up with another RBI hit for UCA as he gave them a 7-5 lead which they would not relinquish this time as Ethan McKensie would notch the first of his five saves this year in the bottom of the 10th.
Here are the highlights....
Game 3: UCA 7, MSU 3 - It was another pretty chilly early season game with Kendall Graveman getting the start for MSU. It looked like it might be another back and forth affair when the Bears scored two in the 2nd inning to only have the Bulldogs score two of their own in the bottom half, but when UCA scored two more in the 4th State never answered back.
Graveman went 5.2 giving up four (3 earned). He struck out seven but hit three batters. MSU played very sloppy in this game, especially the 4th inning which featured two errors, a wild pitch and a hit batter. Central ARK scored two runs with the benefit of only one hit.
The game was pretty quiet during the late innings. Chad Girodo and Myles Gentry both pitched scoreless innings. Bryce Biggerstaff pitched a great game for UCA as he went the distance for a complete game giving up 3 runs on 8 hits. Hunter Renfroe hit a solo shot in the 9th but it was too little too late; Jothathan Holder had given up three earned runs in the top of the 9th - Michael Marietta again with a RBI.
Here are the highlights...
MSU's probable starter vs. Central Arkansas,Luis Pollorena, did not pitch in this series. He was about the only one, Cohen used 14 different pitchers over the 3 games. UPDATE: Kendall Graveman will start this game. His line vs. UCA: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K.
- Myles Gentry threw 5.1 scoreless innings over two appearances. He struck out 4 and gave up 0 hits.
- Michael Marietta was 6 for 12 in the series with 1 HR and 4 RBI.
- Hunter Renfoe was 6 for 12 in the series with 1 HR and 3 RBI.
- MSU hit 12 UCA batters - 11 in the two losses, one in the win (UCA recorded 117 HBP this year).
- The Bears stole 90 bases this year, but none in this series. MSU stole 4 bases (55 on the year).
- Central Arkansas' ace is Caleb McClanahan (10-5, 2.17). His line vs. MSU: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K.
They may possibly pitchBryce Biggerstaff (5-4, 2.91) , however, his line vs. MSU: 9 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. UPDATE: McClanahan has been announced as the starter.
- The average temperature for these 3 games was about 50 degrees. It should be in the upper 80s this weekend.