Diamond Dogs Host No. 2 Kentucky In Final SEC Series
MSU baseball player card sets will be given away at Thursday's MSU-UK game while special $5 general admission tickets will be available to MSU faculty and staff at the stadium ticket office throughout the weekend series in conjunction with staff appreciation events on campus.
Mississippi State has already clinched a berth in next week's SEC Baseball Tournament May 22-27 at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. But the Bulldogs, in a three-way tie for seventh in the overall league standings and a game out of second in the SEC West, are battling for seeding in the expanded 10-team field of the six-day tourney. Kentucky, ranked as high as second in the latest national rankings, is vying for its second SEC baseball crown and first since the John Cohen-led 2006 Wildcats claimed the 2006 title. UK has a half-game lead over two-time defending national champ South Carolina in the SEC East and overall league standings.
Junior right-hander Chris Stratton (9-1, 2.22), winner of the 2012 C Spire/Ferriss Trophy, will take the hill in Thursday's opener, working opposite UK junior lefty Taylor Rogers (6-3, 4.60). Stratton leads the SEC in wins, ranks second in the league with 107 strikeouts and third with a 2.22 earned run average. It will be the 22nd career start at Dudy Noble Field for the Tupelo, Miss., native.
Junior righty Kendall Graveman (4-3, 2.69) will pitch for State in Friday's televised game, working opposite UK junior southpaw Jerad Grundy (4-2, 3.91).
The series matches Mississippi State, tops in the SEC with a 2.70 staff earned run average, with Kentucky, third in the SEC in hitting (.302), tops in runs scored (346) and second in RBI (317), hits (544) and home runs (54). The Bulldog defense leads the league and ranks among the national leaders with 58 double plays.
Sophomore shortstop Adam Frazier (.357) has his .433 in May (13-for-30) and raised his batting average 13 points over the eight-game span. The Bishop, Ga., native, a starter in all 52 games, has hit safely in 42 of 52 games and leads the Southeastern Conference with 190 assists. Sophomore outfielder Hunter Renfroe (.262) went 7-for-13 last weekend at Florida and begins the weekend riding a five-game hitting streak. A replacement for sidelined starting center fielder C.T. Bradford, Renfroe has recorded eight outfield assists, sharing he top spot with UK freshman outfielder Austin Cousino.
Friday's 7 p.m. contest will be televised by SportSouth while Saturday's regular season finale is set for 2 p.m. The radio broadcast of the MSU-UK series featuring Jim Ellis and Bart Gregory will be carried on the statewide MSU Baseball Radio Network. Live audio will also be available online on a subscription basis (www.HailState.com/hstvlive) while subscribers can view live HD video for the Thursday and Saturday games (Friday's game not available due to television coverage).