June 3, 2012
In an NCAA Regional where runs have been mostly hard to come by, Samford needed some clutch hitting late and a lucky break to defeat Mississippi State, 3-2, on Sunday afternoon in an elimination game at Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. Samford advances to the regional championship game this evening against Florida State and will have to defeat the Seminoles twice to reach the NCAA Super Regionals.
Tonight’s game against the top-seeded Seminoles begins at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN3. FSU defeated Samford on Saturday evening in the winner’s bracket game by an 8-1 score. The Seminoles are designated as the home team.
Despite leaving 13 on base in today’s game, Samford came through when it needed to in a two-run seventh inning that included a big two-out RBI double by Brandon Miller and a subsequent throwing error by Mississippi State third baseman Sam Frost that created what would be the game-winning run.
Samford was led by Zeth Stone, Brad Moss, Miller and C.K. Irby, as each recorded two hits apiece to account for eight of the team’s 12 base hits. Reliever Joseph Burns (4-1) earned the win in relief, not allowing a run in 1.2 innings and striking out two. Irby switched to the mound in the ninth inning and recorded a save after throwing one shutout inning, picking up his 10th save of the season. With two runners in scoring position in the ninth inning and one out, Irby struck out Mississippi State’s Demarcus Henderson then forced a game-ending flyout by designated hitter Brent Brownlee to get the win in front of 3,081.
Mississippi State manufactured its first run of the game in the top of the first, as Hunter Renfroe’s fielder’s choice at shortstop brought in Adam Frazier from third base to make it 1-0. Frazier led off the game with a single to left field, then stole his ninth bag of the season to put himself in scoring position. After Henderson walked, both runners were moved over on a well-placed sacrifice bunt by Trey Porter to set up the first run scored.
Wes Rea began the top of the second inning with a double to the left center gap, then advanced to third base on an infield single by Matthew Britton. However, Rea was thrown out at home plate after a bunt to the right side by Mitch Slauter was handled by Samford first baseman Saxon Butler for the key out at the plate.
Rea, Britton and Frazier led MSU with two hits apiece. Mississippi State used six pitchers in today’s contest, with Jonathan Holder taking the loss after allowing two runs, one earned, in the seventh inning.
An RBI single by Britton in the top of the fourth gave Mississippi State a 2-0 advantage, as he drove in Luis Pollorena who led off the inning with a single up the middle. Samford responded in the bottom half when Tommy Corbin recorded a two-out single to centerfield to score Miller. On the same play, Irby was thrown out by centerfielder Renfroe after trying to score from second base to preserve the Mississippi State lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Samford notched two runs with two outs as Miller doubled to left field to bring in Phillip Ervin and tie the game at 2-2. Irby then stepped to the plate and hit a routine grounder that was underthrown by third baseman Sam Frost to allow Miller to score from second base and give Samford a 3-2 edge.