STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi State allowed back-to-back three-run innings late as ninth-ranked Arkansas pulled away to an 8-3 Southeastern Conference baseball win Friday night at Dudy Noble Field.
The Razorbacks won the opening game of the three-game weekend series and will look to clinch the series when the teams meet again at 2 p.m. Saturday. UA improved to 24-6 overall and 7-3 in league play - still one full game behind LSU in the Western Division standings. MSU fell to 16-14 overall and 3-7 - remaining in ninth place in the overall league standings.
The teams were deadlocked in a great pitcher's duel at 1-1 in the sixth inning. The Razorbacks then put together a three-run sixth inning. MSU answered with a lone score before the Razorbacks moved back out of danger with three more scores in the seventh inning.
Five of those six tallies came after two were out in the inning. The late scores put a damper on a quality start by MSU sophomore right-hander Caleb Reed, who was lifted in the seventh inning.
"You can't ask any more of Caleb," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "I love the way he competed today. I can see him in this type of role for this ball club, because he has been one of the few to step up."
Reed (0-3) worked 6.1 innings, allowing nine hits and six runs (all earned), with five strikeouts and one walk. In relief, Devin Jones was touched for a two-run home run by Zack Cox, which ran the lead to 7-1. Jones also walked in a run in the ninth inning.
Each team scored their first run in the fourth inning. Reed had retired nine straight Razorbacks before Cox connected for a one-out triple in the fourth inning. A sacrifice-fly by Andy Wilkins plated the game's first run.
In the home half of the fourth inning, the Bulldogs tied things on Nick Vickerson's third home run of the year.
The Razorbacks grabbed the lead for good when Brett Eibner singled right back through Reed on the mound, plating a pair of runs. An RBI-double by Monk Kreder ran the advantage to 4-1.
MSU plated a score in its half of the sixth inning. Sam Frost drew a leadoff walk and scored on a Luke Adkins' double to right center field. Unfortunately for the hosts, Adkins was thrown out at third base, essentially halting the chance at a big inning.
Reed was chased by a Collin Kuhn double in the seventh inning. Jones got an RBI-ground out before giving up the Cox round-tripper.
Drew Smyly (4-0) worked seven innings to pick up the win. The sophomore left-hander allowed five hits and three runs (all earned), with four strikeouts and two walks.
Arkansas finished with 12 hits. Kuhn, Bo Bingham, Cox, Eibner and Kreder each had multiple hits. MSU finished with six hits, as no Bulldogs tallied more than one base hit.
Saturday's scheduled pitching matchup pits UA right-hander Brett Eibner (2-2, 4.05 ERA) against MSU right-hander Chris Stratton (3-3, 3.75). The series finale is at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.