STARKVILLE, Miss. - Ninth-ranked Arkansas (25-6, 8-3 SEC) erupted for four runs in the seventh inning Saturday afternoon and went on to register a series-clinching 8-5 college baseball win over Mississippi State (16-15, 3-8 SEC) before 3,374 fans at Dudy Noble Field. The teams conclude their three-game series with a 1:30 p.m. CDT contest Sunday.
The Bulldogs out-hit the Razorbacks 14-12 and took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning. But Arkansas, quieted by MSU freshman starter Chris Stratton through six frames, sent nine batters to the plate in the seventh, parlaying two hits, an inning-opening hit batsman, a pair of walks and one of four Bulldog errors on the afternoon into a game-changing four-run inning.
Arkansas' Saturday win, coupled with an11-7 Auburn win over LSU, moved the Razorbacks into a tie for first place in the SEC West and gave Arkansas its first back-to-back series wins over MSU since 1998-1999.
First baseman Monk Kreder singled in two runs to put Arkansas on top 4-2 in the inning and drove in the Hogs' final run of the game with a sacrifice fly in a three-run eighth innings burst. Collin Kuhn opened the frame with his eighth home run of the season.
"These are the type of games that hurt," said State skipper John Cohen. "We had guys playing out of position out of necessity, and
that's where our errors are coming from. We had a few base-running errors from seniors who are just trying to make something happen and do something extraordinary. And we probably spend more time on base-running that anyone else in the country. Our kids never give up... they always keeping fighting. The pieces are coming together, they just aren't there yet."
Stratton scattered seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts, allowing two runs (one earned) over six-plus innings. He blanked the
Hogs over the first four frames before James McCann doubled and when Zack Cox laced a two-out single up the middle UA broke up the shutout. He left the game after hitting Kuhn to open the seventh.
Arkansas starter Brett Eibner held State scoreless for four innings and rang up 10 strikeouts while giving up seven hits and two walks. The Bulldogs took their first lead of the weekend series in the fifth off Eibner when Connor Powers followed a two-out walk by Russ Sneed with a run-scoring double to right. Ryan Duffy followed with an RBI single for a 2-1 Bulldogs lead.
Sneed launched his fifth home run of the game, a solo shot to left, in the seventh. It was the only run allowed in 1.2 innings of relief by
Jeremy Heatley (3-0), the winning pitcher. State's Nick Vickerson added a two-run blast in the ninth off closer D.J. Baxendale, who pitched the final three innings to earn his seventh save.
Sneed, Duffy and Ryan Collins registered three-hit performances to lead MSU's 14-hit attack. Arkansas got two-hit outings from Zack Cox, Kreder, Tim Carver and Travis Sample.
Arkansas is expected to send freshman LHP Randall Fant (2-0, 2.08) to the hill for his fifth start of the season in Sunday's series finale.
MSU's Sunday starter has not been set.