Mississippi State Baseball: No. 3 Mississippi State falls in all three games to No. 2 Arkansas
No. 2 Arkansas (19-3, 5-1 SEC) came to Starkville on a mission, and Dave Van Horn’s club capped off an impressive weekend with a 6-4 win on Sunday to secure a sweep over No. 3 Mississippi State (17-7, 2-4 SEC). The Bulldogs were outplayed and exposed all weekend long against the Razorbacks.
Game 1: No. 3 Mississippi State 2, No. 2 Arkansas 8
Arkansas set the tone early on Friday night, hitting three solo home runs off Bulldog starter Christian MacLeod in the top of the first to grab a 3-0 lead. Christian Franklin extended the lead in the fourth with his second homer of the game, and the Razorbacks led 5-0 through four.
Mississippi State got its first hit and run in the fifth on a Rowdey Jordan RBI single, scoring Lane Forsythe. Arkansas responded in the seventh with a pair of RBI singles and another run in the ninth to go up 8-1.
Forsythe’s second hit of the game scored Luke Hancock in the bottom of the ninth, but it was all academic as Arkansas cruised to an 8-2 win to open up the series. MacLeod took the loss, going 3.2 innings and allowing five runs on six hits, walking two and striking out four.
Game 2: No. 3 Mississippi State 5, No. 2 Arkansas 11
It was a reversal of roles to start as Mississippi State jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Saturday with RBI base knocks from Tanner Allen, Luke Hancock, and Logan Tanner. Arkansas got on the board in the third after Rowdey Jordan lost a ball in the sun out in centerfield, cutting the State lead to 3-1.
Kamren James got the run right back in the bottom half of the third, launching a left-center leadoff bomb. The Bulldogs appeared to be in control until the top of the fifth.
Braydon Webb hit a towering home run to left field to get within two. A misplayed pop-up with two outs fell between Brayland Skinner, James, and Lane Forsythe kept the inning alive, and Christian Franklin made State pay with a 3-run homer to left-center to put the Hogs in front.
The Bulldogs again answered with a big fly, this time an opposite-field long-ball from Tanner Allen to tie the game at 5. Arkansas responded with two home runs in the top of the sixth off of Bulldog reliever Brandon Smith to take an 8-5 lead.
After a weather delay that lasted about an hour and a half, the Razorbacks added two in the seventh and one more in the ninth. Meanwhile, Mississippi State’s bats went cold. Will Bednar pitched well until problems came in the fifth, striking out ten Razorback through five innings.
Game 3: No. 3 Mississippi State 4, No. 2 Arkansas 6
Sunday became all that more important for Mississippi State after dropping the first two in the series. Jackson Fristoe drew the start and pitched effectively early for State. The Razorbacks, however, got the offense going in the fourth with a solo home run from Matt Goodheart.
The Hogs tacked on two more on an infield single and an E5 on Kamren James’ errant throw. Robert Moore drove in another with a triple over Allen’s head in right field, and Jacob Nesbit‘s single scored Moore to put Arkansas up 5-0.
The Bulldogs came alive in the bottom half of the fourth, loading the bases with nobody out for Josh Hatcher. Hatcher got State on the board with a run-scoring fielder’s choice, and Brad Cumbest followed with a line-drive single to right-center to make it 5-2.
That’s all Mississippi State could manage in the fourth, and Arkansas tacked on another run in the sixth on a bases-loaded walk to Braydon Webb issued by Landon Sims. Luke Hancock and Logan Tanner responded in the bottom half, going back-to-back to cut the Hog lead to 6-4.
After Scotty Dubrule opened up the ninth with a single, it looked like Mississippi State may have some magic in them to grab a walk-off win. However, Rowdey Jordan grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, and that zapped all of the energy out of Dudy Noble Field.
Tanner Allen kept the game alive with a single to left field, but Jaxon Wiggins induced a Kamren James’ flyout to left field to end any hopes of a comeback.
Mississippi State will take a dip in the polls this upcoming week. The Razorbacks completely dominated a highly-anticipated series, and the Bulldogs will head back to the drawing board to address the problems that were exposed this weekend.
However, it’s only March, and there is plenty of baseball to be played this season. Mississippi State still has what it takes to return to Omaha in June, but it starts this week by cleaning up the mistakes in the field and on the mound and finding more success at the plate.
Mississippi State returns to the diamond Tuesday at 6:30 PM CT for a midweek contest with Mississippi Valley State. Kentucky will visit Dudy Noble Field this weekend for a Thursday (6:30 PM)-Friday (6:00 PM)-Saturday (2:00 PM) series.