Mississippi State Baseball faces major test with Arkansas

Mississippi State baseball has built some real momentum late in the year, but they're up for a major test in Fayetteville.
Florida v Arkansas
Florida v Arkansas / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

Mississippi State baseball seems to finally be hitting its stride late in the season. The Bulldogs, who sit at 32-16 overall and 14-10 in the SEC, have now won three-straight SEC series following their series victory over Alabama. State is a consensus Top-20 team, and now, they're being projected by many outlets as a NCAA Tournament regional host.

But now MSU faces a major test. The Diamond Dawgs travel northwest to take on the #5 Arkansas Razorbacks. The Hogs, as usual, are one of the very best teams in the country at 40-9 overall and 17-7 in the SEC. Arkansas hasn't lost a home series all season. In fact, they've lost just twice in Fayetteville this year.

And of course State's history in this series hasn't been favorable either. Their last series win over the Hogs came back in 2018. The last time State took a series in Fayetteville was all the way back in 2007. It'll be a big challenge at Baum-Walker Stadium (the second-best college baseball stadium...) this weekend.

Arkansas has one of the best pitching staffs in the country

The Razorback pitchers are elite. They lead the SEC in both ERA (3.36) and batting average allowed (.207). Friday night ace Hagen Smith has been absolutely dominant. He's 9-0 on the year with a 1.36 ERA. Fellow starters Brady Tygart and Mason Molina have also been strong with sub-4.00 ERAs.

Arkansas' relievers have been great as well. Will McEntire, Stone Hewlett, and Gabe Gaeckle have all pitched well for the Hogs. State's bats have been wildly inconsistent this season, and they'll need their very best to attack Arkansas.

The Arkansas lineup isn't unbeatable

What's kept Arkansas from being the best team in the country has been their lineup. They've been a pretty mediocre hitting team with a .271 average. They're good about getting on base with walks, but getting hits to drive those baserunners home has been more of an issue.

Still, there are talented bats in the lineup. Second-baseman Peyton Stovall is batting .362 with eight home runs and 35 RBI. Shortstop Wehiwa Aloy leads the team with 11 HRs and 49 RBI. MSU's pitching staff has done a good job of pitching around the most dangerous batters they face. If they can limit the few stars in the Hogs' lineup, they can give themselves a chance.

Mississippi State needs to take one in Fayetteville to stay in the hosting conversation

Though a series win in Fayetteville would be incredible, realistically, that will be difficult to pull off. The biggest thing for State this weekend is to 1) continue playing well and 2) find a way to get one win. State has put itself in good shape to be a regional host in the tournament, but they can't really afford to get swept this weekend if they want to remain in the spot.

One win at Arkansas would be a perfectly acceptable outcome for the Bulldogs as they look to continue building momentum into the postseason.