FAYETTEVILLE – Eight of the nine Arkansas starters had at least one hit and Arkansas reliever Barrett Astin struck out all 10 batters he retired as the Razorbacks defeated Mississippi State, 6-1, on Saturday night at Baum Stadium.
With the win, Arkansas clinches its second-straight series win, runs its winning streak to eight straight games and improves its record to 26-8 overall and 8-6 in Southeastern Conference play. Mississippi State is now 21-14 and 5-9 in league play. With the victory and a pair of losses by Alabama to Tennessee on Saturday, Arkansas moves into first place in the Western Division, a half game ahead of the Crimson Tide.
The third-largest crowd in Baum Stadium history saw the contest as 10,784 fans were on hand to see the Razorbacks clinch the series. Over the last five home games, Arkansas has drawn three of the eight largest crowds in Baum Stadium history. Last weekend against LSU, the eighth-largest crowd in stadium history saw the Friday night game, while Saturday’s attendance of 11,103 was the largest attendance in the Baum Stadium annals.
Astin was outstanding in relief, earning his fourth win of the season. The freshman from Forrest City, Ark., retired 10 batters in the game with all the outs coming by way of strikeout. The 10 strikeouts were a career-high and the most strikeouts by an Arkansas pitcher since Drew Smyly fanned 10 at Florida on April 23, 2010.
Trent Daniel closed the game by throwing 1.1 perfect innings.
Mississippi State starter Nick Routt took the loss, giving up six runs on eight hits over three innings, to drop to 0-2 on the season.
Arkansas starter Randall Fant did not factor into the decision. Fant gave up a run on five hits with two strikeouts in 4.1 innings.
The Razorbacks got a balanced offensive attack in the game, with eight starters recording at least one hit. Freshman Jake Wise had the biggest hit of the night for the Razorbacks, hitting his first collegiate home run, a three-run blast in the third inning. Bo Bigham, Dominic Ficociello and Jarrod McKinney each had two hits, while Ficociello, McKinney and Kyle Robinson each contributed a RBI. Bigham extended his hitting streak to 14 games with the two-hit performance.
C.T. Bradford had a game-high three hits for Mississippi State. Brent Brownlee drove in the only run of the game for the Bulldogs, going 1-for-4.
After a scoreless first inning, the Razorbacks got on the board first with a run in the bottom of the second. With one out, James McCann doubled down the right field line and then stole third. After a strikeout by Wise, McKinney lined a single up the middle to score McCann.
Arkansas broke the game open with five runs in the bottom of the third. Bigham singled to center to lead off the inning and then moved to second on a single to left field by Matt Reynolds. A bunt single by Collin Kuhn loaded the bases with nobody out. Robinson brought home Bigham with a deep sacrifice fly to center field. Ficociello drove in a run with a liner that hit off the glove of the leaping Mississippi State shortstop and went into shallow left-center field, scoring Reynolds. Wise capped the inning with his three-run blast to center field to put the Razorbacks in front 6-0.
Mississippi State closed the scoring with a run in the top of the fifth. Taylor Stark doubled to the left-center field alley with one out and came around to score on a single by Brownlee to center field.
Arkansas looks for its second-consecutive series sweep on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Neither team has announced a starter for the series wrap-up. Sunday’s game will be televised on CST.