FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas overcame a two-run deficit with three runs in the eighth inning, including a two-run, game-tying homer by Kyle Robinson and a game-winning single by Tim Carver, as the Razorbacks defeated Mississippi State, 6-5, on a cold and damp Friday evening at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas runs its winning streak to a season-long seven games, improving to 25-8 on the season and 7-6 in Southeastern Conference play. Mississippi State is now 21-13 on the year and 5-8 in league games.
Trailing 5-3 entering the bottom of the eighth, Arkansas rallied in the late innings for the fourth-consecutive game, scoring three times in the eighth. Sam Bates doubled to the left-center field alley to lead off the inning. Robinson tied the game with his second homer of the contest, a majestic blast to the right of the batter’s eye over the 400 foot sign in center field. Dominic Ficociello then laid down a perfect bunt up the third base line for an infield single. A sacrifice bunt by James McCann advanced Ficociello to second. After a fly out by Jarrod McKinney, Carver lined a two-out single to center field, scoring Ficociello from second to put Arkansas in front 6-5.
In the top of the ninth, Nolan Sanburn worked a 1-2-3 inning and closed the game with a swinging strikeout of Ryan Collins to pick up his seventh save of the season.
Robinson opened the weekend series in impressive fashion, recording his first multi-home run game as a Razorback and finishing the game with three hits and three RBI. Carver added two hits with the game-winning RBI, while Ficociello also contributed two hits.
Mississippi State was led at the plate by Wes Thigpen, who had two hits and drove in three runs. Jaron Shepherd also had two hits and scored a run.
As it has done so many times this season, the Arkansas bullpen kept the Razorbacks in striking distance, pitching 5.2 shutout baseball and allowing just two hits, while striking out seven. Cade Lynch earned the win to improve his record to 4-1. Lynch did not allow a run over his 4.2 innings and struck out six. Sanburn recorded his seventh save of the season with a perfect ninth inning.
Mississippi State starter Chris Stratton took the loss. Stratton surrendered six runs on 10 hits with eight punchouts in seven innings of action.
Arkansas struck first, scoring a run in the bottom of the first. Bo Bigham led off the inning with a single to right field and then moved to second on a wild pitch. With one out, another wild pitch moved Bigham to third. Collin Kuhn grounded out to short to drive home Bigham to put the Razorbacks in front 1-0.
Mississippi State answered with two runs in the top of the second. Trey Johnson and Jonathan Ogden hit back-to-back singles to start the inning to put runners at the corners. A sacrifice fly to right-center field off the bat of Nick Vickerson brought home Johnson to tie the game at one. After a ground out to second by Shepherd, Thigpen singled into left field to plate Ogden and put the Bulldogs in front 2-1.
The Razorbacks tied the game with a run in the home half of the second. Robinson singled to start the inning and then moved to third on a base hit by Ficociello. A wild pitch advanced Ficociello to second. After a strikeout of James McCann, Jarrod McKinney hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Robinson and tie the game at two.
The Bulldogs broke the 2-2 deadlock with three runs in the top of the fourth. Johnson was hit by a pitch to lead off and then moved to second with a one-out single by Vickerson. A hit by Shepherd loaded the bases with one out. Thigpen drove home a pair of runs with a single up the middle. A single to left-center field by Adam Frazier scored the fifth MSU run of the game.
Arkansas got a run back in the bottom of the inning on Robinson’s first home run of the game, a line-drive blast just to the left of the batter’s eye in straightaway center field. That would be the last run scored until the game-winning rally in the bottom of the eighth.
Arkansas and Mississippi State continue the three-game series on Saturday with first pitch set for 6:35 p.m. Sophomore southpaw Randall Fant (1-2, 3.26) will start for the Razorbacks, while the Bulldogs will start junior lefty Nick Routt (0-1, 2.35). Saturday’s game will be televised by CST.