FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A sprained ankle cost Nick Schmidt his spot in the starting rotation and No. 23 Mississippi State took advantage with an 11-9 win over No. 6 Arkansas in front of 2,209 fans at Baum Stadium on a cold night.
The Razorbacks stranded 11 runners on the night while the Bulldogs took full advantage of their scoring opportunities with just five left on base. The Hogs out hit Mississippi State 15-12.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak overall and a four-game streak in SEC play as the Hogs fell to 24-9 on the season. MSU improved to 20-7 on the year and 6-4 in league play.
Dallas Keuchel took the loss for the Razorbacks, dropping to 3-2 on the season. He allowed seven runs – six earned – on seven hits while walking two and striking out six in five innings of work.
Chad Crosswhite turned in a career outing to earn the win for the Bulldogs, working six innings and allowing four runs on nine hits. He struck out a career-high six and issued three walks.
A two-out hit by the Bulldogs cost Keuchel in the fourth inning when Jeff Flagg’s shot to right was just beyond the mitt of Julius, hitting off the top of the wall and bouncing back into play. It went for a two-RBI triple and put MSU back on top to stay at 5-4.
Mississippi State began to pull away in the top of the fifth inning. An error by Ben Tschepikow at second base got things started. Easley then followed with his third hit of the game with a double into the left-center gap. Mitch Moreland then laced another double into left-center to score two runs and give MSU a 7-4 lead.
Easley led the way for the Bulldogs with four hits in five at bats, including a home run and a double. Brandon Turner and Mark Goforth also got to hits for MSU.
Brian McLelland came on in the sixth and worked three-strong innings. He allowed just two runs and tied his career-high with five strikeouts.
The Bulldogs went to the bullpen in the seventh and Julius greeted reliever John Lalor with a one-out home run to right field. It was the first multiple home run game of his career and his fifth of the season as the Hogs cut the lead to 7-5.
Jeff Nutt hit his third home run of the season in the bottom of the eighth inning to cut the Bulldog lead to one run at 8-7. But Mississippi State put the Razorbacks away in the top of the ninth inning with three runs on three hits off McLelland and Jess Todd.
Arkansas pounded out 15 hits on the night, including four home runs that tied a season high and four doubles. Dugger led the way with a career-high tying four hits, including two doubles and a home run. Forsythe went 2 for 5 with a double and has extended his hitting streak to six games. He has now hit in 26 of his last 28 games.
Moreland moved to the mound in the ninth inning and closed out the game getting Tschepikow to pop out foul at first base. The Hogs did score two runs on three hits in the inning, highlighted by back-to-back doubles from Matt Willard and Dugger.
Dugger staked the Razorbacks to a 1-0 lead with a lead-off home run to deep right-center. It was his fourth home run of the season and first Hog to lead off a game with a home run since Craig Gentry did it against Tennessee on April 1, 2006.
Dugger drove in Arkansas’ second run of the game as well in the second inning with a two-out single to right field.
Mississippi State answered with two outs in the top of the third when Edward Easley connected for a long three-run home run to left field off Keuchel.
The Hogs came right back in the bottom half of the inning with a two-run home run off the scoreboard in right-center field. The blast scored Forsythe who had doubled to center field one batter earlier. It was the fourth home run of the season for Julius and put UA on top 4-3.
Game two of the series is slated for a 2:05 p.m. start at Baum Stadium on Saturday.