STARKVILLE, Miss. – Randall Fant allowed one run in seven innings and Brett Eibner was 3-for-5, including a grand slam, with five RBI as the No. 9 University of Arkansas baseball team topped Mississippi State, 13-3, Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field. The grand slam for Eibner was the second of his career. Five players tallied three hits in the series finale for the Razorbacks. The win gives Arkansas (26-6, 9-3 SEC) its first-ever road sweep of the Bulldog
On the mound, Fant shook off a bumpy start and logged a career-high seven innings in his fifth start of the season. The freshman left hander gave up just two hits, walked a pair and totaled four strikeouts. Fant retired the final 14 hitters he faced and 18 of the last 19. The Texarkana, Texas, native improves to 3-0 with the win.
"I’ve seen starts like that from young guys," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "He looked shaky in the first inning but he got through it and got better. His best innings were the fifth, sixth and seventh. He was throwing his breaking ball for strikes, was getting pop ups on his change-up and those pitches were making his fastball look even better than it was. That’s what you want to see."
The Razorbacks jumped out to an early lead with two runs in the top of the first. Collin Kuhn extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a leadoff single. Bo Bigham followed with a single to center and moved into second on the throw trying to get the lead runner at third. Zack Cox plated Arkansas’ two runs with a single up the middle and now has at least one RBI in seven straight games.
Mississippi State (16-16, 3-9 SEC) picked up a run in the bottom half of the first on a sacrifice fly by Connor Powers. Fant walked to the first two hitters he faced; leadoff hitter Nick Vickerson around in to score on the flyout by Powers. Fant gave up a leadoff double to start the second but retired the next three Bulldogs in order to get out of the inning unscathed.
Kuhn pushed the Arkansas lead to 3-1 with an RBI single to left in the top of the second. Tim Carver, who reached on a fielder’s choice, came around to score the Hogs’ third run against MSU starter Trey Johnson. With a one-out single in the inning, Monk Kreder increased his hitting streak to 14 games.
In the fourth, the Razorbacks added to their lead on a sacrifice fly by Travis Sample that scored Brett Eibner. Later in the inning, a double by Carver forced Johnson out of the ballgame.
Arkansas opened things up with a six-run seventh inning. Sample and Carver led off the frame with back-to-back base hits and were moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by James McCann. After a walk to Kuhn to load the bases, Bo Bigham lined a two-run single through the right side the infield to plate Kyle Atkins, pinch running for Sample, and Carver. The bases were loaded again after Andy Wilkins was plunked by MSU reliever Ben Bracewell, setting the stage for Eibner’s four-run blast.
The Bulldogs scored two runs in the eighth off reliever Geoffrey Davenport. Nick Vickerson drove in a run with a double down the line in left field and Russ Sneed had a sacrifice fly to bring home the Bulldogs’ third run. Jordan Pratt came in to work a perfect ninth inning to seal the victory.
"I was proud of the bullpen, too," Van Horn said. "I thought Davenport threw really well. He had a couple of closes pitches that didn’t get the call. Then, Pratt came in to a 10-run game and pitched like we had a one-run lead. He threw hard with a good breaking ball. I just like the intensity of guys coming in and getting it done and showing us what we need to see."
The Hogs added three more runs in the ninth with the big hit coming on a two-run single by Wilkins. Eibner picked up his fifth RBI of the game with a single to left.
The Razorbacks return to the field Tuesday for the beginning of a two-game series against New Mexico at Baum Stadium. Both games of the midweek set are scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch. Arkansas last played the Lobos during the 2004 season in College Station, Texas.