STARKVILLE, Ark. – Mississippi State’s Brian LaNinfa crushed a two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to spoil an Arkansas comeback and give the Bulldogs a split of Saturday’s doubleheader with a 9-8 win.
A crowd of 6,728 at Dudy Noble Field saw the No. 12 Razorbacks win the first game of the doubleheader 6-2 and then erase a 5-1 third-inning deficit and take a 8-7 lead in the eighth inning. Stephen Robison put the Hogs on top when he ripped an RBI double off the third base bag. The double came off MSU reliever Justin Pigott, who had not allowed an earned run in 20.1 innings this season.
Pigott got the win to improve to 4-0 on the season after allowing a run on three hits in 2.1 innings. The No. 15 Bulldogs go to 29-10 on the season and 8-8 in Southeastern Conference play.
UA freshman Brett Bollman took the loss to fall to 0-2 on the season. He pitched well over 2.1 innings before LaNinfa got to him with one out in the ninth inning. Bollman allowed three runs – two earned – on 31 pitches. The loss drops Arkansas to 29-12 on the season and 9-8 in conference play.
The Razorbacks were playing with only one bench player all day as second baseman Logan Forsythe missed both games with the stomach flu and Craig Gentry wasn’t able to play with an infection in his right knee. It got worse in the second game when Chris Hollensworth was lifted in the fourth inning with the stomach flu, leaving the Hogs with no available position players.
LaNinfa went 3 for 5 in game two and 5 for 10 in the doubleheader. He hit two home runs in game two and drove in four runs. The SEC’s leading hitter Thomas Berkery went 4 for 5 with four RBI and a run scored. Berkery was 6 for 10 in the double header.
Arkansas had five hitters collected two hits each in the 13-hit Razorback attack. Blake Parker and Danny Hamblin provide the run production. Parker crushed a three-run home run in the fourth inning and Hamblin plated two with a double in the seventh to knot the game at 7-all.
It was Parker’s sixth home run of the season and RBIs 53 and 54 for Hamblin, who drove in five runs in the doubleheader.
Arkansas’ starter Trey Holloway did not get a decision after allowing five runs – all earned – on seven hits in just 2.2 innings of work. Brian McLelland came on in relief and worked 2.1 innings, allowing one unearned run on two hits.
MSU starter Josh Johnson worked six innings, allowing five runs on six hits while walking four and striking out three on 85 pitches. He was lifted for reliever Brett Cleveland, who allowed two runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning.
The rubber game of the series between the Razorbacks and Bulldogs is slated for 1:30 p.m. Sunday from Dudy Noble Field in Starkville. RHP Shaun Seibert (2-0, 2.38 ERA) will start for Arkansas while Mississippi State will send RHP John Lalor (2-2, 3.92) to the hill.