Fayetteville, Ark. – Mississippi State’s Alan Johnson pitched six solid innings allowing only two earned runs as the ninth-ranked Bulldogs posted an 8-3 victory over the 16th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday afternoon.With the victory, Mississippi State claimed a series win against the Razorbacks and improved to 16-3-1 overall and 4-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas dropped to 18-4 overall and 2-3 in the SEC. The Razorbacks have now lost consecutive games for the first time this season.
Mississippi State has now won three straight series against the Razorbacks including two straight at Baum Stadium.
Johnson (3-0) scattered seven hits in the game and continually prevented the Razorbacks from mounting a prolonged scoring threat. Johnson threw 99 pitches in six innings of work and struck out two batters.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched the final three innings allowing only two hits and one walk with five strikeouts for his first save of the season.
Clint Brannon (1-1) took the loss for Arkansas after surrendering four runs, all earned, on six hits in three innings of work. Brannon struck out three and walked three on 65 pitches.
For the second day in a row, the Bulldogs took an early lead with a run in the top of the first. After setting down the first two batters of the game, Brannon struck out Brad Corley but a wild pitch on a swinging third strike allowed Corley to reach.
Following a walk and a single, Brannon walked J.B. Tucker with the bases loaded for the first Mississippi State run of the game.
The Bulldogs made it a 2-0 game in the second inning when Steve Gendron hit a sacrifice fly to right to plate Jon Mungle who reached on a single.
Arkansas made it a 2-1 game on an RBI fielder’s choice by Scott Bridges with the bases loaded. With Brady Toops (walk), Ryan Fox (hit by pitch) and Kirk McConnell (single) aboard, Bridges grounded to short who threw McConnell out at second, but Bridges beat the throw to first.
The Bulldogs increased their lead to 4-1 on Joseph Hunter’s two-run triple that scored Craig Tatum and Tucker. The Razorbacks had appeared to get out of the inning unscathed after getting a third-to-catcher-to-first double play with the bases loaded. But with two outs, Hunter tripled in the gap to right-center to plate two runs.
The Razorbacks made it a 4-2 game on Nick Pitts’ RBI single down the first base line in the bottom of the third. Clay Goodwin scored from second on the play.
Haas Pratt cut the deficit to one run at 4-3 with a solo home run to open the bottom of the fifth inning. It was Pratt’s sixth home run of the season.
Matthew Masiscalco and Gendron extended the Mississippi State lead with back-to-back home runs to open the seventh inning. Maniscalco made it a 5-3 game with his second home run of the year and Gendron followed on the ensuing pitch with his first bomb of the year for a 6-3 lead.
Still in the seventh, the Bulldogs made it a 7-3 game when pinch-hitter Brent Lewis hit a sacrifice fly to right that scored Corley from third.
The Bulldogs tacked on a run for an 8-3 lead on a single up the middle by Corley that plated Mungle.
The teams conclude the weekend series with a 1 p.m. game Sunday. Jarrett Gardner will take the mound for Arkansas, while Mississippi State sends Todd Nicholas to the hill.