STARKVILLE, Ark. – Danny Hamblin crushed his career-high 11th home run in the top of the first inning to stake No. 12 Arkansas to a 3-0 lead and the Razorbacks made it stand up in a 6-2 win over No. 15 Mississippi State in the first game of a doubleheader at Dudy Noble Field on Saturday afternoon.
The win improves Arkansas to 29-11 on the season and 9-7 in Southeastern Conference play. The Bulldogs fall to 28-10 and 7-8 in SEC action.
Hamblin’s blast came with a pair of runners on base and the three RBI also gave him a new career high of 52. He had 10 home runs and 49 RBI a year ago for the Hogs.
Some unusual wildness from Mississippi State starter Brooks Dunn led to the big inning as he walked Jake Dugger on four pitches and Chris Hollensworth on five in front of Hamblin.
Arkansas starter Nick Schmidt didn’t have his best stuff either but settled down and worked seven innings to improve to 7-2 on the season. He allowed just one run on eight hits and walked two while striking out eight. His eight strikeouts gave him a new single season career high with 91 strikeouts.
MSU got to Hogs’ reliever Devin Collis quickly in the eighth inning as Joseph Hunter blasted his second home run of the season over the left-field wall. Collis then retired the six of the next seven Bulldogs hitters to close out the game.
The Bulldogs got on the board in the second inning as catcher Joseph McCaskill singled up the middle and right fielder Matt Richardson followed with a one-out double and Jeff Butts walked to load the bases. Jeffery Rea then grounded to second base for what appeared to be a double play, but Rea was ruled safe at first base to score the run.
The Hogs chased Dunn in the top of the third inning with runners on first and second base and Hamblin at the plate. Dogs’ skipper Ron Polk elected to go with right-hander Mike Valentine, who got Hamblin to pop up to the shortstop for the second out of the inning.
Hogs’ boss Dave Van Horn then went to his bench for pinch hitter David Hum, who delivered a RBI single to left field. Matt Willard followed with a high-chopping single over the head of the MSU third baseman to give the Hogs a 5-1 lead.
Dunn (6-3) pitched 2.1 innings and was tagged with five earned runs on just one hit – the Hamblin home run. He walked four and struck out two on 52 pitches.
The Razorbacks extended the lead to 6-1 in the fourth inning on a RBI double down the left-field line by right fielder Chris Hollensworth. It was Hollensworth’s 17 double of the season, tying Kentucky’s Ryan Strieby for the SEC lead.
The Hogs squandered a prime scoring opportunity in the sixth inning with runners on first and third base and just one out. Dugger grounded out to first basemen Jeff Butts who tagged first base and threw Clint Arnold out at second before Brian Walker could score.