FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Nick Schmidt finally made his weekend start and No. 6 Arkansas finally got a win over No. 23 Mississippi State on Sunday, 9-3, in front of 2,844 fans at a chilly Baum Stadium.
It salvaged a win on the weekend for the Razorbacks to improve to 25-10 on the season and 8-4 in SEC play. It also keeps the Hogs atop the SEC West standings with a one-game lead over Mississippi State and Ole Miss. The Bulldogs fall to 21-8 on the year and 7-5 in league action.
Nick Schmidt improved to 7-0 on the season and 3-0 in the SEC with a commanding nine-strikeout performance. He allowed three runs on a season-high nine hits and two walks.
Schmidt became just the second Razorback in school history to record 300 strikeouts and is one K shy Matt Carnes (1995-97) school record of 301.
Mississippi State mounted a rally off Schmidt in the top of the eighth with three straight singles and chased him from the game. But Jess Todd came on a squelched the threat with a strikeout and an inning-ending 6-3 double play.
“I thought Nick (Schmidt) competed really well all day,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “After he got into a little trouble in the first inning and got the double play to get out of it, I thought he really settled in and pitched pretty well.
“Jess (Todd) was able to come into a tough situation with bases loaded no outs and strike out the first batter then get the double play to essentially end the game.”
Danny Hamblin and Matt Willard powered Arkansas’ 15-hit attack with his first four-hit game of the season and the sixth of his career. He and teammate Matt Willard both cracked three doubles in the game. They were the first Hogs to get three doubles in a game since Andrew Wishy had three against Centenary on March 19, 2003.
Hamblin was 4 for 4 while Willard was 3 for 3. Sean Jones also collected three hits, going 3 for 4 with a RBI and a run scored. Logan Forsythe went 1 for 5 with a RBI single to extend his hitting streak to eight games and 28 of his last 30 games.
Tim Smalling got things started with his second career home run with two runners on in the second inning to put the Hogs up 3-0. Hamblin had laced a double off the left-field wall and Brian Walker drew a walk to setup Smalling’s long ball.
“We had timely hitting today with the doubles, the home run and a lot of two-out hits which were huge,” Van Horn said.
A two-out rally in the fourth inning got the Bulldogs on the scoreboard on Jeff Flagg’s RBI double into the left-center field gap, scoring Brandon Turner who had singled one batter earlier. It was Flagg’s second double of the game and his third straight dating back to Saturday.
Flagg finished the day 3 for 4 with two doubles, a home run and all three Bulldog RBI. Brandon Turner also had two hits as MSU collected nine for the game.
Willard led off the bottom half of the fourth with a double into the left-center gap. A ground ball to first base by Smalling moved him to third and prompted MSU skipper Ron Polk to go to the bullpen for right-hander reliever Ricky Bowen.
Jones then slapped a ground ball past the shortstop to score Willard and the stretched it into a double. Logan Forsythe then singled to score Jones and make it 5-1.
Hogs’ skipper Dave Van Horn’s aggression on the base paths led to the sixth run when he waved Forsythe home all the way from first base on a single up the middle by Jeff Nutt.
Willard ripped his second double of the game to extend the lead to 7-1 in the fifth inning. His shot down the left-field scored Hamblin, who led off the inning with a single and then advanced to second on a fielding error by the left fielder. It was Hamblin’s second three-hit game of the week, who hit .474 in five games this week.
Mississippi State got two runs back in the sixth inning on Flagg’s two-run home run to left field and his third hit of the game.
Casey Coon added a two-out RBI single in the sixth inning and Jake Dugger plated the Hogs’ final run in the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly to center field.
Arkansas continues its nine-game homestand with Missouri State on Tuesday at Baum Stadium for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. The Razorbacks will then host SEC Eastern Division leader Florida for a three-game series at Baum Stadium Friday-Sunday.