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Arkansas takes two from Miss. State


FAYETTEVILLE — No. 3 Arkansas fell behind 6-0 on Sunday after three innings, but then took control of the game to defeat No. 14 Mississippi State 9-6 and capture the series at Baum-Walker Stadium.

It was another rough start for the Arkansas starter. Mason Molina only lasted one inning and was removed in the top of the second with no outs after giving up four runs. Gage Wood, Christian Foutch, Will McEntire and Gabe Gaeckle then took control of the game. Wood did give up two runs, but that was all the Bulldogs could get in eight innings against Arkansas' bullpen. Dave Van Horn gave them props following the game.

"Yeah, so what a great job by our bullpen," Van Horn said. "I mean really all weekend when you look at it, they saved us this weekend. And then also the offense doesn’t get a lot of credit, but they did it on Friday. s much credit. And they did it again yesterday, just not quite enough. And then today, honestly, you’re down 6-0. Their dugout’s about as loud as they can be over there, talking a little bit of bull. And we just kept grinding it out and you know we we got a two-run homer here and a two-run homer there. And uh-oh we got another one and we had the lead. And McEntire and Gaeckle finished it up for us."

The Razorbacks had clutch hitting too. They got their nine runs on just eight hits and only left three on base. On the other hand, Mississippi State had 13 hits and stranded 12 runners.

"Probably the best team win of the year for us just because we were down, game three," Van Horn said. "It was just fun. The last few innings were really fun for us."

While Arkansas' bullpen was at peak form, Mississippi State's not so much. Mississippi State's pitchers hit the leadoff hitter in the fourth and then walked the first first hitter in both the fifth and sixth innings. All three scored.

Even though Arkansas lost 8-5 Saturday night they scored the last five runs in that game. Van Horn was asked if that comeback helped them today?

"I feel like it did," Van Horn said. "You know, I told Wood when I gave him the ball, I said, ‘Just keep it close, man. We’ve got time. When Christian came in, we’re thinking if he could get through an inning here, we get the next guy. Then you chip one away, you hit a ground ball to second after a double, no outs, you get him in on a chopper. We just punched one in just to change it up, a little momentum. And we just kind of got lucky here and there. The center fielder didn’t catch that ball and he ran a long way for that ball. The wind’s playing with it. But we ended up scoring that run I think. It added up."

Wood did just that working three innings, allowing four hits, two runs, walking one and striking out three. Van Horn also pointed out a clutch by a player who hasn't played that much in SEC games this season.

"It really was just some clutch hitting," Van Horn said. "It started with (Jayson) Jones going down and hitting that low pitch and driving it out of the park. The wind didn’t help that one. It didn’t help any of them. They were gonna go. But you know, just some big swings. Three big swings, six runs. A sacrifice fly by (Ben) McLaughlin, that was big because they brought their last guy in. You know he’s a guy that’s really hard to hit and they were hoping they’d get weak contact there and get out of that without a run being scored. McLaughlin didn’t waste any time. He just stayed through that pitch and hit it pretty good. It was a great win for our team. I do believe that we got confidence from Friday and Saturday that we could still come back and win if our bullpen would just give us a little bit of a chance and they gave us a great chance."

The comeback started in the bottom of the fourth. Jared Sprague-Lott was hit by a pitch to start the inning. With one out McLaughlin then singled. A wild pitch allowed Sprague-Lott and McLaughlin to advance a base. Ryder Helfrick grounded out to shortstop, but Sprague-Lott scored from third base to pull within 6-1.

In the fifth, Kendall Diggs started it with a walk. The next hitter Jones drove the ball over the fence in left field to pull Arkansas within 6-3. Peyton Holt then doubled. A ground out by Peyton Stovall moved Holt to third with one out. Sprague-Lott then plated Holt with a ground out to third. That pulled Arkansas within 6-4.

In the sixth inning, McLaughlin led off with a walk. With one out, Hudson White hit a shot over the fence in left to tie the game at 6. With two outs then Jones walked. Holt followed with a blast over the fence in left field putting Arkansas up 8-6.

The final run came in the bottom of the seventh. Sprague-Lott doubled to get the inning started. Wehiwa Aloy then grounded out, but Sprague-Lott advanced to third on the play. ,McLaughlin then lifted a sacrifice fly to center field that plated Sprague-Lott.

McEntire (5-0) got the win. He worked two innings allowing one hit, no runs, walked three and struck out three. Gabe Gaeckle got his seventh save of the season. Arkansas (42-10, 19-8) will finish up the regular season at Texas A&M beginning Thursday. Mississippi State (33-18, 15-12) reliever Cam Schuelke (2-3) took the loss. Van Horn praised Gaeckle and McEntire.

"I mean, (Gaeckle’s) coming off a day’s rest where he threw like 40 pitches or whatever," Van Horn said. "He didn’t have his best command, but I thought his stuff was better. He’s harder to hit. He ended up walking a few people, but he didn't give up that big hit, which was huge. We intentionally walked the lefty to get to the next guy, and he struck him out. That was probably the at-bat of the game right there for us."

An odd play happened to Mississippi State in the top of the seventh inning. Aaron Downs walked with one out. The next hitter flied out to left. With two outs, Downs tried to steal second, but the hitter had drawn ball four. Downs unaware the hitter walked slid into second base. He overslid the base and Stovall put the tag on him. Even though the batter walked the runner isn't allowed to be off second once he touches it. The umps got together and correctly called Downs out to end the inning. Van Horn was asked had he ever seen that play before?

"No (I think)," Van Horn said. "So Stovall didn’t know it was [ball four], obviously. He tagged him the first time and the umpire I don’t think made a call because he knew that he had just [walked]. And Stovall followed him and he went off. You saw it. He tagged him. I’m not sure, but I think the other umpire made the call and said ‘Yeah, he was out’ because he came way off. So Stovall tells me. But no, I’ve never seen that. I mean that was … they would have had runners at first and second with two down and you never know what’s going to happen."

Thursday's game at Texas A&M will begin at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Friday's game at 7 p.m. will be on the SEC Network. Saturday's game starts at 2 p.m. and also on the SEC Network.

Miss. State 8, Arkansas 5

No. 3 Arkansas dug itself too big hole to get out of and lost to No. 14 Mississippi State 8-5 Saturday night at Baum-Walker Stadium.

The Razorbacks, thanks to allowing nine walks and three home runs, trailed 8-0 after entering the bottom of the fourth. The Razorbacks did put together a rally, but just could never climb out of the early hole. Dave Van Horn talked about Brady Tygart's start and that of the Razorbacks.

"Yeah, obviously we had a really bad start on the mound," Van Horn said. "Ben (Bybee) came in after that, Tygart walks like four or five and you know we’re still in the game. Ben came out walked a few and he got a few outs. I mean it was a little bit of a roller coaster for us. Thank goodness ( Parker) Coil calmed it down a little bit, gave our offense a chance to score a run or two. And we did, and honestly we were just one big swing away from getting within one or two or maybe even catching or passing them."

Arkansas held Mississippi State scoreless the remainder of the game. The Razorbacks scored two in each of the fourth and fifth innings. They also got one in the bottom of the sixth.

"I was happy with the way the guys competed," Van Horn said. "I was disappointed that four of the last six outs were called strikes and we didn’t swing the bat. But other than that, I mean the start that we started with and the way our guys competed with, I was happy with that. Now it just comes down to a rubber game tomorrow. And we’ll see if we can get off to a better start and pitch a little better and we’ll get into the game. Hopefully (Mason) Molina will give us that, give us some good pitching."

Tygart lasted 1.2 innings. He allowed three hits, four runs, five walks and only struck out two. Bybee went 2.1 innings allowing three hits, four runs, only two earned, walked four and struck out three. Coil, Cooper Dossett, Stone Hewlett and Jake Faherty worked the final five innings only allowing three hits and one walk along with no runs.

Arkansas' pitching staff was good about not walking players and getting strike outs earlier in the season. Van Horn was asked what has happened in some of the recent games including tonight's loss?

"Well, I’ve seen Tygart walk some last week and now this week," Van Horn said. "And you know Molina walked a few the last couple of weeks and, you know, if it goes that way tomorrow he won’t be in there very long. We just want him to throw it over the plate. If they hit it, they hit it you know. I mean, we walked nine guys in the first three or four innings and we still had a chance to win the game, which is amazing, honestly, thanks to a couple of guys coming out of the pen and doing a really good job. But yeah, who’s to say what’s up there?"

The Bulldogs jumped on Arkansas for three runs in the top of the first. Two walks and a wild pitch put the runners on first and second with no outs. Dakota Jordan then singled to load the bases with no outs. Hunter Hines hit into a double play. Bryce Chance scored on the play. Amani Larry then hit a two-run home run.

In the top of the second, Tygart retired the first two hitters and seemed to finally feel comfortable on the mound. However, he then walked two hitters in a row. David Mershon then singled to load the bases. Jordan walked to force in a run for a 4-0 lead. Bybee came in and struck out Hines to end the second.

In the top of the third, Bybee walked the bases loaded, but got Chance to ground out to shortstop Wehiwa Aloy to get out of the inning with no runs.

'The top of the fourth was a disaster for Arkansas. Mershon singled and then Jordan blasted a home run for a 6-0 lead. Bybee then retired two hitters and appeared out the inning, but Aloy committed an error on what would have been the third out. Logan Kohler made the Hogs pay with a two-run home run for an 8-0 lead.

The Hogs finally got the offense going in the bottom of the fourth. With one out Ben McLaughlin walked. Hudson White, who has been swinging the bat well in recent games, then singled. Nolan Souza hit a grounder to second baseman Ethan Pulliam who threw it away allowing McLaughlin to score and White to get on third base with just one out. Peyton Holt then hit a sacrifice fly to center field allowing White to score pulling Arkansas to within 8-2.

In the bottom of the fifth, Kendall Diggs singled to start the inning. Jared Sprague-Lott reached on a fielder's choice with Diggs out at second base. Peyton Stovall then sent a shot over the fence making it 8-4 after five innings.

Souza walked to start the bottom of sixth. Ross Lovich singled with one out moving Souza to third base. Diggs hit a sacrifice fly to center field allowing Souza to score in what turned out to be the final run of the game.

Arkansas had one last rally in the bottom of the eighth. Whites singled to start the inning. After Souza struck out, Holt singled. However, both Lovich and Diggs took called third strikes to end the Arkansas threat.

Mississippi State used four pitchers. The second one to the mound, Cam Schuelke (3-2) earned the win. Tyler Davis earned his third save on the season. Tygart (4-3) took the loss.

Arkansas 7, Miss. State 5

No. 3 Arkansas rallied to come from behind Friday night to defeat No. 14 Mississippi State 7-5 thanks to a bases-loaded save from Gage Wood at Baum-Walker Stadium.

It took heroics from both Wood and Hudson White to pull off the win. The Bulldogs took a 5-4 lead with two runs in the top of the eighth. The Hogs rallied for three in the bottom half of the inning.

Peyton Holt singled to start off the rally. Jared Sprague-Lott followed with a one-out single. Wehiwa Aloy then hit another single to plate Holt making it 5-5. Ben McLaughlin then walked to load the bases with one out. White then added two more runs batted in with a single to right field providing the final margin of victory, White had hit a two-run blast over the fence in the fourth inning thus finishing with four runs batted in for the night. Dave Van Horn has seen this version of White at the plate in recent games.]

"We talked about it in Lexington that his Thursday batting practice was the best I’d seen him hit the ball in a long time and his bat speed was up a little bit," Van Horn said. "He made the comment that … I said something about ‘You’re getting it going, you’re getting hot.’ And he said that’s kind of what it’s all about. Getting it going at the end fo the year is better than at the beginning. Hey, whatever it takes. Whatever mindset you’ve got to have. But he’s been swinging the really, really good, obviously."

White, who transferred to Arkansas from Texas Tech prior to the season, is now hitting .273 after a very slow start to the season talked about what has changed.

"It was just a few adjustments in my swing, something that I’m kinda battling with all year," White said. "I finally felt like I turned that curve and it feels a lot better."

Wood, who has seen his stock rise more than any pitcher on the staff outside of Hagen Smith, in recent weeks came to the rescue in top of the ninth. Will McEntire (4-0) who got the win, allowed a walk and two singles to start the ninth. That is when Van Horn opted to bring in Wood from the bullpen. Wood got a pop up to second base, a strike out and then game-ending pop up to earn his second save of the season.

"What I saw was somebody that just went out there and competed and just seemed to enjoy being out there in that type of situation," Van Horn said. "I gave him the ball, I said, ‘hey, bases loaded, no outs. Have fun’. I walked off. I just tried to loosen him up a little bit. He just threw that high-spin, carry fastball and got a pop up. I don’t know, a strikeout and another pop up. He didn’t even throw a breaking ball. He threw a couple changeups. Really proud of him just going in there and kind of taking the bull by the horn, so to speak. He said, okay, I’m the guy. I’m going to get it done, and he did."

Wood, who is a candidate to start once the tournament's start, talked about his thoughts entering the game in a very tough situation.

"I just told myself that this is the moment that I dreamed about since I committed here and I’ve been in those positions before," Wood said. "Tonight, I pulled through and we got it done. I was just listening to fastball middle from Hudson White right here and it worked out."

With two more games remaining in the series this weekend Van Horn was asked could Wood be used again?

"Oh yeah," Van Horn said. "Yeah, he’ll be good to go. He works off adrenaline a little bit anyway. Once he calms down tonight, I think he’ll be good to roll."

The Razorbacks finished the game with 10 hits. Both Aloy and Sprague-Lott had three each. Van Horn was pleased to see Aloy get three singles and contribute without power. Many of his biggest hits this season have been home runs.

"It was big," Van Horn said. "He’s really been staying through the middle of the field during all of our batting practices. Like today, the wind was blowing out pretty hard when we were swinging at about 4:30, 5:00. Whenever it was. We hit a lot of balls out of the park, and Wehiwa’s got more power than most of the guys on the team. He didn’t hit a ball out. He hit a bunch of balls through the middle. He might have hit, maybe he hit one to dead center, but no pull. He hit everything through the middle, other way. I think his approach and the way he mentally handles his batting practice, he took it to the game and it really paid off for us."

Sprague-Lott, like White and Aloy, is another addition from the transfer portal who has been a key contributor all season. He's second on the team hitting .323 to go with seven home runs and 22 runs batted in. Van Horn was asked if he's surprised by Sprague-Lott's season?

"A little bit because in the fall, and what he did in the past, we had video of it, he was pull, pull, pull," Van Horn said. "At the beginning of the year, he was still pulling a lot. But his batting practice is the same. He didn’t come close to hitting a ball out of the park today. Everything’s through the right side, through the middle, right side. Then in the game, it might turn a little bit, but at least it’s between the lines. I think you can probably look back a month, month and a half, teams were shifting way over on him. Now, they’re keeping that second baseman over there because those flow starts are starting to show that, that he’s hitting balls over there. I just think he’s a really good hitter. He’s very coachable and has done a tremendous job of working to get better."

Holt is one of the most versatile players on the team. He has started at second and third base as well as left field prior to Friday's start in right field. He had an outstanding catch in right field against the Bulldogs to start the top of the sixth inning.

"The catch just showed just a really athletic player," Holt said. "The ball was absolutely smoked and I think it fooled him. Took a bad route to the ball, kind of up and over a little bit, and that ball started slicing back. That would have been more of a drop-step and run to the alley a little bit, but it was hit so hard and low, those are hard to judge off the bat. He made a last-second adjustment and threw his glove up there and caught it. That would have been a tough one because that would have been a leadoff double. Instead, we got an out there. It was a great play."

Smith didn't have his best start of the season. He allowed four hits and three runs in five innings. He walked four and struck out 11. Mississippi State starter Khal Stephen worked seven innings allowing four runs and six hits. Reliever Tyson Hardin (3-1) took the loss. He gave up four hits and three runs in just one inning of work.