FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A career-high five hits by Wes Rea was not enough for the Mississippi State baseball team Friday night.
Rea hit a go-ahead two-run home run home run in the eighth inning. However, No. 25 Arkansas answered with two runs in its half of the inning to take a 7-6 victory in the opening game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Baum Stadium.
Rea had five hits and five RBIS for the Bulldogs. As a team, MSU finished with 15 hits – the most in a conference game this season.
“Our kids really gave a good effort tonight,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “We just don’t close the deal out. It’s our fault as a coaching staff. Our kids were in a position and we just didn’t finish it out. We have a bunch of kids who are trying as hard as they can, maybe too hard.
“We are making some critical mistakes. That’s not as much defensively as it is on the mound.”
MSU dropped its fifth straight conference game to fall to 22-20 overall and 6-13 in league play. Fresh off a series win over then-No. 1 Texas A&M, the Razorbacks improved to 25-17 overall and 10-9 in league play. Arkansas remains in sole possession of third place in the Western Division standings.
MSU built a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI-single by Rea.
Arkansas built a 5-1 lead with four runs in the third inning and another score in the fourth inning. A two-run double by Bobby Wernes was the big blow in the third inning. The Razorbacks also scored on an error and a wild pitch. Clark Eagan homered in the Arkansas fourth inning.
Brent Rooker had an RBI-single in the fifth inning to bring the Bulldogs within 5-2. A two-run single by Rea brought the Bulldogs within 5-4 in the sixth inning. Rea’s two-out, two-run home run gave the Maroon and White a 6-5 lead in the eighth inning.
Arkansas came back with consecutive two-out RBI-singles from Eagan and Joe Serrano.
The Bulldogs got a two-out hit from Seth Heck in the ninth inning but could not pull even.
“We just don’t want to compete, these kids wants to win every moment,” Cohen said. “I feel like we are on the edge of winning some of these games. We just have to push through.”
Gavin Collins, Jacob Robson and Heck joined Rea in the multiple hits column with two hits each.
Arkansas finished with nine hits, including three-hit nights by Andrew Benintendi and Eagan.
Zach Jackson (4-0) picked up the win with 3.2 innings of relief.
Trevor Fitts (2-3) was the fifth of six MSU pitchers and took the loss. Starting pitcher Lucas Laster lasted two innings. Levi Mintz allowed two hits and one run (earned) in 3.1 innings of relief. Dakota Hudson, Vance Tatum and Daniel Brown also pitched.
The series continues with a 6:05 p.m. start Saturday and ends with a 1:05 p.m. start Sunday. Both of those games will be available on SEC Network +.
(From MSU Media Relations)