FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., – Mississippi State returned to the win column thanks to a brilliant pitching performance Sunday afternoon.
After a quality start by Austin Sexton, Zac Houston closed the door as MSU knocked off No. 25 Arkansas 2-1 in the final game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Baum Stadium.
MSU snapped a six-game losing streak to improve to 23-21 overall and 7-14 in league play. Arkansas, which clinched its fifth straight conference series win Saturday, fell to 26-18 and 11-10. With three weeks left in the regular season, MSU is tied with Tennessee for the final spot in the SEC Tournament.
Sexton (4-4) allowed five hits and one run (earned) in six innings of work, with three strikeouts and one walk. Trevor Fitts and Daniel Brown followed before Houston closed the contest out. Houston struck out three and walked one in 1.2 innings of work for his first career save.
The big sequence came in the eighth inning when Houston got a strikeout and groundout to end the frame with the Razorbacks leaving the bases loaded.
“We pitched it really well today,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “If you weren’t at the game, you didn’t know the winds were jetting out to right. You had the fear that someone would barrel a ball and the wind would carry it.
“Austin did a great job of forcing things. We used a good combination of people. Zac was really good there at the end. He lived with his fastball. He beat right-handed hitters to the spot. He is a sophomore and still learning. I am really proud of him today.”
The Bulldogs scratched a pair of two-out runs in the fourth and seventh innings.
A two-out error opened the door in the fourth inning. Luke Reynolds had an RBI-single to start the scoring.
Arkansas answered in the sixth inning on a walk, two infield hits and a bases-loaded hit batsman.
In the seventh inning, Jake Vickerson drew a leadoff walk and later scored on a two-out single by John Holland.
“We had some really hard contact with runners in scoring position,” Cohen said. “It was a team effort. Everybody really contributed today.”
MSU finished with 11 hits, with Reynolds putting together a career-high four-hit worksheet, while Jacob Robson had three hits for a second straight game. Holland had two hits.
Arkansas finished with six hits, including multi-hit games by Tyler Spoon and Andrew Benintendi. Jackson Lowery (4-1) took the loss with 2.2 innings of relief for starter Keaton McKinney.
MSU will face Ole Miss at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Trustmark Park in Pearl in the annual Governor’s Cup. League play resumes when LSU comes to Dudy Noble Field for a three-game series, beginning Thursday.
(From MSU Media Relations)