STARKVILLE – For fourth-ranked Mississippi State to win its first SEC championship since 1989 the Bulldogs will need some other things to fall into place around the league this weekend.
But Thursday night MSU’s focus was solely on the task at hand, shutting out Arkansas 7-0 for its ninth straight victory.
“I’m going to check scores on Saturday but for now we’ve got to take care of our own business,” said MSU skipper John Cohen. “But I didn’t hear anybody on our bench talking about any of that tonight and nobody was running back to check their phones. I just think they wanted to win this baseball game.”
Dakota Hudson hurled his second straight complete game to improve to 9-3 on the mound. Hudson struck out 10 while scattering five hits and a pair of walks on 120 pitches. It was the fourth time this season he has pitched nine innings.
“I feel like it’s getting easier to play catch out there,” Hudson said. “At this point in the year, I’m where I can compete with any pitch and I feel like that’s what’s getting me through these games.”
With Hudson mowing down Hog hitters on the mound, State’s bats did their part as well collecting a dozen hits. Jake Mangum became the second Bulldog to go 5-for-5 this season, slapping out five singles to raise his batting average to an SEC-leading .423.
“It’s just see ball, hit ball,” Mangum said. “I just hit the ball where it’s pitched. It’s different on every pitcher but our scouting reports are good and that helps out a lot.”
Nathaniel Lowe added a pair of doubles and a run batted in while Jack Kruger had two hits including a double and a RBI. Gavin Collins chipped in a triple and an RBI as the Bulldogs improved to 19-9 in the conference and 38-14-1 overall.
Arkansas (26-27, 7-21) had five hits and committed five errors in its 11th consecutive loss.
Game 2 is slated for 6:30 p.m. with junior right-hander Austin Sexton (6-2, 3.69 ERA) taking the mound for Mississippi State. The Razorbacks have not announced a starter.