STARKVILLE – After finishing dead last in the Southeastern Conference a year ago, Mississippi State hoped to be playing meaningful baseball in May this season.
The fourth-ranked Bulldogs have now positioned themselves for a share or an outright SEC championship with a win today after taking a school-record ninth league series from Arkansas following Friday’s 5-1 victory.
MSU must defeat the Razorbacks in today’s 5 p.m. finale on SEC Network and could claim its first SEC title since 1989 if Ole Miss can defeat Texas A&M.
“We’re playing for an SEC title (today),” said MSU pitcher Austin Sexton. “We’re either going to win it outright or be co-champs. There’s a lot at stake. The boys are focused. Worst to first baby and we’re excited.”
The Diamond Dogs (39-14-1, 20-9 SEC) clinched a bye in next week’s SEC Tournament with Friday’s win and tied a program record with 20 conference wins. It was the tenth straight win for Mississippi State and also the 600th career victory for head coach John Cohen.
The Bulldogs collected eight hits against Arkansas led by Ryan Gridley‘s 3-for-4 performance with a pair of doubles and an RBI.
“Every single at bat I’m trying to hit it hard and make someone make a mistake or hit it where they’re not,” Gridley said.
Nathaniel Lowe was 2-for-3 with an RBI while Gavin Collins extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
Sexton improved to 7-2 pitching seven innings without giving up an earned run. He allowed four hits and two walks while striking out seven.
Reid Humphreys came on to pitch the final two shutout innings and fanned three to pickup his seventh saves.
The Razorbacks (26-28, 7-23 SEC) dropped their dozenth game in a row and have committed seven errors in 16 innings in the series.