By Rick Harvey/Special to the Daily Journal
AYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Mississippi State couldn’t get the big hit when it mattered most Friday night.
Colby Suggs, the sixth Arkansas pitcher of the game, struck out Alex Detz with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning and the No. 15 Razorbacks beat the No. 25 Bulldogs 5-4 at Baum Stadium in the first game of a three-game series.
Game 2 is scheduled for 2 p.m. today with Mississippi State right-hander Kendall Graveman (2-2, 2.84 ERA) set to start against Arkansas right-hander Ryne Stanek (2-1, 2.35).
After losing a one-run lead when the Razorbacks (20-7, 5-2 SEC) scored three in the seventh Friday night, Mississippi State (22-7, 2-5) had its chances in its final two at-bats. The Bulldogs had their first two runners reach in the eighth on singles from C.T. Bradford and Hunter Renfroe, but Detz and Wes Rea flew out and Trey Porter grounded out to end the threat.
Then in the ninth, the Bulldogs scored a run thanks to a walk, a hit batter and an Arkansas error to pull within 5-4. Adam Frazier and Bradford then flew out, before Renfroe, who recorded his first career four-hit game going 4 for 4, was intentionally walked to load the bases. Detz then struck out on three pitches to end the game.
“It was just a typical Friday night SEC game. They got the key hit in the key situation and we didn’t,” Mississippi State Coach John Cohen said. “We had two of our best hitters up in the ninth and neither one of them got it done. That’s surprising to me because those two guys are very good players. Given that opportunity in the future I think those guys will get it done.”
Mississippi State tied the game at 2-2 with a two-run sixth and took its only lead with a run in the top of the seventh. Arkansas, however, quickly regained the lead with a three-run bottom of the seventh.
“We had 11 hits tonight, just not at the right time,” said Renfroe, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games. “With 11 hits you should win the game. We’ve just got to come out [today] and do the same thing and get a win.”
Luis Pollorena (4-1) suffered his first loss, giving up 4 runs, 4 hits and 8 walks while striking out 5 in 6 1/3 innings. He threw 130 pitches.