By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – No. 3 Mississippi State lost its identity over the weekend but plans to get it back soon.
Where the Bulldogs normally thrive, mistakes were made, and that cost them again Sunday in a 7-3 loss to Central Arkansas. That clinched the series win for the Bears (14-2), who did a lot of the things MSU normally does well.
State (17-2) hit into three double plays in the finale, and its pitchers plunked five batters a day after hitting six. And there were two errors in the field.
Reason for concern with the SEC opener against LSU looming? Not really.
“We’ll be fine,” senior pitcher Kendall Graveman said. “We’ve got a lot of leaders in the clubhouse, and we’ll get this right.”
Graveman (1-1) started Sunday and tossed 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits. He struck out seven and had his sinker working, but he also hit three batters.
Central Arkansas broke a 2-2 tie with two runs in the fourth inning, scoring on shortstop Adam Frazier’s error and then on Forrestt Allday’s two-out RBI single.
At bat, MSU couldn’t solve UCA starter Bryce Biggerstaff (2-0), who struck out three and allowed eight hits in his second complete game of the year.
Coach John Cohen said the Bulldogs “just forgot about what our identity is offensively the last two days. That part needs to get better quickly …”
MSU had chances to rally but hit into double plays in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Leadoff man Adam Frazier was 0 of 4 with two strikeouts, and he hit into a double play after Brett Pirtle’s leadoff single in the eighth.
UCA added three insurance runs in the ninth.
Mississippi State plays Southern Miss (7-8)at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Pearl.