By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State’s baseball team is off to its best Southeastern Conference start since 2003.
The 16th-ranked Bulldogs claimed their third consecutive series to open league play by taking Sunday’s rubber game against Arkansas, 5-1. The win improved MSU to 20-10 on the year, and its 6-3 league record sits in a four-way tie atop the SEC standings with South Carolina, Florida and Alabama.
“Everybody wants to win every game but realistically everybody’s trying to win every series,” said MSU coach John Cohen. “I’m really proud of our kids. In some circumstances there’s a little bit of luck involved with how the schedule falls. But I like the fact our team came back and found a way to win the next two games after not playing well in the first game of the series.”
The Diamond Dogs got things going quickly as their second batter of the game, Alex Detz, belted a two-run homer to right.
“It was a 3-1 pitch that I was looking to put a good swing on,” Detz said. “The ball came inside and I was able to keep my hands in.”
The run support would be enough for the Bulldog trio of Trevor Fitts, Jacob Lindgren and Jonathan Holder. Fitts went the first 31⁄3 innings, allowing a run on four hits while fanning three before giving way to Lindgren.
The junior southpaw tossed four shutout frames and gave up just one hit to improve to 3-0 on the mound. Lindgren had a string of 12 straight batters retired including six consecutive strikeouts. He finished with eight punch outs and no walks.
“I really had my stuff today but it wasn’t all about me,” Lindgren said. “Trevor Fitts put us in a position to get there and Jonathan Holder came in for the save.”
Mississippi State collected seven hits on the day led by first baseman Wes Rea, who was 2-for-4 with two singles and an RBI.
Arkansas (17-10, 4-5) had six hits on the day led by Brian Anderson’s 2-for-4 performance with a pair of singles and an RBI.
Chris Oliver fell to 2-3 on the year lasting 61⁄3 innings allowing four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and a walk.
The Bulldogs return to action next weekend at LSU.