FINAL: MSU 9, Arkansas 1 (SEC Tournament)

HOOVER | Recapping MSU’s 9-1 win over Arkansas in the first round of the SEC Tournament at Regions Park on Tuesday.

The buzz: Freshman Brandon Woodruff (1-2) was unfazed by the venue or the opposition, tossing five shutout innings and escaping some jams along the way. The bullpen did its job, as usual, and there was more than enough run support. This was MSU’s first SEC Tournament win since 2005, when it won the whole thing. It’s also State’s first tourney win over Arkansas in five tries.

Big inning(s): MSU (35-21) went ahead 3-0 in the second inning on one mighty swing from Wes Rea, who in his first SEC Tournament at-bat launched a three-run homer to left field with one out. Rea’s big bop was set up by Hunter Renfroe‘s leadoff walk and a single by Demarcus Henderson. State scored its other six runs in the ninth, the first three scoring without the aid of a hit. All came with two outs, and it was the biggest inning for MSU against an SEC foe this year (previous high was five).

Key stats: Arkansas (39-18) stranded 11 runners, seven of them in scoring positon. … Each team committed two errors, and State scored six unearned runs (five in the ninth). … MSU got the leadoff man on seven times in nine innings.

MSU at the plate: MSU had nine hits. … Adam Frazier was 3 of 4 with a walk, and he reached to lead off the first, third, fifth and seventh innings. Didn’t score a run, though. … Rea had the homer, three RBIs, two runs scored and walked three times. … Henderson had two hits and scored twice. … Sam Frost had a two-run single in the ninth.

Arkansas at the plate: The Hogs had seven hits, including three doubles. … Matt Vinson, the nine-hole hitter, was the only Razorback with two hits. … Arkansas lost three-hole hitter and third baseman Matt Reynolds in the third inning after he was hit by a pitch. In his place, Jimmy Bosco went 0 for 3.

MSU on the mound: Woodruff gave up two hits, struck out five and walked two. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third inning with a strikeout, and another in the fifth with a double play. … Caleb Reed got two outs and gave up Arkansas’ lone run, on an RBI single by Vinson. … Ross Mitchell tossed 1 2/3 shutout innings, scattering three hits. … Freshman Jonathan Holder got the final five outs to earn his seventh save.

Arkansas on the mound: Starter Ryne Stanek (6-4), who beat MSU in Starkville on March 24 but has been battling injuries of late, lasted 5 2/3 innings. He gave up three runs on four hits, struck out seven and walked five. … Three more relievers were used, with Barrett Astin giving up five unearned runs.

Bottom line: This MSU team is simply red hot, having won four in a row now and 12 of its last 16 games against SEC foes. Woodruff and Rea are both young guys who showed why coaches are so high on them. The offense continues to roll along, showing a nice mix of small ball and power. Up next is No. 1 seed LSU in tomorrow’s second game, same time slot as today’s. Ace Chris Stratton (10-1, 2.16 ERA) will start for MSU.

Quotable: “The big blow early from Wes, I think that enabled our kids to relax a little bit and play.” – MSU coach John Cohen