Clay Henry is the publisher and executive editor of Hawgs Illustrated. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and its All-America committee, voter for the Heisman Trophy and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Homers Power Hogs Past State for Series Win
Arkansas first baseman Chad Spanberger (left) celebrates with Jake Arledge and other teammates after Spanberger's 3-run home run against Mississippi State Saturday, March 18, 2017, during the second inning at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the game.
FAYETTEVILLE Carson Shaddy and Chad Spanberger homered in the second inning to account for all of the Arkansas runs in a 5-4 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday to win the SEC baseball series at Baum Stadium.
Shaddy hit a two-run shot to left, then Spanberger followed with a three-run homer to right as the Hogs won the first two games of the series with four home runs. They won 3-1 on Friday with all of the runs scoring on homers by Luke Bonfield and Grant Koch.
Spanberger fouled a pair of two-strike pitches before taking a curve ball deep over the MSU bullpen in left.
"It was a real good at bat," Van Horn said. "That last one hung a little bit. I think it was off the end of the bat, but he's so strong it still was way out."
Arkansas (16-4, 2-0) and Mississippi State (12-8, 0-2) complete the three-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Hogs won the series against the defending SEC champs. The Bulldogs ended the Arkansas season last year with a sweep in Starkville, part of a 13-game losing streak.
"I just told the team it's great we won the series, but they all count the same and the game tomorrow could be big at the end of the season," Van Horn said. "Both of these first two games could have gone either way."
MSU took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI ground out by Brent Blaylock. Brent Rooker and Luke Alexander opened the frame with singles and moved up on a sacrifice bunt.
The Hogs answered with five runs in the bottom of the frame. Carson Shaddy followed Dominic Fletcher's single with a line-drive homer into the Arkansas bullpen in left. Eric Cole walked and Jax Biggers bunted for a hit. Spanberger's homer followed.
The Bulldogs plated two in the third. Brent Rooker blooped an RBI single into center. Carson Shaddy's wild relay throw to first on a potential double play added an unearned run.
MSU starting pitcher Peyton Plumlee didn't make it out of the second inning. He had given up only five earned runs in his first four starts over 24 innings.
MSU cut it to 5-4 with a run in the seventh. Brent Rooker's foul ball pop-out near the tarp behind first base was good for an RBI sacrifice fly. Arkansas appealed that the runner at first left early, but that was denied after a long discussion between the four-man crew of umpires. After seeing replays after the game, Arkansas players said the umpires ruled correctly.
Arkansas starter Trevor Stephan (4-0) allowed pitched 6 1/3 innings to get the victory. He allowed seven hits, four runs (only two earned) and threw 98 pitches. Cannon Chadwick got the final eight outs for his second save, both against MSU.
"Trevor didn't have his best stuff, like he did last time out," Van Horn said. "He got a no decision last time, and he got the win tonight. It's funny how that goes."
Chadwick had a big week for the Hogs. He got the win on Tuesday, also scoring the winning run after a walk on a rare at bat by a pitcher.
"I told someone earlier that he might be the guy we close with," Van Horn said. "He got the final three outs last night."
Chadwick threw 13 pitches for the Friday save. He threw 30 pitches for his Saturday save. The bulk of his pitches both nights were breaking balls.
"I mixed it up tonight," Chadwick deadpanned. "Only 99 percent were breaking balls tonight. I had a few fast balls in there, but it was my curve and change-up mostly."
Van Horn was not sure on his Sunday starter. Among those under consideration are Josh Alberius, Dominic Taccolini and Kevin Kopps. Only Kopps has pitched so far in the series. He threw 13 pitches Friday night.
Attendance was 6,573.
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