Arkansas blows 5-run lead in loss to Mississippi State

By: WholeHogSports
Published: Friday, April 20, 2018
Arkansas pitcher Blaine Knight (16) pitches during the first inning of their NCAA college baseball game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Friday, April 20, 2018.
Photo by Jim Lytle
Arkansas pitcher Blaine Knight (16) pitches during the first inning of their NCAA college baseball game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Friday, April 20, 2018.

Mississippi State 6, Arkansas 5 - Final

The Bulldogs erased a five-run deficit to take Game 1 of the weekend set. Rowdey Jordan made a terrific diving catch in left to keep Eric Cole off the bases in the ninth. The play kind of summed up Mississippi State's night from the sixth inning on.

Bulldogs reliever JP France was special out of the pen in place of Konnor Pilkington. France struck out nine of the first 10 Arkansas hitters he faced and did not allow a hit in four innings of work.

Luke Alexander hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning to kick off the comeback, and the Bulldogs completed it by getting to Blaine Knight and Matt Cronin.

The series will resume Saturday beginning at noon. Due to the threat of weather in Starkville on Sunday, the teams will play two nine-inning games.

Mississippi State 6, Arkansas 5 - End eighth inning

Cronin issued a leadoff walk to Jake Mangum - his second of the night - and a wild pitch allowed him to advance to second. He then walked Luke Alexander to put two men on. Following a sac bunt, Cronin got Hunter Stovall out on strikes, but surrendered a two-out single to Jordan Westburg to tie the game.

Heston Kjerstad had trouble fielding the ball in left and allowed Westburg to advance to second.

Dave Van Horn has seen enough from Cronin tonight, who walked three batters this inning. Jake Reindl will enter in place of Cronin to face Elijah MacNamee with runners on the corners.

MacNamee singled to left on Reindl's first pitch to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the night. MacNamee was previously 0-for-3 tonight with three strikeouts.

Arkansas 5, Mississippi State 3 - Middle eighth inning

Arkansas absolutely cannot figure out Bulldog reliever JP France. He's struck out eight of nine Razorbacks he's faced and struck out Arkansas in order in the top of the eighth. He's done well getting ahead early in counts and keeping hitters off balance.

Cronin will return to the mound for Arkansas and face the top of the Mississippi State order.

Arkansas 5, Mississippi State 3 - End seventh inning

In true Matt Cronin fashion, the lefty has struck out the first four Bulldogs he's faced since taking over for Blaine Knight. Three of four hitters have gone down swinging.

Arkansas has Fletcher, McFarland and Biggers scheduled to hit in the eighth looking to add some insurance runs.

Arkansas 5, Mississippi State 3 - Middle seventh inning

France sat Kjerstad and Shaddy down on strikes to open the inning, pushing his run of strikeouts to five straight. The five Ks are a career high for France. Grant Koch then grounded out to second as we hit the stretch.

Elijah MacNamee, Marshall Gilbert and Rowdey Jordan are scheduled to hit for the Bulldogs in the home seventh. Jordan is 2-for-2 with a run scored tonight. Matt Cronin returns to the mound for Arkansas.

Arkansas 5, Mississippi State 3 - End sixth inning

Knight worked himself into essentially the only trouble he's faced all night, and Luke Alexander made him pay with a 3-run homer to left. It's just the fourth hit of the night surrendered by Knight, who's yet to record an out in the inning.

Knight's outing is over after 5.2 innings. He gave up three earned runs on five hits and struck out five. Matt Cronin will enter in relief to face Josh Hatcher with two outs. Unsurprisingly, Cronin came in and struck out Hatcher to end the inning.

Kjerstad, Shaddy and Koch are due up for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas 5, Mississippi State 0 - Middle sixth inning

France entered in place of Pilkington and struck out the side. It's the first time tonight Arkansas did not record a hit in an inning. France needed just 13 pitches to sit down 1-3 in the Razorbacks' order.

Rowdey Jordan, Jake Mangum and Luke Alexander are scheduled to hit in the home sixth against the cruising Knight.

Arkansas 5, Mississippi State 0 - End fifth inning

Knight allowed a one-out single to right, but fanned two more Bulldogs and got Marshall Gilbert to ground out to third to end the inning. Knight has allowed just two hits tonight and is at 60 pitches - 43 strikes - through five.

Martin, Cole and Bonfield are due up for the Razorbacks in the sixth to face reliever JP France, who replaces Pilkington. Pilkington gave up four earned runs on nine hits in five innings of work.

Arkansas 5, Mississippi State 0 - Middle fifth inning

Kjerstad singled to open the inning - Arkansas' fifth straight hit to kick off an inning - and moved up to second thanks to a throwing error. He later came around to score on Dominic Fletcher's sac fly to left to extend Arkansas' lead.

Jax Biggers, who stepped to the plate already with a pair of hits tonight, left Grant Koch and Jordan McFarland stranded in scoring position with a weakly hit ball back to Pilkington.

Arkansas 4, Mississippi State 0 - End fourth inning

Blaine Knight continues to cruise. Knight tagged out Luke Alexander to lead off the inning and got Tanner Allen and Hunter Stovall to fly out to end the frame.

Knight has been ultra-efficient tonight, needing just 44 pitches to get through four innings. He has just two strikeouts, but has faced only one over the minimum so far.

Kjerstad, Shaddy and Koch are due up for Arkansas in the fifth.

Arkansas 4, Mississippi State 0 - Middle fourth inning

Jax Biggers gave Arkansas its fourth consecutive hit to lead off an inning, but Casey Martin popped out and Luke Bonfield grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the top of the fourth. The Razorbacks are out-hitting Mississippi State 8-1 at this point.

Arkansas 4, Mississippi State 0 - End third inning

Knight surrendered his first hit of the night to Rowdey Jordan, but bounced back and got leadoff hitter Jake Mangum to ground out to Jordan McFarland at first. Nothing doing for the Bulldogs against Knight to this point. He's been sharp, throwing 24 of 37 pitches for strikes.

Jax Biggers, Casey Martin and Eric Cole are due up to begin the fourth.

Arkansas 4, Mississippi State 0 - Middle third inning

Heston Kjerstad and Grant Koch both singled, but that was all for Arkansas in the third. Carson Shaddy fouled out following Kjerstad's hit, Dominic Fletcher reached on a fielder's choice and Jordan McFarland fouled out near the wall in foul ground in right, stranding a pair of runners. The Hogs have left four on base tonight.

Knight is scheduled to face the bottom third of the Bulldogs order.

Arkansas 4, Mississippi State 0 - End second inning

Knight breezed through the Mississippi State second, and was lucky not to be injured after having his right foot stepped on by the Bulldogs' Josh Hatcher on a close play at first base. Knight has thrown just 21 pitches through the first two innings.

Heston Kjerstad will lead off the third inning for Arkansas.

Arkansas 4, Mississippi State 0 - Middle second inning

Eric Cole hit a grand slam into the Left Field Lounge to give Arkansas an early lead. It was Arkansas' fourth hit of the inning off of Pilkington and Cole's 8th homer of the season. Grant Koch, Dominic Fletcher and Jax Biggers each picked up hits prior to Cole's blast, and Casey Martin drew a walk to load the bases.

Koch was thrown out at second base by Pilkington when he rounded second base a bit too far following Fletcher's bunt single. Knight will head back to the mound now with plenty of run support.

Arkansas 0, Mississippi State 0 - End first inning

Blaine Knight, aside from leadoff man Jake Mangum giving a 1-0 pitch a ride to the track in right, had little issue with 1-3 in the Bulldogs order in the first. Casey Martin made a nice backhanded play at third for the second out of the inning, and Knight capped the home first with a strikeout of Tanner Allen.

Grant Koch will lead off the second for Arkansas.

Arkansas 0, Mississippi State 0 - Middle first inning

Casey Martin opened with a slow chopper to short and used his speed to beat the throw for an infield single. Eric Cole followed with a dribbler back to the mound, but Pilkington's throw to second went into center field.

Pilkington, though, did a very nice job working around trouble. He struck out Luke Bonfield looking, got Heston Kjerstad to ground into a fielder's choice and sat down Carson Shaddy on strikes as well.

The Bulldogs will send Jake Mangum, Luke Alexander and Tanner Allen to the plate in the home first.

Pregame

The sun is out and the temperature is in the upper 60s tonight in Starkville as Arkansas opens its three-game set with Mississippi State at Dude Noble Field, which is undergoing a $55 million renovation that is not scheduled to be finished until next season.

Blaine Knight is on the mound for Arkansas tonight, and the Bulldogs will counter with lefty Konnor Pilkington (2-5, 2.57 ERA, 64 K, 9 BB). Mississippi State has scored one run or no runs in four of its five SEC series openers this season.

Tonight's home plate umpire is Ryan Broussard.

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