FAYETTEVILLE – For the fifth straight year the annual Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs 3-game SEC West baseball series ended in a sweep.
Only this time the visiting team did the sweeping.
Sunday in Starkville, Miss. at State’s Dudy Noble Field, Coach Dave Van Horn’s Razorbacks prevailed, 6-4 completing a sweep that began with Friday night’s 8-2 Arkansas victory and continued with Arkansas winning, 11-5 Saturday.
It not only broke the 4-year run of the home team sweeping this SEC West series that began in 1992 but marked just the second time, it happened in 2010, the Hogs have swept in Starkville.
Coupled with winning the last two of the previous weekend’s 3-game SEC West series with Alabama at Baum-Walker Stadium and two midweek nonconference victories at Baum-Walker over the Memphis Tigers, the Razorbacks bring 19-3 overall and 5-1 SEC records back to Baum-Walker for a 6:30 p.m. Tuesday nonconference game with the University of Central Arkansas Bears and a 6:30 p.m., 6:30. p.m., 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday SEC West series vs. the Auburn Tigers.
“It means a lot,” Arkansas freshman reliever Jaxon Wiggins said on Sunday’s radio postgame of sweeping after recording a 2-inning save. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming in. We just had to play our game. I think we’re hitting the ball way better than we were. Our pitching is unbelievable. Just all-around a great team to be around.”
Designated hitter Matt Goodheart, hitting a home run for four consecutive games starting with last Wednesday’s 9-4 victory over Memphis, started Sunday’s scoring homering in Arkansas’ 5-run fourth inning. Jason Battles’ RBI single plus a Bulldogs’ throwing error added the next two before Robert Moore’s RBI triple, and Jacob Nesbit singled home Moore.
Braydon Webb’s bases loaded walk netted a sixth-inning run.
The Bulldogs chased Arkansas starter Lael Lockhart during a 2-run fourth inning.
Ryan Costeiu, allowing two runs in 1 1-3 innings, logged the win as the pitcher of record relieving Lockhart.
Caden Monke, Saturday’s winner in relief, and Cabot’s Zack Morris each pitched a scoreless Sunday inning before Wiggins threw the last two innings, inducing a ninth-inning doubleplay with MSU’s potential tying run at the plate.
“Yeah, I was hoping for a ground ball,” said Wiggins, who then ended the game on a fly to left.
Arkansas hit four home runs Saturday. Webb, Goodheart, Christian Franklin and Cullen Smith did the homering.
Monke, off Caleb Bolden first relieving starter Zebulon Vermillion down, 4-1 in the fourth, won it retiring two batters before the Razorbacks rallied and Kevin Kopps logged 4-inning shutout save.
Friday night Benton’s Peyton Pallette finished what he normally starts. The weekend series opening starter until after ousted during Alabama’s 10-run second inning two Fridays ago, Pallette followed winning starter Patrick Wicklander’s five innings up 5-1, with a 2-hit, 1-run 4-inning save.
Franklin hit two home runs, one in the first inning as did Goodheart and freshman right fielder Cayden Wallace of Greenbrier..
“Wicklander gave us a great outing,” Van Horn said postgame Friday. “Pallette came in and saved our bullpen for the rest of the weekend. And obviously offensively we came out firing with three home runs in the first inning, all solo.”
Arkansas ranks second by D-1 Baseball and Mississippi State ranks third, but there was a marked difference this series in Starkville, Bulldogs Coach Chris Lemonis said postgame Sunday.
“We just got manhandled in all phases of the game and that includes coaching,” Lemonis said. “We got beat in every phase and we’ve got a good team, but we did not show up ready to play this weekend. I think we’re good, I think they’re good, but we had a couple of guys have bad outings that we haven’t seen all year.”