Mississippi State's Wes Rea did everything in his power to keep the Bulldogs from dropping game one of a weekend set with the Razorbacks, but in the end, Arkansas grinded out a 7-6 win to stay hot in SEC play.
Trey Killian got the start on the mound for Arkansas, looking to bounce back from his disastrous outing a week ago at Texas A&M. He continued to struggle with command of his pitches, and labored through a 37-pitch first inning. Good news, though, is he gave up just one run in the first on an RBI single to Wes Rea.
Arkansas answered back with some offensive firepower in the home half of the third, giving Killian four runs of support. Tucker Pennell got the offense going with a double to the gap in right before advancing to third on a bunt single by Clark Eagan. Joe Serrano then reached on an error, allowing Pennell to score.
Andrew Benintendi then kept his hot streak going with a single. Two batters later, Bobby Wernes stepped to the plate and delivered a two-run double to right to give the Razorbacks a 4-1 lead. Eagan also came back in the fifth inning and delivered a solo shot, his second of the year, to give Arkansas what appeared to be a safe lead.
But Wes Rea would have none of Arkansas pulling away, as he drove in a pair of runs in both the 6th and 8th innings. His two RBI in the top of the 8th inning came on a blast into the Mississippi State bullpen to give the Bulldogs a 6-5 lead. And the final of the four lead changes came in the home half of the 8th when Eagan came through with an RBI single and Joe Serrano drilled a single into centerfield, scoring Eagan to give the Hogs the lead for good.
Zach Jackson – who earned the win and improved to 4-0 – then returned to the mound and shut the door to capture Arkansas' ninth SEC win in its last 13 tries. Jackson, other than the six hits he surrendered, was phenomenal on relief of Killian, striking out seven of the 18 batters he faced and walking just one in 3.2 innings.
A couple of other notes from the game: Andrew Benintendi reached base in his first four at-bats, extending his streak to 13 at-bats dating back to the tail end of the Texas A&M series. He's now hitting a sizzling .390 on the year with three hits in four official at-bats.
Killian, as I mentioned earlier, struggled with command and had to grind out at-bats on the mound. By my count, of the 28 batters he faced, he threw a first-pitch strike to just nine. That's not exactly efficient, and it led to him throwing 102 pitches in just 5.1 IP.
Mississippi State outhit Arkansas 15-9. Of course, Wes Rea had a lot to do with that, accounting for five of the 15. Three other Bulldogs also tallied a pair of hits on the night.
Nonetheless, it was an exciting one at Baum. The game seemed to take eons to complete, but the Razorbacks put on a show for the home crowd, winning in dramatic comeback fashion.
Game two of the series is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Dominic Taccolini will get the ball for the Razorbacks on the mound.