The Mississippi State Bulldogs took advantage of solid pitching from Chris Stratton on Friday night.
On Saturday, it was Arkansas’ turn to rely on Ryne Stanek, who shut out the MSU offensive attack for the first time in 54 games and helped the Razorbacks to an 8-0 victory.
Arkansas' pitching was nothing short of spectacular as the combination of Stanek and Cade Lynch held MSU to just three hits for the afternoon.
Stanek (6-0) was lifted with one out in the seventh inning. For the contest, the sophomore right-hander allowed three hits, with six strikeouts and only two walks. Lynch faced the minimum in 2.2 innings of relief work.
“He was changing eye levels, being up and down in the zone, throwing hard," MSU shortstop Adam Frazier said. "He was changing speeds with his slider and change-up working too. You’ve got to tip your hat to him. That’s all you can do really.”
Mississippi State head coach John Cohen agreed by saying Stanek was about as good as the Southeastern Conference has to offer.
“We faced probably the best guy in our league and we didn’t stick our noses in there and fight," Cohen said. "That’s what’s disappointing. To beat a guy like that on the mound, you’ve got to fight.”
State simply couldn’t muster an offensive threat of any sort which led to Stanek becoming more and more dominate as the afternoon wore on.
For the Bulldogs, pitcher Nick Routt fell to 1-2 for the season after being chased from the game in the fifth when Arkansas plated its first runs of the contest to take the 2-0 lead.
Evan Mitchell entered the game and the wheels came off for Mississippi State in the sixth when the Razorbacks sent 10 men to the plate, scoring six times and breaking the game open.
“The best thing that came out of the day is that Routt found his change-up,” said Cohen. “We got some swings and misses and I think we had 14 punchouts as a club, but the five walks really hurt us in the fifth and sixth innings.”
The Razorbacks were led by Matt Reynolds at the plate with three his and three RBIs, while Tim Carver, Jacob Mahan, Derrick Bleeker and Dominic Ficociello each had a pair of hits.
Following the game, Cohen found positives in his team’s loss.
“I was really pleased with our freshmen," Cohen said of Jacob Lindgren and Trevor Fitts who held the Razorbacks in check as they closed out the final four innings for the Bulldogs. "I think at one point they had retired 11 in a row and got a bunch of strikeouts too."
Today, State takes the field at noon in the deciding game of the series with Kendall Graveman on the mound.
While Graveman has had success, Cohen knows the game will be decided at the plate.
“We have to compete better at home plate,” Cohen said. “If you can’t score, you can’t win. You can’t win every game 1-0.”