HOOVER, Ala. — Arkansas baseball lost a dramatic 4-3 game against Mississippi State on Thursday in the SEC Tournament.
After taking a 3-0 lead in the second inning, Arkansas’ offense went cold for the rest of the contest, opening the door for the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State responded with a 2-run ninth-inning to earn the victory.
The second-round loss dropped the Razorbacks to the consolation bracket. Arkansas baseball plays again later Thursday — against Auburn about 5 p.m. CT. The Tigers won the teams’ regular-season series, two games to one.
Here are the highlights from what Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn and second baseman Carson Shaddy said following the loss.
Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn
- On what went wrong in the final inning: “What we went is they got a leadoff single, then they got a double from the best player probably in college baseball this year [SEC Player of the Year Brent Rooker]. We didn’t make a couple of pitches. We were very fortunate to get out of that inning only giving up two runs and still had an opportunity to win it. We hit a guy, we walked a guy and gave up a couple of hits. You can’t overcome that.”
- On if he knew Brent Rooker would be coming up: “Yeah, we knew it. We knew a couple of innings earlier that we had to go three-up, three-down in the eighth and three-up, three-down in the ninth so we wouldn’t get to him. Obviously it didn’t happen. The bullpen didn’t do a very good job, hanging pitches. Not real sharp. The game probably got away from us early. We left a lot of runners on base, as did they. They made three or four really nice plays in the field that kept us from scoring and advancing. Rooker made two of them at first. Just give them credit with the defense for keeping us from scoring more runs.”
- On if he sensed any letup after taking the early lead: “No. I just think they pitched us better. We had runners all over the bases. We just couldn’t punch one in. Just a good job by their pitchers getting out of jams.”
- On what he’ll do pitching wise: “We’re probably going to throw [right-hander Dominic] Taccolini to start. Then we’ll do whatever we need to do after that.”
- On if he’ll make any changes to the lineup for the second game: “I don’t know. Just depends. I don’t know who they’re throwing, but we’ll look at that. Maybe one or two, but we’ve pretty much gone with the same lineup all year.”
- On what he says to the team with quick turnaround: “Really what I just said to you guys. We had some opportunities early, and we didn’t finish the job and build that lead up a little more. Give them credit for making some really nice plays defensively. We got to find a way to move on, learn from this and hope they play better when we play again.”
- On what happened offensively down the stretch: “Like coach said to us in post-game, we kind of sat on the lead a little bit too long instead of staying on the gas pedal. It happens. It’s baseball. You got to give it to Mississippi State. They’re a really good team. They had a really good chance to score when they put [Ryan] Gridley on. Then the SEC Player of the Year [Brent Rooker] came in and did what he’s supposed to do. You gotta give it to them. They had more than 10 hits. Good for them.”