Cue the cries of disappointment.
Arkansas baseball just fell to the last-place team in the SEC.
The Diamond Hogs led Mississippi State, 5-0, but lost 6-5. MSU scored three in the sixth, then plated another three in the eighth to do it. The Bulldogs entered the night tied for last in the whole of the SEC at just 5-10. Arkansas was in first in the SEC West at 10-5. The two play a doubleheader Saturday to conclude the 3-game set.
Biggest shock of Mississippi State’s win is how they achieved it. The Bulldogs pounced on Arkansas’ best pitcher this season, Matt Cronin.
Cronin entered after Blaine Knight went 5 2/3 innings. Knight was great until that sixth, but a 3-run homer cut Arkansas’ lead to two. Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn, instead going with a stop-gap option then to Cronin, the closer, went straight to Cronin. The sophomore lefthander was being counted on to work the final 3 1/3 innings.
Instead, he ran out of gas in the eighth. Cronin walked three batters – he entered the night with five walks all year – and gave up a two-run single. Mississippi State had tied with with two outs. Van Horn went get to Cronin and replaced him with Jake Reindl. Reindl inherited a runner on third. Elijah McNamee took the first pitch he saw through the infield and the Bulldogs went ahead.
Arkansas had taken a 5-0 lead after Eric Cole’s second-inning grand slam and a Dominic Fletcher sacrifice fly in the fifth. They had beaten around Mississippi State’s ace Konnor Pilkington who also left after five innings and giving up nine Arkansas hits.
Problem for Diamond Hogs was his replacement was magical. JP France worked the final four innings, didn’t give up a single base-runner and struck out 9 Razorbacks.
Grading the Hogs
Knight was great…save the one inning. Cronin was great…save the one inning. Shame of it is, those innings still count.
Cole’s home run was big. It was a mark against those who proclaimed Arkansas batters hadn’t been clutch lately. Then they failed to score another run on anything but a sac fly the rest of the game.
The Big Stick + The Arm
He had only given up two hits and walked nobody until the sixth. Knight also had five strikeouts.
Besides the home run, he drew a walk. He was one of five Arkansas batters to reach base twice.
The doubleheader is set to begin at noon local time. Finale will begin a half-hour after the finish of the first game of the day.