(Photo Courtesy of Mississippi State Athetics)
It was a weekend to forget for the Boys in Maroon as the Arkansas Razorbacks came to town and handed the Bulldogs a 3-game sweep. The Hogs took all 3 ballgames by a combined 25-11 score. Arkansas showed why they deserve to be a consensus top 2 team in the country. I wrote a game recap Friday night, and then due to some logistical issues, I have neglected to write again until tonight. So, I will use this wrap-up to quickly summarize games 2 and 3 and then do a little breakdown as to why the sky is not falling in Starkville. Friday night was a punch in the gut, and I’m as guilty as anyone of overreacting to what was a bad loss. I have already been critiqued as being a little to rough on our Bulldogs Friday night, so I will open with this:
No, it was not a good showing as a whole for the M Over S
Yes, this team is very young, in terms of SEC play
Yes, there were some bright spots during the weekend
Yes, Arkansas is a CWS team
Yes, Mississippi State is as well
In the words of Tanner Allen, “There are 24 more conference games left, if you think the season is over, you’re out of your mind. We’ll be fine.”
The Bulldogs came out Saturday like a team on a mission, scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st to take a 3-0 lead. Rowdey Jordan doubled and scored on a Tanner Allen single. Luke Hancock and Logan Tanner also provided RBIs in the frame. Arkansas got on the board in the top of the 3rd when Rowdey Jordan lost a ball in the sun that fell and allowed Jordan Battles to score. The Bulldogs got that run right back in the bottom of the 3rd when Kamren James hit a no-doubter to left center to make the score 4-1. The Hogs took the lead in the top of the 5th on 2 home runs, a solo shot, and a 3-run bomb to make the score 5-4. Tanner Allen tied the game in the bottom of the 5th on a solo his own. The Hogs would take the lead for good in the top of the 6th as the wheels began to fall off the maroon wagon. Arkansas scored 3 in the 6th, 2 in the 7th, and 1 in the 9th to take game 2, and the series, 11-6.
Will Bednar got the start for the home team and went 5 innings giving up 5 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits while fanning 10. He was plagued by defensive errors that really killed the Bulldogs. 4 of the first 5 Arkansas runs came on plays following dropped 2-out fly balls.
The Sunday game didn’t go much better for the home team, but there was noticeably more fire from the Boys in Maroon. The Razorbacks struck first, once again on the long ball, in the top of the 4th on a Matt Goodheart solo shot. Arkansas on to score 5 runs in the frame. The Bulldogs chipped away at the lead in the bottom of the 4th when Josh Hatcher and Brad Cumbest each drove in a run to make it a 5-2 ballgame. The Hogs would add their final run in the top of the 6th on a bases loaded walk. The home team attempted to mount a comeback in the bottom of the 6th on back-to-back home runs from Logan Tanner and Luke Hancock to make it 6-4 ballgame, which is where the score would stay as the Bulldogs were swept.
Jackson Fristoe (2-2) drew the start for the home team, going 3.2, giving up 5 runs on 5 hits and fanning 7.
The Razorbacks lived by the long ball on the weekend, hitting a combined 9 on the weekend. Christian Franklin was personally responsible for a third of those.
Although taking a sweep at home is never something to enjoy, this isn’t the end of the season. In 2018, the Dawgs were swept at home by Vanderbilt and went on to play in the semi-finals of the CWS. In 2019, the Hogs themselves swept the Dawgs in Fayetteville, and the Boys in Maroon finished their season “Somewhere in Middle America.” I point out those instances to show that a sweep, or two even (Mississippi State was swept in Hattiesburg to open 2018), doesn’t end a season. If anything, a good team will use a sweep as a wake-up call. When we spoke to Tanner Allen on Sunday, after the sweep was complete, the senior outfield was much calmer than one would expect, as he said, “This may have been a good thing. Something to open our eyes.”
I expect to see the Bulldogs take the field on Tuesday night against Mississippi Valley State and then on Friday night to open a home series with Kentucky with a new fire in their eyes. Mississippi State baseball has always been a program that prided itself on never being out of the fight. So, to those who thought I was being too critical on Friday night, know this, I will overreact like every human at times. I will also never pump sunshine when things are cloudy, but I have not given up on this baseball team. The best is yet to come from the M Over S. That’s a fact.
Recap and Box Scores for both games can be found below
Now, for some tunes to lighten the mood. It’s a new week, and it’s time to move on from the sweep. So, to do that, here’s a song from a lesser-known artist that you would do well to add to you repertoire. Goodnight and Go Dawgs!!