FAYETTEVILLE (NWAOnline) - All good things must come to an end.
Such was the case for No. 16 Arkansas Sunday as the Razorbacks lost 5-3 to Mississippi State at Baum Stadium. The loss snapped a season-best eight-game win streak.
The Bulldogs scored two runs in the top of the fourth inning to take the lead for good, chasing Arkansas starting pitcher Ryne Stanek in the process. Stanek's throwing error to first base on a bunt allowed Mississippi State to tie the game before Jason Shepherd's sacrifice fly RBI gave the Bulldogs a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"They made some great defensive plays," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Their shortstop made a diving play that looked like a sure leadoff single for us and then there was a play in the eighth where it looked like we were about to go first and third with nobody out…and the second baseman made a nice play; kind of snowconed it.
"We had our chances but we just didn't cash in. We swung at some pitches that were kind of borderline and in certain counts that were disappointing. The bottom line is they did a good job to put some pressure on us."
Stanek, who hadn't started a weekend game since the third week of the season, lasted just three innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits.
"He's got to get it going and relax in the middle of the diamond," Van Horn said. "His error was a routine play. Just flip it over there and we'll go from there, and instead they got a run in and a runner at second and third. We're lucky we got out of that with them scoring only one more run.
"We didn't control the game on the mound very well."
The Razorbacks (26-9, 8-7 SEC) took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a Kyle Robinson two-run single. Arkansas extended that lead to 3-1 an inning later on a Bo Bigham RBI single to plate James McCann.
Bigham, who finished 1-for-5 in his leadoff position, extended his career-best hit streak to 15 games.
The Razorbacks, who entered the game with a half-game lead for first place in the SEC West, couldn't hold the lead, however. Jarrod Parks' RBI single pulled the Bulldogs within a run in the top of the third inning before taking the lead in the fourth.
Mississippi State (22-14, 6-9) extended the lead to 5-3 when Nick Vickerson drew a bases-loaded walk by Arkansas reliever Trent Daniel to score Parks in the seventh inning. The Bulldogs could have done more damage in the inning but stranded the bases loaded for the second time in the game.
Daniel, who pitched 3 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, kept Arkansas close but the Razorbacks were unable to produce much offensive in the late in innings.
Mississippi State reliever Caleb Reed gave up just one hit in 5 1/3 innings. Reed and fellow reliever Luis Pollerena combined to pitch 8 1/3 innings as starter Evan Mitchell was unable to make it out of the first inning.
"Our kids persevered and you just can't say enough about what Caleb Reed did for us," Bulldogs coach John Cohen said. "We got in him in there way earlier than we wanted to, but he hadn't pitched on Friday or Saturday, so we thought he was ready to (go the rest of way) if that's what we needed. He came in there and just kept shoving it in the strike zone on a day where the ball wasn't going to travel."
The win didn't come without a little controversy, though, as TV cameras caught Bulldogs' left fielder Brent Brownlee flipping off the crowd after recording the final out. Cohen said via his Twitter account the junior would be suspended and called the incident "unfortunate".
Arkansas will next face Oral Roberts Tuesday night in Tulsa before returning to SEC play next weekend at Kentucky.