STARKVILLE, Miss. (ArkansasRazorbacks.com) – Arkansas scored five runs in the top of the 11th to break a 3-3 tie as the No. 3 Razorbacks defeated Mississippi State, 8-5, on Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
The victory clinched the series for Arkansas, which improved to 22-3 on the season and 5-1 in league play. The road series win marked Arkansas' first since May 20-22, 2010, when the Razorbacks took two of three games at Vanderbilt. Mississippi State dropped to 16-9 and 2-4 in league play with the loss.
With the scored tied at three in the top of the 11th, the Razorbacks regained the lead with five runs. Bo Bigham started the rally with a leadoff double to left field and Ficociello followed with a walk. A sacrifice bunt by Matt Reynolds moved runners to second and third with one out. Pinch hitter Joe Serrano then hit a grounder to third. The third baseman's throw home was high, allowing Bigham to score the go-ahead run. A walk to Derrick Bleeker loaded the bases with one out. Jimmy Bosco then doubled to the gap in left-center field to score Serrano and Ficociello. A base hit to right by Jake Wise brought home two more runs. The second run scored after a fielding error by the Mississippi State right fielder.
Mississippi State made things interesting, scoring twice in the bottom of the 11th. Matthew Britton led off the inning with a single. With one out, Sam Frost singled to right field to put runners at first and second. A walk to Trey Porter loaded the bases with one out. Hunter Renfroe then walked to force in a run. Nick Ammirati brought in the second run of the inning with a base hit to left field. The Bulldogs could not get any closer as Cade Lynch got Wes Rea to pop out to short and Demarcus Henderson to fly out to center to end the ball game.
The Arkansas defense recorded just the third triple play in program history in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Bulldogs had runners at first and second with nobody out. On the 3-2 pitch, the runners were going. Adam Frazier hit a liner right at Ficociello, who caught the liner, stepped on first for the second out and then threw to Carver at short to complete the triple play. Before Sunday's game, Arkansas' last triple play was against Auburn in the 1998 SEC Tournament. Arkansas also turned a triple play in the 1983 Southwest Conference Tournament against Texas.
Arkansas recorded 15 hits in the win with six different Razorback batters turning in multiple-hit performances. Tim Carver had a team-high three hits with a run scored. Bleeker, Bosco, Ficociello, Jacob Morris and Wise each added two hits in the victory. Bosco drove in a team-high three runs, while Bleeker, Ficociello and Wise each had one RBI.
Frost was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate to lead the Bulldogs. Renfroe and Ammirati each added a hit and a RBI in the loss.
Arkansas reliever Colby Suggs earned the win to improve to 2-0. Suggs tossed a scoreless bottom half of the 10th inning with two strikeouts. Cade Lynch earned his second save of the season, throwing the final two thirds of an inning.
Mississippi State reliever Caleb Reed took the loss to drop to 0-4 on the year. Reed allowed three runs on five hits in 4.2 innings.
Each starter received a no decision in the game. Randall Fant went one-plus inning, giving up two runs on two hits. Mississippi State starter Kendall Graveman surrendered two runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings.
Nolan Sanburn, Brandon Moore and Barrett Astin each pitched well in relief for Arkansas. Sanburn pitched two scoreless innings, while Moore worked three shutout innings. Astin also pitched three innings, allowing a run and striking out three.
Mississippi State struck first, scoring twice in the bottom of the second. Mitch Slauter and Rea started the inning with back-to-back singles. Henderson then laid down a bunt, which Fant attempted to field and throw to third, but Slauter beat the throw to third. Brayden Jones was hit by a pitch to bring in the first run. Britton then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to score Rea and put the Bulldogs in front 2-0.
Arkansas had its first scoring chance of the game in the top of the fourth. Ficociello led off the inning with a single and Reynolds reached on a fielding error by the second baseman. With one out, Bleeker lined a single to right to load the bases. MSU got out of the inning without allowing a run as Bosco grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
The Bulldogs appeared on the verge of a big inning in the bottom of the fourth, but a triple play by the Arkansas defense got the Razorbacks out of the jam. With runners at first and second and nobody out, the Bulldog base runners ran on the 3-2 pitch. Frazier hit a liner right at Ficociello, who caught the liner, stepped on first for the second out and then threw to Carver at second to complete the triple play.
Arkansas tied the game with two runs in the top of the sixth. Reynolds got the rally started with a one-out single and moved to second after a walk to Bates. Bleeker then singled to center to score Reynolds for the Razorbacks' first run. Bosco followed with a base hit to right to bring home Bates and tie the game.
The Razorbacks took their first lead of the game with a run in the top of the seventh. Carver led off the inning with a double and then moved to third after a ground out by Mahan. Ficociello then hit a fly ball to center field that was misjudged by the center fielder and fell in front of him for a double. Carver scored on the play to put Arkansas in front.
Mississippi State had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth, but came up empty. Frost led off the inning with a single and then moved to second after a one-out walk by Renfroe. A fly out to center by Slauter advanced Frost to third. A walk to Rea loaded the bases with two out. Astin got Henderson to ground into a fielder's choice to short to end the inning and keep Arkansas in front.
The Bulldogs tied the game with a run in the bottom of the ninth. With two out, Frazier and Frost hit back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners. Porter then hit a grounder to short, which looked like it would end the game, but Frost beat the throw to 2nd, allowing Frazier to score the tying run and sending the game into extra innings.
Arkansas continues its road trip next weekend in Baton Rouge, La., against No. 11 LSU. Game times are set for 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. All three games of the series will be televised with Friday's game on CSS and CST, Saturday's game on ESPNU and Sunday's game on CST.