Out-manned and out-gunned, the Mississippi State Bulldogs took to the field on Sunday facing Arkansas, the No. 3 team in the nation.
Even with those circumstance, the Bulldogs battled, clawing tooth and nail with the Razorbacks, only to drop a 8-5 decision in 11 innings.
With Sunday’s win, the Razorbacks won the series and improved to 22-3 overall and 5-1 in Southeastern Conference play, while MSU dropped to 16-9 and 2-4.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” said Mississippi State head coach John Cohen. “They don’t ever give up. They don’t ever give in. I really feel like they are doing everything they can to keep us in games and give us a chance to win. It’s just not happening for us right now.”
State took the early 2-0 lead in the second inning when Mitch Slauter and Wes Rea opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Moments later a hit batsman forced in a run and a double play ground ball scored another. Those were the only runs for the Bulldogs until their ninth inning rally.
MSU starter Kendall Graveman was solid once again as he held Arkansas scoreless into the sixth inning. However, in the sixth the Razorbacks struck for a pair of runs, tying the game at 2-2.
Graveman worked 5.1 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, with two walks and a pair of strikeouts.
The Razorbacks took a 3-2 lead in the seventh with Caleb Reed (0-4) on the mound for the Bulldogs, a lead that held until the bottom of the ninth.
“To be honest, I didn’t feel like I had my best stuff,” said Reed who went 4.2 innings allowing three runs on five hits. “I felt like I threw just enough to get by. I’ve thrown too many sliders lately and I think that’s what they were looking for.”
In the bottom of the ninth with two outs, Adam Frazier and Sam Frost came through with back-to-back singles. Trey Porter then reached on a fielder’s choice as Frost was safe at second due to confusion on the part of the Arkansas defense, as a result Frazier scored the tying run.
State had a chance in the 10th when Slauter reached on a walk followed by a sacrifice bunt for slugger Wes Rea. However, State couldn’t get the run across after back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.
The missed opportunity for the Bulldogs loomed large because in the top of the eleventh Arkansas exploded for five runs and an 8-3 lead.
State didn’t go quietly in its final at-bat as it mounted a rally, plating a pair of runs before the game ended with a Demarcus Henderson fly out to right center.
For the game, Frost came through with a 3-for-3 afternoon, each of the hits came trough in crucial situations for the Bulldogs, including the bang-bang play at second that allowed Frazier to score in the ninth.
“I’ve been working real hard just to see ball, hit ball, and not try to do too much,” said Frost. “Coach Cohen has given me a couple of opportunities and I’m trying to make the most of it.”
State scattered 10 hits for the game with Frost being the only multi-hit performer. Arkansas, on the other hand, scored eight runs on 15 hits and used seven pitchers in the game.
MSU returns to the baseball diamond on Tuesday as it host Alcorn State (6-17) at 6:30 p.m.