The Razorbacks have already clinched the series, but they still have plenty to play for in Game 3 of the Arkansas vs Mississippi State series.
With a win on Sunday, Arkansas would finish off a rare SEC road sweep and help itself in what is shaping up to be a very tight SEC race. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT and the game will be streamed on SEC Network-Plus.
Since 2016, the Razorbacks have only one 3-0 weekend on the road in SEC play and that actually came on their last trip to Dudy Noble Field two years ago. Prior to that, their last road sweep was at Alabama in 2015. Coming into this weekend, there had been only five road sweeps in 49 SEC series and Arkansas is the only team with a chance to pull it off this weekend.
More importantly, a win in Game 3 would further help the Razorbacks’ bid to win the SEC West and SEC overall regular-season titles. Even if LSU beats Auburn in its rubber match (1 p.m. CT, SECN+), the Tigers would own just a half-game lead in both races if Arkansas also wins.
If LSU loses and Arkansas wins, the Razorbacks would take over first place in the West and move into a tie with Vanderbilt, which has already lost 2 of 3 at Alabama, for first place in the overall standings.
On the other end of the spectrum, Mississippi State is fighting for just a bid to the SEC Tournament. A loss in Game 3 would move the Bulldogs into a tie with rival Ole Miss for dead last in the conference, which would mean neither of the last two national champions make it to Hoover. A win would keep them a game ahead of the Rebels while moving them into a tie with Missouri for the 12th and final spot in the SEC Tournament.
As always, Best of Arkansas Sports will be tracking the game and providing live, inning-by-inning updates from Game 3 of the Arkansas vs Mississippi State series below…
LIVE UPDATES — Arkansas vs Mississippi State
Pregame Tidbits (Game 3)
Given a few extra days of rest, left-hander Hunter Hollan will start Game 3 for Arkansas baseball. He has been dealing with a leg injury that Dave Van Horn has described as shin splints, which has caused him to struggle in his last two outings.
The only change to the Razorbacks’ starting lineup is in left field, as Jayson Jones is getting the nod. It’s an interesting move because he is an infielder and hasn’t played outfield since coming to Arkansas.
Mississippi State is starting freshman Jurrangelo Cijntje, who is unique because he pitches with both arms. However, he has struggled this year, posting a 10.25 ERA and 1.95 WHIP in 26 1/3 innings across seven SEC starts.
T-1st: Mississippi State 0, Arkansas 0
Diggs worked the count full and drew a leadoff walk, reaching to start the game for the third time this weekend. Bohrofen followed with a strikeout, freezing on a breaking ball for strike three. McLaughlin then singled up the middle to put runners on first and second. Slavens popped out in the infield, caught by the second baseman, and then Cali struck out to end the inning. It was a 19-pitch inning for Cijntje.
B-1st: Mississippi State 0, Arkansas 0
Mershon came up swinging and grounded out to short on Hollan’s first pitch. Ledbetter looked at strike three for the second out. Then Hines also swung at the first pitch, popping out to second to end the inning. Hollan threw only seven pitches.
T-2nd: Mississippi State 0, Arkansas 0
Jones grounded out to first on the first pitch he saw. Holt worked the count full, but met a similar fate, grounding out to second. Rowland thought he checked his swing on what would have been ball four and took off toward first, but an appeal revealed he went around for a strike. In a full count, he ended up grounding out to first. It was a 14-pitch inning by Cijntje, who is up to 33 through two innings.
B-2nd: Mississippi State 0, Arkansas 0
Jordan grounded out to third to start the home half of the second, but Clark followed with a blooper that found grass in left. Larry hit a grounder to short and Arkansas nearly turned an incredible double play, but Larry beat the throw at first. Instead, it was just a force at second. The Razorbacks had Larry picked off, but Slavens’ throw to second was high and Larry slid in under the tag for the stolen base. It didn’t matter, though, because Hollan struck out Hancock a couple pitches later. He’s up to 19 pitches through two innings.
T-3rd: Arkansas 3, Mississippi State 0
Bolton turned on the first pitch he saw, but it was a line out to left. Diggs then struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt. With two outs, Bohrofen was plunked. He then stole second and scored on McLaughlin’s RBI single on the next pitch. Slavens then crushed a two-run homer to right, making it 3-0. Cali grounded out to second to end the inning.
B-3rd: Arkansas 3, Mississippi State 3
Cali made a really nice play to field a grounder by Chester and throw him out at first. Highfill then struck out looking. With two outs, Hollan thought he had strike three and even started walking to the dugout, but the 3-2 pitch was called a ball and Mershon reached via a walk. He then stole second and moved to third on a balk. Ledbetter also walked, putting runners on the corners and prompting a mound visit from Matt Hobbs.
Yet another balk brought in Mississippi State’s first run and then Hollan gave up a two-run bomb to Hines that tied the game. Jordan flied out to right to end the inning. Hollan is up to 45 pitches.
T-4th: Arkansas 6, Mississippi State 3
Jones struck out to start the inning, but Holt was hit by a pitch and Rowland walked. Bolton hit a grounder to third and Mississippi State got the lead out, but couldn’t turn two. After a first-pitch ball to Diggs, the Bulldogs decided to pull Cijntje and turn to their bullpen.
The new pitcher for Mississippi State is left-hander Cole Cheatham, who threw 43 pitches in Friday’s game. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, and then Diggs walked to load the bases. Bohrofen looked at back-to-back breaking balls for strikes and then, on a third one, ripped it into the right field corner for a double. It cleared the bases, with Diggs sliding in for the third run despite the throw getting there in plenty of time. It was reviewed, but stood as called. Cheatham walked McLaughlin and that’s it for him.
The new pitcher for Mississippi State is right-hander Nate Dohm. He struck out Slavens to end the inning.
B-4th: Arkansas 6, Mississippi State 4
Clark led off the inning with a single and then Larry hit a grounder to third. Arkansas got the lead runner at second, but couldn’t quite turn what would have been a really tough double play, allowing Larry to reach on a fielder’s choice. He then stole second. Hancock hit a pop up in the infield and Slavens ran in to catch it despite Hollan calling for it. With two outs, Chester hit a double to left-center to get one of those runs back. Highfill walked and that’s it for Hollan.
The new pitcher for Arkansas is right-hander Cody Adcock, who enters with the tying runs on base. He got Mershon to ground out to short to end the inning.
T-5th: Arkansas 11, Mississippi State 4
Cali looked at strike three to start the inning. Then Jones was plunked, with Dohm’s pitch hitting him in the helmet. He was able to to walk off under his own power, but was removed likely for precautionary reasons. Mason Neville entered as a pinch runner.
Holt hit a chopper up the middle, but the shortstop booted it. He reached on the E6, putting runners on first and second. Dohm bounced back to strike out Rowland, but then walked Bolton to load the bases. Diggs made him pay by launching a grand slam to make it 10-4. That prompts another pitching change.
The new pitcher for Mississippi State is right-hander KC Hunt. He promptly gave up a solo home run to Jace Bohrofen, who hit it to dead center. McLaughlin walked and then Slavens hit a sharp grounder to left-center for a double. With runners on second and third, Cali flied out to center to end the inning.
B-5th: Arkansas 11, Mississippi State 4
For the first time since the first inning, the Bulldogs went down in order in the fifth. Ledbetter popped out to third in foul territory, Hines hit a grounder to first that Adcock actually fielded and took to the base himself, and then Jordan grounded out to short, with Bolton making a strong throw to first.
T-6th: Arkansas 11, Mississippi State 4
In his first at bat of the day, Neville went down swinging. Holt followed with a ground out to third. Rowland grounded out to second to end the inning.
B-6th: Arkansas 11, Mississippi State 6
Clark led off the home half of the sixth with his third hit of the game and then Larry hit a home run to left to pull the Bulldogs back within five. Hancock followed with a walk. That’s it for Adcock.
The new pitcher for Arkansas is left-hander Zack Morris. He got Chester to hit a grounder to third and Arkansas got the lead runner at second, but didn’t quite have enough time to turn two. Highfill followed with a grounder to the right side and this time the Razorbacks did turn it, with Holt fielding it and throwing to Bolton, who fired to first to end the inning.
T-7th: Arkansas 11, Mississippi State 6
After a ground out back to the pitcher by Bolton, Diggs followed with a single – his second hit and fourth time reaching in the game. However, Bohrofen grounded into a 6-3 double play to end the inning.
B-7th: Arkansas 11, Mississippi State 6
Bolton made another great play at short to give Mershon his third ground out of the game. Ledbetter followed by grounding into the shift, as Holt was positioned perfectly. Morris then struck out Hines to end the inning.
T-8th: Arkansas 11, Mississippi State 6
McLaughlin blooped a single to left-center for his third hit of the game to start the inning. He has reached all five times today. Hunter Grimes pinch ran for him and was thrown out in a strike ’em out, throw ’em out with Slavens. Cali then lined out to right on the first pitch he saw to end the inning.
B-8th: Arkansas 11, Mississippi State 6
Jordan grounded out back to Morris to start the home half of the eighth. Clark worked the count full before striking out, marking the first time Arkansas had retired him today. In a 1-2 count, Larry was hit by a pitch. It’s the first time the Bulldogs have reached against Morris, who had retired seven straight to start his outing. That prompted a visit from Matt Hobbs.
Arkansas looked like it’d get out of the inning on a grounder by Hancock, but Slavens wasn’t able to pick the low throw by Slavens. It’s ruled an E6 and put runners on the corners. Morris then walked pinch hitter Aaron Downs to load the bases. Facing another pinch hitter, this time Connor Hujsak, Morris got out of the jam with a line out to left.
T-9th: Arkansas 11, Mississippi State 6
Right-hander Aaron Nixon is now pitching for Mississippi State. He struck out Neville to start his outing. Holt then grounded out to short. Rowland popped out to third in foul territory to end the inning.
B-9th: Arkansas 11, Mississippi State 6
Freshman left-hander Parker Coil is in the game to try to close out the win for Arkansas. Mershon grounded out to second for the first out. Ledbetter followed with a first-pitch ground out to second for out No. 2. Hines then grounded out to second, as well, to end the inning. Arkansas sweeps Mississippi State.
FINAL: Arkansas 11, Mississippi State 6
BOX SCORE – Arkansas vs Mississippi State
Starting Lineups – Arkansas vs Mississippi State
|Mississippi State Baseball||Arkansas Baseball|
|1. David Mershon – SS||1. Kendall Diggs – RF|
|2. Colton Ledbetter – CF||2. Jace Bohrofen – CF|
|3. Hunter Hines – DH||3. Ben McLaughlin – DH|
|4. Dakota Jordan – LF||4. Brady Slavens – 1B|
|5. Kellum Clark – RF||5. Caleb Cali – 3B|
|6. Amani Larry – 2B||6. Jayson Jones – LF|
|7. Luke Hancock – 1B||7. Peyton Holt – 2B|
|8. Nate Chester – 3B||8. Parker Rowland – C|
|9. Ross Highfill – C||9. John Bolton – SS|
|Pitching: Fr. BHP Jurrangelo Cijntje||Pitching: Jr. LHP Hunter Hollan|
Baseball Schedule This Week
Tuesday — Lipscomb 8, Arkansas 6 (11 innings)
Friday — Arkansas 6, Mississippi State 2
Saturday — Arkansas 14, Mississippi State 2 (7 innings)
Sunday — at Mississippi State — 1 p.m. CT (SECN+)
Accountability Check — 2023 Arkansas Baseball Predictions
Best of Arkansas Sports managing editor Andrew Hutchinson published his week-by-week predictions for the 2023 season just before the Razorbacks opened the year at the College Baseball Showdown. Those predictions can be read in full here, but we’ll also be doing weekly “accountability checks” in this space.
Prediction: 1-0 in the midweek / 34-12 overall, 13-8 in SEC play
The annual game at Dickey-Stephens Park is against Lipscomb this year. On paper, this should be a win for the Razorbacks. However, they’d traditionally played really tight games down there, even against bad teams. Lipscomb is decent — picked fourth in the 14-team ASUN — so this one will go down to the wire, but Arkansas avoids the upset.
Actual: 0-1 in the midweek / 33-12 overall, 14-7 in SEC play
We correctly predicted the game would go down to the wire, but we never could have expected the game to go 11 innings. Given all of the injuries, it’s not surprising Arkansas lost the game, especially considering how the Razorbacks have always struggled down there.
Composite College Baseball Top 25
Unlike football and basketball, which have just the AP and Coaches Polls all year (with football adding the CFP rankings late in the season), college baseball has five major polls. (Collegiate Baseball used to be included, but it was dropped to due severe inconsistencies in its rankings.)
To get a better feel for how teams stack up, BoAS has combined those rankings into a single top 25 by using a points system in which a No. 1 ranking = 25 points, No. 2 = 24 points and all the way to No. 25 = 1 point. We will update this each week throughout the season…
|2. Wake Forest||ACC||—||120|
|3. South Carolina||SEC||—||112|
|t-7. Coastal Carolina||Sun Belt||-1||92|
|t-10. Miami (Fla.)||ACC||+7||68|
|t-10. UConn||Big East||+5||68|
|12. Campbell||Big South||-4||66|
|13. West Virginia||Big 12||+8||63|
|t-14. Dallas Baptist||CUSA||+2||60|
|t-14. East Carolina||AAC||-2||60|
|19. Boston College||ACC||-8||32|
|20. Oregon State||Pac-12||+6||30|
|21. Arizona State||Pac-12||-3||23|
|22. Texas Tech||Big 12||-9||15|
|25. Oklahoma State||Big 12||—||9|
MOVED IN: Oregon State (20), UTSA (24)
MOVED OUT: Louisville (23), Indiana (24)
- SEC: 7
- ACC: 5
- Pac-12: 4
- Big 12: 3
- C-USA: 2
- AAC: 1
- Big East: 1
- Big South: 1
- Sun Belt: 1
More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…