STARKVILLE, Miss. - A season-opening 19-game homestand full of great moments ended with a dismal one for the Mississippi State baseball team.
After winning their first 17 games of the season, the third-ranked Bulldogs dropped a second straight, falling 7-3 to Central Arkansas Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
"We just didn't play well," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "In the last couple of days, we kind of lost our identity. We thought we could just show up and make some things happen. Central Arkansas came in here with a great game plan and did a great job of executing.
"We lost twice to a good team. We will get better from here."
MSU pitching walked two and hit five. The Bulldogs also did not aid their cause by making two critical errors.
Central Arkansas (14-2) grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in the second inning thanks to an RBI-double by Blake Marchal and an RBI-single from Doug Votolato.
MSU answered right back with two runs of its own in the second inning. The Bulldogs started things with a leadoff double by Hunter Renfroe and an RBI-single by Mitch Slauter. After two outs were recorded, Trey Porter lined an RBI-single to plate Slauter.
That uprising would be on the only major scare against Central Arkansas pitcher Bryce Biggerstaff. The junior right-hander threw a 109-pitch complete game. Biggerstaff (2-0) allowed eight hits and three earned runs (all earned), with three strikeouts and one walk.
The Bears grabbed the lead for good with two runs in the fourth inning. UCA only managed one hit in that at-bat. The Bears then struck for three runs off Jonathan Holder in relief in the ninth inning.
For MSU, Renfroe hit his fourth home run of the year in the home half of the ninth inning.
"They were crowding the plate and finding a way to get on," Cohen said. "They did some of the things that we would like to do. Sometimes, you lose your identity. Sometimes you have to force the issue. They did a great job of getting more base runners than we did throughout the weekend."
For MSU, Kendall Graveman (1-1) took the loss. Graveman allowed five hits and four runs (three earned) in 5.2 innings of work. Graveman struck out seven, walked one and hit three. Chad Girodo and Myles Gentry followed Graveman to the mound, before Holder was touched for two hits and three earned runs in the ninth inning.
Michael Marietta had three of UCA's eight hits, while Forrestt Allday also had multiple hits. Renfroe finished with two of MSU's eight hits.
MSU plays away from home for the first time this season Tuesday night. The Bulldogs face Southern Mississippi at 6:30 at Trustmark Park in Pearl. Southeastern Conference play begins this weekend when LSU comes to Dudy Noble Field.