STARKVILLE, Miss. – Junior left-handed pitcher Ross Mitchell threw his second complete game in three weekends as No. 13 Mississippi State knocked off Arkansas 5-1 in the second game of a Southeastern Conference baseball doubleheader Saturday night at Dudy Noble Field.
Arkansas handed MSU its first shut out of the season with a 4-0 victory in the opener.
Entering Sunday’s rubber match, MSU is now 19-10 overall and 5-3 in conference play, while Arkansas is 17-9 and 4-4. The Bulldogs will be bidding to win their first weekend series from the Razorbacks since the 2008 season.
“Ross really deserved to be a winner out there today,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “He kept the ball down and got ground ball outs. Entering the ninth inning, he had only allowed two hits – a ball that sliced over the second baseman’s head and a routine play in which he failed to cover the bag. So it could have been a no-hitter going into the ninth inning.”
Mitchell (5-1) drew a start for a third straight conference series. Fresh off the heels of wins over Vanderbilt and Georgia, Mitchell needed only 98 pitches to throw the team’s second complete game of the season. Mitchell allowed four total hits, with two strikeouts and no walks.
MSU snapped a string of 14 scoreless innings in the doubleheader by scoring four times in the sixth inning to take a 4-1 lead.
Jake Vickerson began the inning with a base hit. After a groundout, Wes Rea followed with a game-tying RBI-single. Another out followed before a base hit by Seth Heck put runners on the corners. Derrick Armstrong followed with a go-ahead RBI-single.
Armstrong had a monster day, collecting six of the Bulldogs’ 20 hits with three in each game.
Catcher Zack Randolph followed with a two-run single. An RBI-single by Alex Detz capped the MSU scoring an inning later.
“We really hit some balls hard in the second game,” Cohen said. “In the first game, I thought we were attacking it a little too much. Arkansas is a great defensive team. They play the field really well. Our number of quality at-bats and hard-hit balls really went up in the second game.
“That is a credit to the kids for not getting discouraged and continuing to work hard at it.”
Brett Pirtle also had multiple hits for the Bulldogs.
In the opener, Arkansas pitcher Jalen Beeks scattered nine hits over eight innings of work as the Razorbacks won 4-0.
MSU collected 10 total base hits in the game but a double by Gavin Collins in the ninth inning was the squad’s lone extra-base hit.
Armstrong finished with three hits, while Pirtle added two hits.
Preston Brown (3-1) drew his second straight conference start for the Bulldogs. The sophomore right-hander allowed seven hits and four runs (all earned) in five innings of work. Ben Bracewell threw four innings of shutout relief for the Bulldogs.
Sunday’s pitching matchup pairs MSU junior right-hander Trevor Fitts (2-1, 3.13 ERA) against Arkansas junior right-hander Chris Oliver (2-2, 1.74).