Arkansas has found the winning recipe -- pitching and solid defense. It worked again Tuesday night in Springfield, Mo.
Freshman pitcher Ryne Stanek, a Kansas City product, turned in the best start of his collegiate career, throwing seven strong innings, and the Arkansas offense rallied late for the third straight game, scoring twice in the eighth inning, as the 25th-ranked Razorbacks defeated Missouri State, 2-1.
"I thought it was a very well played game," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "Defensively, I thought we did a great job. I thought both teams pitched extremely well.
"I was really proud of (Ryne) Stanek. That was by far his best game of the year. He did a good job of pitching tonight. He threw his breaking ball for a strike. He used a lot of changeups and that's a pitch that he's just learning how to use. That was one of the bright spots, along with Jake Wise. He went 3-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt. He did a tremendous job."
Arkansas improves to 24-8 on the season, tying its longest winning streak of the year with six straight victories. The Razorbacks have now won eight straight games against the Bears. Missouri State drops to 19-12 with the loss.
Trailing 1-0 entering the top of the eighth, Arkansas put together a two-run rally to take the lead for good. Kyle Atkins was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to second on a single by Bo Bigham. Matt Reynolds laid down a sacrifice bunt to the mound, but the pitcher's throw to first was wild, allowing Atkins to score the tying run, moving Bigham to third and advancing Reynolds to reach second. After a strikeout of Dominic Ficociello, Sam Bates hit a sacrifice fly to left-center, scoring Bigham to put the Razorbacks in front 2-1.
Missouri State was unable to bring the tying run home over the final two innings as Trent Daniel and Nolan Sanburn each threw a hitless inning of relief as Arkansas held on for a 2-1 win. The Bears put the leadoff man on base with a walk against Daniel in the eighth, but Daniel and Sanburn retired the next six.
Making his seventh start of the season, Stanek was excellent on the mound, earning his second win of the season. Stanek tossed a season-long seven innings and gave up just a run on six hits, while tying a season-high with six strikeouts.
Sanburn picked up his sixth save of the season, striking out a batter in a perfect ninth inning. Daniel recorded his second hold of the season, not allowing a hit in the eighth inning.
Pierce Johnson took the loss for Missouri State, surrendering just two unearned runs on seven hits with nine strikeouts.
Freshman catcher Jake Wise had the best game of his young collegiate career at the plate, going a perfect 3-for-3 on the night. Bigham extended his hitting streak to 11 games, going 1-for-4 with a run scored. Atkins, Ficociello, Eric Fisher and Jarrod McKinney each added a hit.
Brett Marshall went 2-for-3 to lead Missouri State at the plate, while Spiker Helms drove in the only Bear run of the game and had a hit in four plate appearances.
Missouri State scored the game's first run in the bottom of the third. Derek Mattea singled to left field on the inning's first pitch and then moved to third on a hit-and run single to left field by Marshall. Trey Massenburg then hit a sharp ground ball to Fisher at first base that he fielded and stepped on first for the out. Marshall was able to advance to second on the play, but Mattea held at third. Travis McComack laid down a safety squeeze bunt back to Stanek, but he was able to field and flip to Wise for the out at home plate. The Razorbacks were unable to get out of the inning unscathed however as Helms singled to drive home Marshall for Missouri State's only run.
Arkansas outfielder Collin Kuhn did not play Tuesday night. He missed his second straight game after sustaining a pinched nerve in his neck running for a fly ball in batting practice before Sunday's game.
Arkansas, 6-6 for second in the West, returns to Southeastern Conference play this weekend, hosting Mississippi State. Game times are set for 7 p.m. on Friday, 6:35 p.m. on Saturday and 1:05 p.m. on Sunday. Friday's game will be televised by FSN and SportSouth, while Saturday and Sunday's game will be shown on CST.
Arkansas 2, Missouri State 1
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