Arkansas stranded eight in scoring position -- nine for the game -- as Missouri State snapped a 10-game losing streak in the series with a 2-0 victory Tuesday night before 2,872 at Baum Stadium.
The Hogs (14-14) left the bases loaded in the sixth and came up empty after putting two in scoring position in the fifth and eighth. Rick Nomura went down swinging twice, leaving five on base. Joe Serrano had a fly out to the warning track in right center to strand another pair.
It left Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn bemoaning a solid pitching performance by James Teague, Keaton McKinney, Jackson Lowery and Lance Phillips that got no support. It's a turnaround from earlier this year when the Hogs were hitting, but giving up too much on the mound or struggling with defense.
"I don't like it at all," Van Horn said. "We let the game get away from us. We've done that before. Our pitching has come along, but we left runners in scoring position again.
"We were in position to score some runs tonight. We probably should have had maybe two or even three and that would have been enough the way we pitched. Three could have won the game.
"We had one situation where we had the bases loaded and we went after pitches out of the strike zone and then other times when we hit it hard right at them."
Missouri State (18-7) made hay against an Arkansas foe for the sixth time this season. They have also beat Arkansas State twice, UALR twice and Arkansas State once. UCA did win one of three against the Bears.
"They pitched well," Van Horn said. "But there were a lot of times when we had runners on and didn't even put the ball in play. We've got some young players that are learning."
Missouri State stranded 10, but plated two in the fifth for the game's only runs. Two singles, a hit batsman and a walk did the damage. The Bears scored on a sacrifice fly and a bases loaded walk. James Teague was charged with both runs, but reliever Keaton McKinney was on the mound when both runs scored.
Andrew Benintendi led the UA offense with two hits, including a double. Tyler Spoon also cracked a double.
The Hogs are in unfamiliar territory with a .500 record. Van Horn knows the clock is ticking on their run of postseason bids.
"We've got some games left," he said. "Enough games. But we are running out of time. We have some good RPI games left against ranked teams in our league. We can still get there, but we are in position now where we need some sweeps in conference. We've got to beat some good RPI teams.
"It's frustrating for our whole (coaching) staff. It's something we have not faced. But we have to keep fighting, keep hoping the players figure it out and turn it around. We are staying positive and encouraging them."
But right now, Van Horn knows the Hogs need some time to practice before starting a three-game series at Auburn on Friday. They've had two stretches of games on five straight days. And, there is a bug going around the team.
"We had our team picture today and we had some guys that were sick and not even here," he said. "We had some others that we sent home right after the picture. Brett McAfee was supposed to be in the lineup and he came in sick. There's been a lot of that, but the good thing is that it seems to be two days and gone.
"Right now, we need a couple of days of practice. We don't have any pitching now to play a game. We need to rest some guys."
Trey Killian fought through the bug to pitch on Friday of last week, but Van Horn said the junior ace is good to go on Friday to open the Auburn series.
"He is OK, I think," Van Horn said. "He was in the dugout charting pitches. And I think he's OK."
Outfielder Tyler Spoon said the Hogs know they can play better and don't think they are out of postseason contention.
"It's been a crazy stretch," Spoon said. "We have been getting positive words from our coaches. We know to keep fighting. We don't ever give up. We keep telling the guys in the locker room that we are going to make a regional. We believe that. But we need to win some games.
"It's hard to believe we are where we are at. Me and Joe (Serrano) have seen some unreal players here and we know we have to get it going. We are putting it all out there on the field, but it's frustrating right now."
Van Horn said he still doesn't have a time table for the return of junior college transfer Max Hogan, a contact hitter on the shelf with concussion symptoms.
"We'd like to play him because he does make contact from the left side," Van Horn said. "We are still not sure when he can come back. Right now, with the sickness and that, we don't have a lot of options."
Missouri State 2, Arkansas 0
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