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Arkansas 9, Mississippi State 2

Arkansas is heading to the SEC Tournament semifinals.

Arkansas' bats exploded against a depleted Mississippi State pitching staff in the sixth inning Friday night in Hoover, Ala.

The Razorbacks sent 10 batters to the plate during the frame and scored six runs en route to a 9-2 win over the Bulldogs in an SEC Tournament elimination game. The victory sends Arkansas to the semifinals, where it will face 1-seed Florida in the single-elimination portion of the tournament.

Dominic Fletcher's leadoff home run gave the Razorbacks a 2-1 lead and opened the flood gates.

After Carson Shaddy drew a walk, Arkansas completed the reverse natural team cycle with a triple, double and single by Jax Biggers, Grant Koch and Jared Gates, respectively.

(A "natural cycle" is when a player - or team - hits a single, double, triple and home run in that order.)

The hits by Biggers and Koch resulted in RBIs. The other three runs came on a squeeze bunt by Jake Arledge, RBI single by Eric Cole and sacrifice fly by Luke Bonfield.

Included in that inning was a double by Chad Spanberger, who went 2 for 3. Both of his hits were doubles and he also walked twice. Before striking out in his final at bat, Spanberger had a stretch of nine plate appearances dating back to Thursday in which he hit three home runs, two doubles and walked three times.

Biggers' triple was his third in Arkansas' last two games, breaking an SEC Tournament record. He finished 3 for 5 with three RBIs and a home run shy of the cycle.

That was plenty of run support for Blaine Knight. The sophomore right-hander improved to 8-4 on the season by allowing two runs - only one earned - in 6 2/3 innings. He gave up five hits and one walk while striking out nine.

Knight's lone earned run was a leadoff home run by Cody Brown in the seventh inning. He put two more runners on base - one of which reached on an error - before being relieved by Jake Reindl, who retired all seven batters he faced to close out the game.

Arkansas will play top-seed Florida for the first time this season in the SEC Tournament semifinals Saturday afternoon. The game will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the LSU-South Carolina game, which starts at noon. That means first pitch will be around 3:30 p.m.

It will be televised on the SEC Network.


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