Mississippi State 5, Arkansas 3

In the opening of a three-game SEC series in Fayetteville this weekend, Mississippi State jumps on Charley Boyce for four ninth-inning runs to down Arkansas 5-3 before 6,982 fans at Baum Stadium.

It turned out that one of the University of Arkansas' best former starters was not ready to be the closer.

Mississippi State battered Charley Boyce - filling in that role for the injured Trey Holloway - for four runs in the top of the ninth to rally for a 5-3 win over the Razorbacks before 6,982 fans at Baum Stadium on Friday night.

Boyce (3-3) threw a whopping 34 pitches in the n ninth frame with the big hit being Jeffrey Rhea's bases-loaded single that scored a pair and put his team up 4-3.

Another wild pitch pushed it to 5-3, but the Razorbacks did put up a fight in the ninth.

Craig Gentry led off with a walk and after Scott Bridges almost tied it on a deep drive to left, Casey Rowlett doubled to put the tying run in scoring position.

Jake Dugger then got his fourth walk of the night on a 3-2 hit to load the bases - a call that got MSU coach Ron Polk tossed by home plate umpire Scott Erby for arguing balls and strikes.

Mississippi State reliever Brett Cleveland then got out of the jam by retiring Danny Hamblin on a fielder's choice.

Freshman Nick Schmidt had pitched seven sparkling innings and left with Arkansas ahead 2-1.

Scott Hode's RBI single in the bottom of the eighth added an insurance run to put his team up 3-1 before the meltdown in the top of the ninth.

Schmidt - bidding to be 5-0 - worked seven innings, giving up one earned run on four hits, fanning four, walking two and lowering his ERA from 2.20 to 2.04.

Boyce relieved to start the eight, gave up a leadoff single to Jeff Butts but left him at third.

Arkansas - who had 10 hits to their foes' 8 - got going after Schmidt worked out of a bases loaded situation in the top of the third.

Gentry singled with one out and then raced to third when he and Clint Arnold (three hits) perfectly executed a hit-and-run.

Mississippi State starter Alan Johnson recorded an out on Bridges' safety squeeze, but Rowlett than came through with his big two-out hit to plate both Gentry and Arnold for a 2-0 lead.

It gave Rowlett a career-high 24 RBIs, two more than he had the entire 2004 season, and also extended his hitting streak to 21 games.

Butts' cut that in half in the fifth when he powered a home run over the fence it left center to cut it to 2-1.

The Razorbacks had a chance to increase their lead in the bottom of that frame when Arnold and Bridges executed another hit-and-run to put runners at the corners.

After Bridges stole his 20th base of the season to move up to second, Johnson struck out Rowlett to end the threat.

Dugger got a leadoff single in the sixth, moved up to second on a bunt and to third as Clay Goodwin legged out an infield hit.

But Anderson worked his way out of it again when he got Scott Hode to ground out to short.

Arnold's one-one single in the bottom of the seventh finished Johnson, but reliver Brett Cleveland shut the door.

The two teams will continue the series Saturday afternoon at 3:05 p.m. with finale set for Sunday at 1:05 p.m.


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