Ninth-Inning Nightmare Dooms Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE -- Mississippi State rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to upset Arkansas 5-3 in front of 6,962 chilly fans Friday in Baum Stadium.

The No. 8 Razorbacks watched a 3-1 lead disappear when wild pitches, infield singles and free passes in the final inning led to the No. 24 Bulldogs' fifth straight victory.

It all culminated with Jeffrey Rea's double inside the third- base line which proved to be the game winner as Arkansas' last at-bat rally came up 180-feet short.

"We were fortunate," Polk said. "We got a couple of chink hits and they made a couple of wild pitches. We took advantage of some opportunities, but there is some luck involved in this game and after we hit some line drives right at people, we finally got that last one through."

The Hogs must rebound quickly as they play the second of the three-game series against MSU at 3:05 p.m. today.

"I think we'll get over this in about an hour or two," said Arkansas right fielder Craig Gentry minutes after the game. "That's about as long as it'll take to get it out of our system."

Arkansas' Charley Boyce absorbed the loss, his third. He pitched the final two innings and gave up four runs on three hits thanks to a walk, a hit batsman and a pair of wild pitches in the ninth, along with a throwing error by Scott Bridges.

"We get a ground ball in the hole where we think Bridges is going to make the play and he slips," Van Horn said. "So instead of two out with one on, they've got two on and one out.

"And then it keeps looking like Charley is going to get the ground ball to end the game and it just never happened."

Boyce made a good pitch on Rea, who used an inside-out swing to slice the game winner down the left-field line.

"(Rea) just got his hands inside the ball and did a nice job with it," Van Horn said.

In the bottom of the ninth, Gentry reached on a leadoff walk and, two outs later, a double by Casey Rowlett put the tying run at second -- 180-feet away from home plate. Jake Dugger then worked a full-count walk to load the bases, but MSU reliever Brett Cleveland got Hogs clean-up hitter Danny Hamblin to ground out to short to end the game.

"We rallied, we didn't quit," Van Horn said. "I got to give our guys credit, we're one big hit away from winning the game or tying it and that's just the way this game works sometimes."

With the outfield shaded to right field, Rowlett roped a double down the left-field line to score Gentry and Clint Arnold, who both reached on singles. It gave the Razorback a 2-0 lead in the third inning.

Mississippi State's Jeff Butts cut the lead in half with a solo homer to right to lead off the fifth inning. It was the one mistake Hogs starter Nick Schmidt made in seven innings of work as he allowed 4 hits, struck out 4 and walked 2 to lower his ERA to 2.04.

"Schimdt's a freshman, but he has a lot of poise," Polk said. "For him to put up two back-to-back performances (He allowed one run in seven innings to beat South Carolina 9-1 last week) like he has and only being a freshman, they've got somebody they can really rely on."

Dugger walked and scored on a two-out single up the middle in the eighth by Scott Hode to give the Razorbacks some cushion with a 3-1 advantage heading into the final inning.

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