Welcome to Friday night, Drew Smyly.
Expected to be the Arkansas ace in the preseason, the left-hander made his first series opening start Friday night, pitching seven strong innings in an 8-3 Razorback win at Mississippi State.
The Little Rock Central product showed no signs of nerves out of the gate. Smyly retired the first nine batters he faced before a Nick Vickerson solo home run tied the game 1-1 in the fourth inning. He finished giving up just five hits and striking out four batters. Walk-prone throughout the early season, Smyly walked just two batters.
Smyly (4-0) got the start after Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn designated then-starter Mike Bolsinger to the bullpen earlier in the week. Bolsinger pitched two scoreless innings in relief against the Bulldogs in a non-save situation.
The No. 10 Razorbacks (24-6, 7-3 SEC) backed up their pitchers with plenty of run support.
Arkansas scored three runs with two outs in the sixth inning to break out of a 1-1 tie and extended the lead to 7-2 on Zack Cox' two-out, two-run home run in the seventh.
Cox finished the game 2-for-3, drawing two walks and scoring three runs. The sophomore, who had a 24-game hitting streak to begin the year, has reached base safely in all 30 games this season.
Brett Eibner gave Arkansas the lead for good with a two-run double in the top of the sixth inning and scored one batter later on a Monk Kreder RBI double to make it 4-1 in favor of the Razorbacks.
Mississippi State (16-14, 3-7) pulled within 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Luke Adkins sharply hit a ball into right field to score Sam Frost, but Adkins was thrown out at third base trying to leg out a triple.
That swung the momentum back in Arkansas' favor and the Hogs took advantage in the seventh. Bo Bigham hit into an RBI fielder's choice to score James McCann and scored one batter later on Cox' sixth home run of the season.
The two teams traded runs late in the game. Pitching out of the bullpen for the second time this season, Bolsinger allowed just one hit in two innings of work, striking out one batter.
Arkansas will look to win the series when they meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. Eibner will take the mound for the Razorbacks while Mississippi State will start freshman right-hander Chris Stratton.
Arkansas 8, Mississippi State 3
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