The comeback kids just keep rolling along.
Trailing 2-1, No. 10 Arkansas scored four runs in the seventh inning Saturday and held on late to down Mississippi State 8-5. The win, coupled with losses by LSU and South Carolina, puts the Razorbacks in a three-way tie atop the Southeastern Conference leaderboard.
Arkansas (25-6, 8-3 SEC) took a 4-2 lead on Monk Kreder's two-run single to plate Zack Cox and Andy Wilkins in the seventh. The Razorbacks had tied the game one batter earlier when Collin Kuhn scored on a Wilkins RBI single.
"We've been coming up with the big hit," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "That's the way our offense was for about the first 20-22 games it seemed, we didn't do anything until the sixth or seventh inning. I can't tell you how many times we've come from behind. So it's not like we were in a situation that we hadn't been in, we felt we can come back. It was 2-1, they had left a lot of runners out there, we had left a few runners out there and we just felt if we could put together an inning."
The Razorbacks added another run in the seventh to take a three-run lead before Mississippi State pulled within 5-3 in the bottom of the inning on a Ross Sneed solo home run.
Arkansas didn't flinch, however, as Kuhn responded with a solo home run on the 11th pitch of his at-bat to leadoff the eighth to give the Hogs a 6-3 lead. It was Kuhn's eighth home run of the season and his fourth in five games. He also extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
The Razorbacks repeatedly loaded the bases with one out in the inning. Arkansas extended the lead to 7-3 when Travis Sample walked to score Brett Eibner and made it 8-3 on a Kreder sacrifice fly to score Wilkins.
Kreder, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games, finished Saturday 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
Mississippi State (16-15, 3-8) made things interesting in the ninth, pulling within 8-5 on a Nick Vickerson two-run home run off Arkansas closer DJ Baxendale.
The freshman Baxendale was effective, though, earning his seventh save of the season by pitching the final 2.1 innings on the mound.
Senior Jeremy Heatley (3-0) earned the win by pitching 1.2 innings in relief of Eibner. The junior right-hander finished the game pitching five innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on seven hits while striking out a season-best 10 batters.
Eibner left in line for the loss, however, before the help from his friends late. He hasn't earned a win on the mound since the second week of the season.
"He gave us what we needed, he just threw too many pitches," Van Horn said. "He struck out 10 but a lot were 2-2, 3-2, 3-2 with foul balls. Even with one guy getting on base he was still throwing 20 an inning. Mississippi State did a good job battling and getting his pitch count up. He didn't know why he was coming out of the game, but we said it was because you threw 106 pitches in five innings and he didn't realize he'd done that.
"They made a run at us and made us use a little more of our bullpen than we wanted."
Arkansas took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning on a Cox RBI single to score James McCann. Cox finished the game 2-for-4 with three runs scored.
Mississippi State battled back in the bottom half of the fifth. After Eibner struck out the first two batters of the inning, the Bulldogs put together a two-out rally. Sneed scored from first on a Connor Powers bloop single to tie the game and Powers scored one batter later on a Jet Butler RBI single to take a 2-1 lead.
Mississippi State freshman starter Chris Stratton went six innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits. Arkansas got to the Bulldog bullpen in the seventh, though, chasing Stratton and two other pitchers.
"I thought most of their pitchers did a pretty good job," Van Horn said. "There was just maybe one pitch or one at-bat we took advantage of a pitch that was elevated. Kreder got the big hit that drove in a couple. And there was a couple of errors that extended some innings. Things are going our way right now, that's just the way this game works. You get on a roll and you better enjoy it while you can because things can turn so quick."
The win was the fifth straight for the Razorbacks and the 12th in the last 13 games. Arkansas will go for the series sweep Sunday with a first pitch scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Freshman left-hander Randall Fant will get the start on the mound for the Razorbacks while Mississippi State has yet to name its starter.
Arkansas 8, Mississippi State 5
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