Dogs and Razorbacks Split Doubleheader

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's Brad Corley hit a walkoff home run as the Bulldogs posted a series-clinching 5-4 win over Arkansas in the first game of a college baseball doubleheader Sunday afternoon. Arkansas bounced back to take a 4-2 victory in eight innings in the nightcap.

With the second game win, Arkansas salvaged the final game of a weekend Southeastern Conference series. The Bulldogs won the opener in the rain-plagued series 3-2 in 10 innings Saturday night. By winning the nightcap, the Razorbacks moved back into a tie for first place in both the overall SEC standings and the Western Division race. The Razorbacks are now 35-18 overall and 17-10 in league play. Fellow Western Division rival Ole Miss is also 17-10 in league play, as is Eastern Division leader Georgia.

Meanwhile, MSU improved to 31-22 overall and 10-17 in conference play. The Bulldogs remain tied for fifth place in the Western Division and 10th place in the overall league race. The Bulldogs trail ninth-place Auburn by one full game and eighth-place Tennessee by two full games. MSU has the tie-breaker against Auburn but does not against Tennessee.

To qualify for the eight-team SEC Tournament, MSU must sweep Alabama in its final conference series. The Bulldogs also must have Florida sweep Tennessee and Auburn lose at least one game in its weekend series with Arkansas.

Arkansas came off the mat to take Sunday's series finale. The Razorbacks forced extra innings thanks to a two-out RBI single by Brett Hagedorn in the seventh inning. That hit tied the teams 2-2 and set the stage for the Razorbacks to push across a pair of runs in the eighth inning, snapping a six-game losing streak against MSU.

"Under the circumstances, that was really a huge win," Arkansas coach Dave van Horn said. "We didn't make a big deal out of it before the game but that was the biggest game of the season. To make next weekend really matter we had to have a win. We left runner after runner after runner on all weekend and finally got some big hits."

In the Arkansas eighth inning, MSU relief pitcher Jon Crosby (1-2) issued a lead-off walk to Casey Rowlett. After a flyout, new MSU pitcher Brett Cleveland was touched for an RBI double by Scott Hode. Brady Toops followed with an RBI single to plate an insurance score for the Razorbacks. Arkansas scored first with a single run in the third inning. MSU's only error in the contest allowed that run to score.

MSU then battled right back with two runs in its half of the third inning. Brad Jones singled to drive both of those runs home. That hit came after Jeffrey Rea drew a lead-off walk and Brad Corley doubled.

For Corley, it was a monster day, as the sophomore right fielder finished with seven hits in eight at-bats.

Caton Hall (5-1) pitched a 2 1/3 innings of shutout relief to garner the win. Jay Sawatski started, while Ryan Lennerton threw in relief for the Razorbacks.

For State, Todd Doolittle worked his longest start, going 6 1/3 innings. Doolittle matched a career-high with eight strikeouts and only allowed three hits. Jamie Gant worked in relief prior to Dunn, Crosby and Cleveland.

MSU out-hit Arkansas 9-6 in the series finale. Toops finished with three hits for the Razorbacks.

In the opener, Corley hit a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall in the first at-bat of the MSU seventh inning. For Corley, the home run was his Southeastern Conference leading 18th round tripper.

"We had our chances to win the final game," Corley said. "It's disappointing but we gave it all we had. There were some plays in each game that could have gone either way. Fortunately, the crowd was real good and we had a good weekend. Now, we have to go to Alabama and play hard because we still have plenty to play for."

Arkansas scored first with a single run in the fourth inning. Brady Toops drew a bases-loaded walk for that run. The walk came after a lead-off walk to Clay Goodwin and hits by Haas Pratt and Casey Rowlett.

MSU answered with a run of its own in the fourth inning. Joseph Hunter slapped an RBI single to tie the game 1-1.

The Bulldogs then grabbed the lead with three runs in the fifth inning. Batting with two runners on and one out, Craig Tatum hit his 11th home run of the season. The home run came after singles by Steve Gendron and Brad Corley.

An inning later, the Razorbacks stormed right back. Blake Parker had an RBI single. Brett Hagedorn drove in a run with a fielder's choice. A potential inning ending ground ball was errored on the MSU infield to tie the game 4-4.

The Bulldogs then had the final say with Corley's towering home run for the game winner.

Saunders Ramsey (6-1) pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the win. Ramsey threw 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to win Saturday's game as well. Starter Jeff Lacher was chased in the Arkansas sixth inning. Brett Cleveland faced three batters before giving way to Ramsey. Caton Hall (4-1) worked a perfect sixth inning before being touched for Corley's home run ball in the seventh inning. Charley Boyce started for the Razorbacks.

Corley finished with four of MSU's 10 hits. Tatum also had multiple hits for the Bulldogs. Arkansas finished with nine hits. Pratt, Rowlett and Blake Parker each had a pair of hits for the Razorbacks.

"This was a such a big weekend for our ballclub," MSU coach Ron Polk said. "The kids really played well and I am pleased with that effort. We were so close to winning three games and that would have been a super weekend."

MSU closes its 2004 regular season with a three-game conference series at Alabama next weekend. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide are scheduled to play at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The Sunday contest will be broadcast regionally by Comcast Sports Southeast.

Game 1: MSU 5, ARKANSAS 4
Arkansas 34-18 000 103 0 - 4 9 0
MSU 31-21 000 130 1 - 5 10 1
WP-Ramsey (6-1). LP-Hall (4-1). 2B-Hamblin (15). 3B-None. HR-Corley (18), Tatum (11). T-2:17.

Game 2: ARKANSAS 4, MSU 2, 8 innings
Arkansas 35-18 001 000 12 - 4 6 1
MSU 31-22 002 000 00 - 2 9 1
WP-Hall (5-1). LP-Crosby (1-2). 2B-Hode (13), Toops (14), Corley (10). T-2:35. A-2,164.


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