Gardner, who drew his first career start in a six-inning no-decision appearance last Saturday against South Carolina, blanked the Bulldogs and allowed just two hits over the first five innings. Chad Henry broke up the shutout with a solo home run in the sixth.
"My changeup was working really well for me today and that was what I got them out on," said Gardner. "I talked to (Arkansas starting pitcher) Hogan and he said they could hit the ball. He wasn't lying, when you make a mistake they let you know about it. They hit the ball. Mississippi State is a good ballclub. Hopefully, we don't have to see them until the (SEC Tournament)."
Gardner also talked about the plate umpire's strikezone. "He liked it up and down in the zone but he wasn't giving the corners to any of the pitchers. That really hurts when you make an 0-2 on the corner and he doesn't call it."
Arkansas took a 1-0 lead in the third when Nick Pitts laced a lead-off double to right-centerfield and later scored on Scott Bridges' fly ball to centerfield. The Razorbacks jumped on MSU starter Tanner Brock for four more runs in the fourth, two on Andrew Wishy's fourth home run of the year. "It was a fastball in that ran back over the plate a little bit," said Brock about the home run hit by Wishy. Michael Conner belted a solo home run to open the sixth and added a run-scoring double in the seventh for a 7-1 Arkansas lead.
Brock struck out six but gave up six runs on seven hits during his 5-1/3-inning start. "I felt like I could have held the game a lot closer than I did," Tanner said about his outing. "I felt great and had all my pitches working. I would have liked to have had some of those calls but that is the way the game goes sometimes."
Brian Owens and Chris Young followed Brock on the mound. Young gave up one hit in three innings of shutout relief work.
Michael Brown delivered the last of three Bulldog singles in the seventh to drive in MSU's second run of the game, and State plated an unearned run in the ninth when Steve Gendron singled and scored two batters later on Michael Brown's booted grounder at shortstop.
Gardner gave up two runs on five hits, walked one and struck out three. Relief pitcher Josh Merryman allowed three hits in 2-2/3 innings of game-closing mound work.
"(Gardner) threw a lot of strikes," said Henry. "He had a fastball and kind of a slurve. It is in between a fastball and a curve. We hit a lot of hard-hit balls right at people. It just didn't bounce our way today."
Steve Gendron and Michael Brown had two hits each for MSU while Conner and Pitts paced the Razorbacks with two hits apiece.
"We hit the ball fairly hard and did not strike out much, but we hit too many balls in the air," said Polk about MSU's hitting. "Their key hits were after walks. We walked five and hit one and three of those scored."
MSU junior lefty Joey Collums (2-2, 2.68) is expected to face Arkansas sophomore right-hander Scott Roehl (0-0, 7.94) in Sunday's series finale.
"We are in a position where we need to win so that we can get a good spot in a regional," said Henry about the importance of the game Sunday. "It kind of puts a little pressure on us but we play good under pressure."
ARKANSAS 7, MISSISSIPPI STATE 3
UA (19-12, 5-6 SEC) 001 401 10 - 7-8-1
MSU (20-12-1, 7-6 SEC) 000 001 11 - 3-8-2
WP - Jarrett Gardner (1-0). LP - Tanner Brock (4-3). HR - MSU: Chad Henry (2); UA: Andrew Wishey (4), Michael Conner (8), .T - 2:45. ATT - 6,782 (paid), 4,297 (actual).
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.