The Razorbacks plated a run in each of the first four innings off Bulldog starter Joey Collums to take a 4-1 lead.
Cliff Crouse opened the game with a double and scored two batters and a stolen base later on Andrew Wishy's infield groundout. Michael Conner walked to open the second and came home on the second wild pitch by Collums in the inning. Arkansas extended its lead to 3-0 in the third on two-out singles by Wishy and Ryan Fox. MSU broke scoring ice in the bottom of the third when Matthew Maniscalco doubled to right and scored on Matthew Brinson's single through the middle of the infield. The Razorbacks matched that run in the fourth when lead-off batter Nick Pitts was struck by a pitch, advanced to third on Brett Hagedorn's single to right and came home on Cody Clark's sacrifice fly.
But Mississippi State, held to three hits and one run over the first five innings, touched three UA relief pitchers for five runs in the sixth.
"We knew we had to score some runs," Brinson said when asked what the mood of the team was with the score 4-1, Arkansas. "We were not losing this game today. We were up in the dugout every single moment. To get this win against them, a great hitting ballclub, was huge."
Brannon replaced UA starter Scott Roehl in the fifth and worked out of a two-baserunner jam. But in the sixth he walked Jason Burkley to open the inning and left the game after Brent Lewis ripped a run-scoring double off the centerfield wall.
Hogan, Arkansas' Friday night starter, replaced Brannon and was greeted with singles by Steve Gendron and Jon Mungle. "He hung a slider out over the plate and I poked it up the middle for a hit," said Gendron. After retiring the next two batters, Hogan walked a pair, the second a bases-loaded free pass to Chad Henry that knotted the score at 4-4. The Bulldogs then completed their scoring burst against a third Arkansas pitcher in the inning, Jonathan Richmond, who gave up a bloop single down the leftfield line that plated two more runs. "I stuck the bat out there and got a bloop single," said Brinson about his single to put the Bulldogs ahead 6-4. "It's not the prettiest thing in the world but I'll take it."
Gendron commented on the big inning that put the Dogs ahead 6-4. "(The big inning) has been part of offense recently. Big run innings are huge for any team."
The two-run lead was big enough for Papelbon, who stranded two Arkansas base-runners in both the sixth and seventh innings, and Goodson, who left UA runners at second and third in the eighth and then retired the Razorbacks in order in the ninth.
"I was impressed with big Rob," said Papelbon. "He came in there in a tough situation and turned it on. That was a big learning experience for him."
It was the first SEC win of the year for Papelbon (2-2), who gave up four hits, walked three and struck out four over a season high-matching four innings. The Bulldog sophomore gave up a single, walked a batter, and advanced both into scoring position to open the seventh before striking out the next three batters. Papelbon walked the lead-off batter in the eighth and was replaced on the hill by sophomore Robby Goodson.
"I have been closing all year, but this was the last game of the series and they decided to use me as much as they could," said Papelbon. "Man, I ran out of gas in about the 7th inning. I'm not used to pitching four or five inning. I told the coaches if I get someone on in the 8th inning 'come get me because I am running out of gas'."
In his first SEC pitching performance, Goodson walked his first batter, retired the next three in the eighth and then set the Razorbacks down in order in the ninth to pick up his first career save. Two of his outs in the 9th inning were strikeouts.
"I was a little nervous starting out," said Goodson. "This was my first time to pitch in the SEC and I just had to get my feet wet a little bit. Once I threw a few pitches, I was fine. I just tried to come in, throw hard and see if they could hit it. I was pretty pumped up in the 9th inning after I got my first out."
Matthew Brinson had three of MSU's seven hits and drove in three runs, while Matthew Maniscalco scored twice and reached base five times with a double, two walks and twice was struck by pitches.
"I just wanted to get on base and let the guys behind me drive me in," said Maniscalco about reaching base five times and scoring twice. "They are going to do that."
MISSISSIPPI STATE 6, ARKANSAS 4
UA (19-13, 5-7 SEC) 111 100 000 - 4-8-0
MSU (21-12-1, 8-6 SEC) 001 005 00x - 6-7-0
WP - Jonathan Papelbon (1-2) LP - Gary Hogan (3-4), .SV - Robby Goodson. T - 3:18. ATT - 6,336 (paid), 2,918 (actual).
CLICK HERE to view pictures from Sunday's game.
Thought you guys would enjoy reading this email that was sent to one of our Left Field Loungers by a University of Georgia baseball player's parent. His thoughts and comments are the very reasons the MSU baseball atmosphere is second to none in college baseball. Thanks to Pat Long (gray shirt in picture) and David Cook (maroon shirt) for sharing this email (Click on the picture to see a larger version).
To my friends in the Left Field Lounge,
My son plays for UGA and I had the opportunity to visit with you guys this past Saturday and Sunday for the MSU-UGA series. On Saturday, I was just walking around kind of taking in all of the atmosphere when David Cook saw my Georgia hat and invited me to have some of his "3rd place ribs." Well, needless to say, I never made it to the stands and I watched the entire pregame and game with some of the nicest folks I have ever been around. These folks are full of southern charm and had such a sincere and genuine friendliness that I was actually overwhelmed with emotion. Never in my life have I ever experienced such a fun time like that and I was a total stranger. But I quickly learned that I was a stranger for about 30 seconds. Now I have friends and memories that will last forever.
I want to thank my friends from the Left Field Lounge and cannot wait until Georgia returns to Starkville for the series in two years. Who knows, I may not wait that long to return. Keep spreading friendship and love. I had the time of my life. Keep it up!
UGA Parent and Fan
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.