Pigott Goes Distance in 2-1 Win

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Junior lefty Justin Pigott turned in a staff season-first complete-game pitching performance Saturday afternoon leading No. 23 Mississippi State (21-7, 7-4 SEC) to a series-clinching 2-1 win over No. 3 Arkansas (24-10, 7-4 SEC) at Baum Stadium/Cole Field.

Pigott scattered eight hits with two walks and allowed one unearned run en route to the win, which nailed down Mississippi State's second SEC road series of the year and third league series in four overall.

"I haven't been pitching as well as I've wanted to this year, but today, thankfully, we got some breaks… we didn't hit the ball real well but we got enough," said Pigott after nailing down his fourth career complete game and his first complete game win on the road. "Welker had great stuff today, so it was great to get those two runs in the seventh."

The Bulldogs, no-hit over the first six innings by Arkansas junior right-hander Duke Welker, got all the run production it needed in the seventh inning. First baseman Mitch Moreland ended Welker's no-hitter when he opened with a double to left-center. After Brian LaNinfa lined out to left, Joseph McCaskill singled to right, and both scored when Jeff Flagg's line drive found the gap in right-center.

Welker (4-2) silenced the Bulldog bats over the first six innings, recording 11 strikeouts and allowing just four base-runners over the span. He was replaced in the eighth by Travis Hill, who gave up singles to Brandon Turner and Brian LaNinfa and struck out two in two innings of scoreless relief. Welker and Hill combined to hold MSU to a season-low five hits.

But the day belonged to Pigott, who successfully worked around base-runners in each of the first five innings. The Bulldogs committed a pair of fielding errors but turned a season-high four double plays to help nail down State's fourth consecutive series win in Fayetteville.

After being blanked by Pigott over the first five frames, the Razorbacks broke the scoreless deadlock in the sixth inning. Sean Jones reached base on a fielding error at third, Logan Forsythe laced a one-out single to left and Jeff Nutt followed with a run-scoring hit to left. Pigott then got out of the jam when Danny Hamblin grounded into an inning-ending double play. An inning later Pigott fanned Jake Dugger and catcher Edward Easley threw out Tim Smalling attempting to steal third base to end the seventh. Jones opened the Arkansas eighth with a single but was retired when Casey Coon grounded into a double play.

"Justin is capable of doing something like he did today, it's just a matter of getting a little confidence and a little command," said MSU head coach Ron Polk. "I want to praise Justin Pigott. He was masterful today. But you also have to tip your cap to Duke Welker. He's the real deal… as good as we've seen. It was a great win for us today. In close games it sometimes comes down to one quality swing of the bat to win a ball game. Thankfully we got it today from Jeff Flagg, and now it gives us a chance to come out of here with a sweep Sunday against a very fine Arkansas team."

Arkansas put the tying runner on base with two out in the ninth when Brian Walker singled to right. But Pigott got pinch-hitter Wayne Hrozek to fly out to center fielder Mark Goforth to end the game.

Flagg, who notched his seventh game-winning hit of the season and his second in as many games at Arkansas, paced MSU with a double and two RBI. Logan Forsythe singled twice to lead Arkansas' eight-hit attack.

The teams conclude their weekend series Sunday in a 1:35 p.m. contest. MSU senior right-hander Josh Johnson (2-1, 6.60) is expected to be matched with Arkansas ace lefty Nick Schmidt (6-0, 1.83), who missed a Friday night start with an ankle injury.

Gene's Page Top Stories