Arkansas pulls off stunning Mother’s Day rally to take series from Mississippi State


FAYETTEVILLE – It was one Mother’s Day of a win.

No. 3 Arkansas rallied from an early six-run deficit to roar past No. 14 Mississippi State 9-6 Sunday while taking an SEC baseball series to the delight a crowd of 10,410 fans at Baum-Walker Stadium.

Unlike Saturday when they spotted the Bulldogs an 8-0 lead, the Razorbacks (42- 10, 19-8) had time to catch and pass the Bulldogs (33-18, 15-12) on Mother’s Day.

Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn credited his bullpen and Mississippi State’s chirping in its dugout after it got up 6-0 as factors in what he called probably the best team win of the year.

“Yeah, so what a great job by our bullpen,” Van Horn said. “I mean really all weekend when you look at it, they saved us this weekend. And then also the offense doesn’t get a lot of credit, but they did it on Friday… And they did it again yesterday, just not quite enough.

“And then today, honestly, you’re down 6-0. Their dugout’s about as loud as they can be over there, talking a little bit of bull.

“And we just kept grinding it out and you know we we got a two-run homer here and a two-run homer there. And uh-oh we got another one and we had the lead. And (relief pitchers Will) McEntire and (Gabe) Gaeckle finished it up for us.

“Probably the best team win of the year for us just because we were down, game three. It was just fun. The last few innings were really fun for us.”

The win kept Arkansas a game back of Kentucky and tied them with Tennessee for second in the SEC overall race at the Cats beat Florida and Vanderbilt beat the Vols.

The SEC Western Division-leading Razorbacks also remained two games ahead of Texas A&M, who avoided a series sweep by winning 6-0 at Ole Miss on Sunday.

Arkansas will close out the regular season by traveling to play Texas A&M in a three-game series beginning with a game Thursday night at 7 p.m. that will be televised on ESPN 2.

“I think that they believe they’re a pretty good team,” Van Horn said of Arkansas. “I think that our team feels like that we’re better than what we’ve played a lot of times. We’ve still won a lot of games.

“You look at the numbers and you’re going, man, they don’t hit. They don’t hit, and our guys are like, we are better hitters than this. So, I just feel like they don’t feel like they’re out of the game, and a win like this can really help that.”

Arkansas’ Jayson Jones, Hudson White and Peyton Holt (three hits) all had two-run homers to fuel the rally with White’s tying the game 6-6 in the sixth inning and Holt’s giving the Razorbacks an 8-6 advantage later in the frame.

“I would say it’s the biggest win of the year just given the circumstances,” Holt said. “It’s getting to that time where you’ve got to be hitting the ball and you’ve got to be hot, and I think that showed that we’re starting to do that.

“Yeah, it was a big win for a series win. Get some momentum going into next weekend and then into the playoffs.”

Mississippi State head coach Chris Lemonis was understandably dismayed his team couldn’t extend its 6-0 lead after the third inning against Arkansas relievers Christian Foutch, McEntire (5-0) and Gaeckle, who earned his seventh save.

Mississippi State out-hit Arkansas 13-9, but left 12 runners on base while Arkansas stranded just three.

“You have just got to put them away and we didn’t,” Lemonis said.
“It is a tough environment, but if we want to achieve the goals we want to achieve and play at the level we want to play, you have to handle this environments,” Lemonis said.

“That was the disappointing thing about today, but maybe it’s a learning point because this is as tough a place to play as there is in college baseball.

“But you have got to put the ball in the strike zone, you have got to make plays. You have got to do things that help you win ballgames. We had a lot of momentum in this ballgame and just didn’t take advantage of it.”

Sunday’s results means the Razorbacks have now won 10 consecutive SEC home weekend series and 22 of their last 23 in league action.

Arkansas, which has not lost a series to the Bulldogs in Fayetteville since 2007, is also 13-2 against Mississippi State with five consecutive weekend series wins since 2019.
Arkansas starting pitcher Mason Molina pitched a scoreless first, but did not record an out in a second inning in which Mississippi State plated five runs.

That uprising included back-to-back home runs by the Bulldogs’ 8- and 9-hole hitters – Ethan Pulliam’s three-run blast off Molina and a solo shot from Joe Powell against Razorback reliever Gage Wood.

It was the first homer of the season for both Powell and Pulliam, whose RBI double in the third off Wood pushed it to 6-0.

Arkansas got its comeback started on Ryder Helfrick’s RBI ground out against Pico Kohn in the fourth that cut it to 6-1.

Jones’ two-run blast and Jared Sprague-Lott’s RBI ground accounted for the Razorbacks three runs in the fifth inning that cut the deficit to 6-4.

Jones was 0 of 11 in SEC action before that swing.

“I didn’t know if he had one hit or none,” Van Horn said. “I just decided, they’re starting a lefty … I thought Jones had a really good at-bat his last at-bat on Friday. He has power. I think, maybe he’ll get into one, maybe he’ll hit a home run. And fortunately he did.

“It’d be great if we could get him going a little bit and put him in there and hit down in the order, because he brings a lot of power down there. … When he becomes an ever day player, and he gets comfortable as he gets older, he’s going to hit for a lot for a lot of power. Because he hits the ball hard.”

Foutch, who has pitched a scoreless fifth, gave way to McEntire and Gaeckle, who both pitched two scoreless frames.

“I do believe that we got confidence from Friday and Saturday that we could still come back and win if our bullpen would just give us a little bit of a chance and they gave us a great chance,” Van Horn said.

Photo by John D. James

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