Bulldogs salvage finale of series with Arkansas

Published 11:49 am Monday, April 18, 2011

Mississippi State snapped a losing streak and ended a frustrating weekend in Arkansas with some sweet relief on Sunday.

Luis Pollorena and Caleb Reed combined to allow one run in 8 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, helping the Bulldogs beat Arkansas 5-3 and salvage the finale of a weekend series in Fayetteville. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Bulldogs, including four straight in Southeastern Conference play.

Mississippi State had also lost five in a row against Arkansas.

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“This was a really big win,” said Reed, who earned his sixth save of the season. “The one thing you can say about our team is we always compete. The scouting report on the Arkansas hitters was that they were early swingers. (Pitching) Coach (Butch) Thompson told me to throw strikes and let them make the outs.”

Mississippi State’s victory created a muddled mess at the top of the SEC West standings. Arkansas (26-9, 8-7 SEC), Ole Miss and Alabama are tied for first. Auburn is a game back and Mississippi State (22-14, 6-9) is two behind.

Mississippi State plays Ole Miss in a non-conference game Tuesday at Trustmark Park, then hosts defending national champion — and SEC East leader — South Carolina in a three-game series beginning Friday.

MSU starter Evan Mitchell lasted just two-thirds of an inning Sunday. He was pulled after giving up three hits, including a two-run single to Kyle Robinson that spotted the Razorbacks a 2-0 lead.

Pollorena replaced Mitchell and gave up a run in the second, but nothing else. He went three innings before giving way to Reed, who went the rest of the way. Reed allowed only one hit and a walk in 5 1/3 innings and struck out two.

Reed faced only 17 batters and threw 60 pitches during his relief stint. He was helped by a pair of defensive gems from shortstop Jonathan Ogden and second baseman Sam Frost. Frost’s grab of a line drive turned into a double play.

With its pitchers locking up the Razorbacks’ batters, Mississippi State was able to take the lead for good with a pair of runs in the fourth inning. Wes Thigpen singled and scored on an error to tie the game at 3, then Jaron Shepherd drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly.

The Bulldogs added an insurance run in the seventh when Nick Vickerson drew a bases-loaded walk.

Jarrod Parks was the only Mississippi State player with more than one hit. He finished 2-for-3 with a double, RBI and two runs scored.