STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State‘s Hunter Renfroe hit a pair of home runs Friday night as the Baseball Bulldogs upset third-ranked Arkansas 11-2 in a Southeastern Conference baseball game played before a season-best 4,007 at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs won the opening game of the weekend series from the Razorbacks by pounding out season highs in hits and runs scored in conference play. MSU improved to 16-7 overall and 2-2 in league play, while Arkansas fell to 20-3 and 3-1.
The Razorbacks have won nine of the previous 11 meetings including four straight in this stadium. That started to change when Renfroe hit an inside-the-park home run in the first inning. For the Bulldogs, it was their first inside-the-park home run since Brad Corley accomplished the feat against Louisiana Tech in 2004.
“I looked at (MSU third base coach Lane Burroughs) point to home plate as I’m rounding second and thought you are crazy,” Renfroe said. “Obviously he knew more about what was going on behind me in the outfield.”
In the third inning, Renfroe added a no-doubt two-run shot into the left field lounge. For the Bulldog sophomore, it was his first two career round-trippers. MSU had two players tally multi-homer games last season with the last being Jaron Shepherd against Alabama on April 30.
The early offense was more than enough for junior right-hander Chris Stratton. Stratton (5-0) allowed five hits and two runs (both earned), with nine strikeouts and two walks. In seven innings of work, Stratton threw 107 pitches.
“I am telling (MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson) that on a Friday night, that’s a solid effort,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “We would’ve taken that effort any year that I’ve been here from anybody on our pitching staff. Now it’s getting to a point where our expectations are so high.”
Stratton took advantage of two double plays and had a stretch where he retired eight straight batters.
Offensively, the Bulldogs built the early lead with two runs in each of their first four at-bats. Renfroe had the RBIs in the first and third innings. In the second inning, Demarcus Henderson had a sacrifice-fly and Adam Frazier had an RBI-single. Trey Porter drove in two runs with a single in the fourth inning.
Mitch Slauter had his first career three-hit game for the Bulldogs. Frazier had his third three-hit night and his second multi-RBI game. Frazier has now hit safely in 20 of the Bulldogs’ 23 games. Renfroe now has four RBIs for the second time this season. Porter and Renfroe each had multiple hits.
Also for MSU, C.T. Bradford started in center field, returning to the lineup after a shoulder injury had forced him out of the lineup for the last eight games.
Arkansas finished with seven hits. Jimmy Bosco and Bo Bingham each had multiple hits for the Razorbacks.
In his shortest start of the season, D.J. Baxendale (5-1) lasted three innings, allowing nine hits and eight runs (seven earned), with two strikeouts and a walk.
Jonathan Holder threw two innings of shutout relief for the Bulldogs.
The series resumes with a 2 p.m. start Saturday. The series finale is at noon Sunday and will be televised regionally by SportSouth.
- MSU rides Renfroe, Stratton to upset of No. 3 Arkansas (with video) (blogs.clarionledger.com)
- Stratton pitches gem but Dogs fall at LSU (blogs.clarionledger.com)
- Bulldogs avoid sweep at LSU (blogs.clarionledger.com)