Arkansas defeated Mississippi State, 3-1, with Luke Bonfield and Grant Koch slamming homers. Blaine Knight pitched seven innings, striking out 11. Kevin Kopps pitched the eighth and Cannon Chadwick pitched the ninth as the Hogs won the SEC opener.
Ryan Gridley hit a two-out solo home run over the Arkansas bullpen in left field to give Mississippi State a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Brent Booker followed with a double to left, then stole third when Grant Koch had to lunge for an outside pitch in the dirt. Blaine Knight (1-1, 2.79 ERA) struck out Luke Alexander to end the first.
The Razorbacks answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning for a 2-1 lead. Chad Spanberger sliced a one-out single to the opposite field to left field. Then, Luke Bonfield followed with an opposite field two-run homer in the MSU bullpen to make it 2-1. State starter Konnor Pilkington (2-2, 1.73) had allowed only five earned runs in 26 innings before Friday.
In the second, both teams went down in order. Pilkington struck out the side with Carson Shaddy and Matt Burch called out.
In the MSU third, Jake Mangum reached on a one-out single to right. But he was out stealing on called strike three to Cody Brown to end the inning. Grant Koch’s throw had Mangum out be a step for the double play.
Arkansas stranded two runners in the fourth. Bonfield singled and Shaddy was hit by a pitch. Burch lined out to left to end the inning.
After five innings, it’s still Arkansas, 2-1. Jaxon Williams reached on a lead-off walk in the fifth. Jax Biggers took two strikes after squaring for a bunt, then was called out for the first out. Jake Arledge was out swinging. Spanberger cranked a long fly ball that curved foul by 10 feet, with more than enough distance for a homer. He was called out to end the fifth. The teams are even with three hits apiece.
Knight allowed one runner in the sixth, hitting Cody Brown with two outs. After balking him to second, he got Ridley on a bouncer to third.
The Hogs added a run in the sixth on Koch’s lead-off homer. He launched Pilkington’s first pitch of the inning into the Hog Pen in left. It was his sixth homer of the season.
Knight sailed through the seventh. He got the Bulldogs 1-2-3 with a strikeout to end the frame. He’s got 11 Ks through 7 innings. That’s a career high, as well as his 104 pitches. The Hogs went down 1-2-3 in their 7th with Biggers and Burch taking called strike three.
In the Mississippi State eighth, Kevin Kopps relieved for Arkansas to start the inning. He stranded a runner at second. Cannon Chadwick came on to open the MSU 9th. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his first save of the season.