STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - The comeback had to be really super for Mississippi State Friday night.
It was just that.
Battling one of the nation's best teams and best pitchers, MSU stayed patient and eventually erased a five-run deficit to topple No. 3 Arkansas 6-5 in the opening game of a Super Bulldog Weekend three-game Southeastern Conference series at Dudy Noble Field.
A crowd of 7,303 were treated to a stirring comeback in the first-ever Super Bulldog Weekend game played at the new stadium. The Bulldogs scored three times in the sixth inning and three times in the eighth inning.
"It was a great win for our team and for our fans," MSU head coach Gary Henderson said. "JP France comes in down five runs and retires every batter he faced. A lot of credit to our position kids. They hung in there and kept battling. After Luke Alexander hit the home run, the kids just really came together. It was a good night for our kids and fans."
On the mound, JP France (2-1) was perfect in 4.0 innings of relief, and downed 12 batters via the strikeout. Rowdey Jordan also had a sparkling catch for the second out of the ninth inning from his left field position.
MSU improved to 20-19 overall and 6-10 in league play, while Arkansas fell to 28-11 and 10-6.
Arkansas built a 4-0 lead on a second-inning grand slam by Eric Cole. The Razorbacks added another run in the fifth inning.
In the home half of the sixth inning, Jordan started things with a bunt single. Jake Mangum then drew a walk. Luke Alexander followed with a three-run home run to left center. Also in this at-bat, Hunter Stovall had his fourth double but was stranded at second base.
The rally then became complete in the eighth inning. Mangum and Alexander drew back-to-back walks to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Tanner Allen and a strikeout, Jordan Westburg hit a game-tying two-run single.
Elijah MacNamee then brought home the game-winner with another single.
Jordan finished with two of MSU's seven hits. Konnor Pilkington allowed nine hits and five runs (four earned) in five innings of work for the Bulldogs.
Heston Kjerstad, Grant Koch and Jax Biggers each had two hits for the Razorbacks. Blaine Knight drew the start and was lifted with two outs in the sixth inning. Matt Cronin (2-1) took the loss.
The Diamond Dawgs and Razorbacks will retake the field on Saturday for a doubleheader that will begin at noon CT. The second game of the doubleheader will begin 45 minutes following the conclusion of the day's first game. The Dudy Noble Field gates will open at 10 a.m.
Saturday reserved-seating ticketholders will take priority for both of Saturday's games. General admission tickets for Sunday will still be valid for general admission for both of Saturday's games. For those that have reserved seating tickets for Sunday, these tickets can be used as general admission for access into the stadium, but not the chairbacks. Please contact the MSU Ticket Office at 662-325-2600 if any additional information is needed.