FAYETTEVILLE — Freshman Connor Noland went 7.2 innings, his longest outing of the year, and led the No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks to a 10-2 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday at Baum-Walker Stadium.
The win gives the Hogs a sweep of the Bulldogs for the second time in three seasons. With a 12-6 Southeastern Conference record (30-10 overall), Arkansas moves ahead of the Texas A&M Aggies for the SEC West lead by a half-game.
The right-handed pitcher held Mississippi State to four hits with no walks and five strikeouts on 89 pitches. Noland earned his second win of the week as he had two scoreless innings Tuesday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The former Greenwood Bulldog is now 2-2 on the season.
“I’ve said all along that he’s mature for being a freshman in college,” said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. “His mental makeup is advanced over some kids his age — maybe a lot — that we coach. It’s one reason why liked him right when he got in here and started working with us. We felt like he’d have a chance to pitch on the weekend, because of the mental part of it. Physically, he’s already there. Now he just needs experience. But you did see the mature part of him come out this whole week leading up today, and he got rewarded for it.”
Noland retired 10 of his next 11 batters after a hiccup in the first inning, leaving two aboard but not letting any runs cross. In his dominance of the next 11 batters, only Gunner Halter for the Bulldogs got a single. Noland finished the game with 11 groundball outs and not an extra-base hit allowed.
“I’ve been waiting for that moment for a long time,” said Noland. “Going seven and two-thirds innings, I mean that’s what you dream about, going out there and performing well at your peak performance. That was a big thing and just happy it happened.”
The Razorbacks continue their homestand with a two-game series against the Northwestern State Demons Tuesday and Wednesday at Baum-Walker Stadium.