For Mississippi State head coach Chris Lemonis, there was no sugarcoating all this.
On Sunday, No. 3 Mississippi State fell to No. 2 Arkansas 6-4. It was the third straight day the Bulldogs lost to the Razorbacks as Arkansas polished off a three-game sweep. MSU failed to defend its home field even just once over the weekend. And Lemonis, in candid fashion, explained why in the moments after Sunday's defeat.
"We just got manhandled in all phases of the game,” Lemonis said. “We got beat. That includes coaching. We got beat in every phase of the game. We’ve got a good team, but we did not show up ready to play this weekend.”
On Friday, MSU fell victim to an Arkansas offense that made the fences at Dudy Noble Field look like they were set at youth league distance. The Razorbacks popped four home runs in the series opener. Then on Saturday, they hit four more and were aided by shoddy MSU defense. Arkansas again used power and State mistakes to claim Sunday's affair. The Razorbacks took control with a five-run fourth inning that featured a homer and an MSU throwing error by third baseman Kamren James that allowed two Arkansas runners to touch home before two more scored later in the frame.
There were moments of hope for the Bulldogs. Luke Hancock and Logan Tanner hit back-to-back solo homers in the sixth to pull MSU within two runs. And there were opportunities late, but as was par for the course for the weekend, things didn't go State's way.
The Bulldogs got two on with one out in the eighth before Brad Cumbest struck out on three pitches and Lane Forsythe flew out to center.
In the ninth, Scotty Dubrule led off with a single and the Dudy Noble crowd was hopeful for last at-bat MSU heroics as has already happened a few times this year. However Rowdey Jordan followed with a double-play grounder and hopes at a rally were dashed. Pretty soon after that, the Razorback sweep was complete.
Three games. Three frustrating losses. Perhaps the only good to come from the weekend for MSU might've been a lesson or two learned the hard way.
"We kind of got woke up this weekend," MSU right fielder Tanner Allen said. "In a way, that's kind of a good thing, us getting embarrassed at home. Like I said (Saturday), we've been told how great we are. A lot of times that can be your problem. We kind of got exposed this weekend, but the sun comes up (Monday), get back to practice and get ready for a new week. I still think we're one of the top teams in the country."
(NOTE: YOU CAN VIEW TANNER ALLEN'S FULL POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE WITH THE VIDEO AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE. YOU CAN VIEW HEAD COACH CHRIS LEMONIS' FULL POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE BY CLICKING HERE.)
Alright, let's take a look at the numbers, Cowbell Corner MVPs, the Moment of the Game and a couple of Notes from Sunday.
Arkansas at Mississippi State box score
MSU Offensive MVP: DH Luke Hancock
Hancock reached base in three of his four trips to the plate on Sunday and did all he could to spark State offensively. He was issued a walk and was hit by a pitch, but his biggest blow came in the sixth inning.
MSU was down 6-2 entering that inning. However Hancock connected with a no-doubt solo home run over the right-field wall. It was his team-leading sixth of the year, and when Logan Tanner followed with a homer of his own one batter later, it looked like Hancock might've begun the MSU comeback.
It wasn't meant to be. However it was still another strong day for Hancock.
MSU Pitching MVP: RP Landon Sims
Sims wasn't quite his usual self on Sunday, but he was still pretty easily the most effective arm the Bulldogs ran out there.
To be fair, even a less-than-at-his-best Sims is still better than most. After all, he wasn't charged with a run and didn't allow a hit over his 3.2 innings and he struck out five. However he also issued four walks.
So no, it wasn't a perfect Sims outing. But it was still pretty impressive.
Moment of the Game: Can't stop the bleeding
The game was essentially lost in the fourth inning for MSU. Starting pitcher Jackson Fristoe was rolling along before surrendering a solo home run to Matt Goodheart. And while solo homers don't kill you, what happened later in the frame pretty much did take out the Bulldogs.
State couldn't stop the bleeding. Fristoe was his own worst enemy at times with a walk and a wild pitch. And he wasn't helped by his defense as an error by James gift wrapped Arkansas two runs. The Bulldogs simply couldn't put an end to the inning and by the time it was over, they were in a 5-0 hole.
– Left fielder Brayland Skinner missed Sunday's game with a knee injury suffered on Saturday when he was hit by a pitch. He was removed from Saturday's game after getting beaned, and was still having lingering problems on Sunday.
"He’s probably day to day," Lemonis said of Skinner. "I’m not even exactly sure. He wasn’t able to move (Sunday), so we had to keep him on the bench."
– Will Fristoe stay as MSU's No. 3 weekend starter next week? That remains to be seen. Lemonis didn't commit to anything when asked on Sunday.
"I thought he was fine (Sunday)," Lemonis said of Fristoe. "The first three innings, he was really good. Fourth inning, we ran into some trouble. But we don’t make plays either. It’s a hard (evaluation)...We’ll sit down and figure out next week, being a shifted week because of Easter (with a Thursday-Friday-Saturday series), it throws some different dynamics in there."