Chris Murray: Randall Fant working Sundays for Razorbacks

Chris Murray Bio
For a long time in the Southeastern Conference and other big-time college leagues, the Sunday starter was an afterthought, and that game (the finale of a three-game weekend series) was often a high-scoring affair. In many instances that is still the case, but pitching has become increasingly dominant across the country.

Randall Fant has locked down the Sunday starting role, and delivered another stellar start as the Arkansas Razorbacks defeated Mississippi State 3-1 to take the weekend series. Fant, a 6-foot-4 left-hander from the Texas side of Texarkana, improved to 2-0, and in five starts he has a 1.26 ERA in 28.2 innings. Perhaps most impressive is his 26-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio, with his change-up being maybe his best pitch.

On Sunday, Fant pitched six strong innings and made the Hogs’ three-run first inning stand up. The only blemish on his line Sunday was a solo homer given up to Wes Rea in the fourth inning, when he left a change high in the zone. Jalen Beeks pitch two innings of one-hit ball in relief, and Colby Suggs pitched around an error in the ninth for his third save.

After a brush with the law and finding his way into Dave Van Horn’s doghouse as a freshman, Fant seems to have matured and is living up to his billing. A dependable third starter will be crucial for the Hogs as they make a bid for a possible SEC title and deep run in the NCAA regionals.

The Hogs won a thriller Friday, 5-4. Matt Vinson gave Arkansas a 5-3 lead with a three-run triple in the sixth inning. A throwing error by Trent Daniel on an MSU bunt made it 5-4 and put the runners on second and third with no outs. Daniel got Adam Frazier to pop out, then Suggs came in and shut the door, striking out Alex Detz to end it.

Kendall Graveman delivered MSU’s only win of the weekend with a complete game five-hitter on Saturday. Ryne Stanek failed to record an out in the fifth inning, and the Hogs failed to score after plating a run in the first inning.

Arkansas committed two errors in each of the three games. Apparently, that is something the Hogs are going to have to work around. The Hogs have no non-conference games this week, but begin their series at Alabama at 7 p.m. Thursday on ESPNU.

At 6-3 in the SEC West, the Hogs are two games back of red-hot LSU and a game behind Alabama.

In the Sun Belt Conference, UALR completed a three-game sweep of Louisiana-Monroe, while Arkansas State slipped in the standings by being swept by Florida International.

The Trojans entered the weekend having lost their first six conference games. The sweep could be a springboard for them going forward. The Red Wolves were just a game out of first prior to the weekend, but will have to rebound after the stumble in Miami. State dropped Sunday’s game on an 11th-inning walkoff homer.

Central Arkansas won its first Southland Conference home series of the season, but missed out on a sweep. The Bears scored in double figures in the first two games against Lamar, but failed to come through in Saturday’s finale. Lamar rallied to tie the game in the ninth and win it in the 11th.

Southern Arkansas remains atop the Great American Conference with a 16-5 league record. Hot on the Muleriders’ trail is Henderson State, which has won five straight games to improve to 14-7. An even hotter team is Southwestern Oklahoma State, which swept Arkansas Tech in Weatherford, Okla., for its ninth consecutive win.

SAU went to Alva, Okla., and took all three games from Northwestern Oklahoma State.

The Reddies allowed just two runs in a three-game sweep of Southern Nazarene in Arkadelphia.

Coaches, SIDs, baseball fans from around the state: got a tip or interesting note? Pass it on to

Tags: , , , , , ,