Missouri State continued its season turnaround Tuesday night at the expense of an Arkansas squad that has lost four straight.

Nick Rodriguez and Alex Socci both homered and the Bears used a six-run third inning to win for the eighth time in 10 games by downing the No. 7 Razorbacks 8-4 in Springfield, Mo.

Missouri State head coach Keith Guttin was obviously pleased with the win over Arkansas team that he acknowledged was missing four starters due to injuries.

“I feel good about the way we’re playing right now,” Guttin told the Springfield News Leader. “I think we caught Arkansas at a time with a lot of injuries but we did what we had to do offensively and I thought our relief pitching was excellent.”

Missouri State (23-16) turned a 2-1 deficit to Arkansas (30-11) into 7-2 lead with the half-dozen runs against relievers Zack Morris (5 runs, 5 hits) and Austin Ledbetter (1 run on 1 hit).

“We played a solid game except for one inning,” Arkansa head coach Dave Van Horn said. “I think Morris came in and gave up maybe 4 or 5 hits, 4 or 5 runs. Ledbetter gave up a couple.”

Van Horn noted his pitchers were not finishing off hitters after putting them in two-strike holes. 

“The issue with that (third) inning was all of those big hits were with two strikes,” Van Horn said. “We were ahead in the count 0-2 and 1-2 on the home run, on the ball that was hit down the right-field line. That was supposed to an expand up, and it was, I don’t know, belt high. 

“Those are mistakes that you can’t make, especially when you’re facing a team that can hit. We competed at the plate, but we got down big early and it was a battle.”

Arkansas (30-11, 11-7) will host Texas A&M in a a three-game series beginning Thursday night at 7 p.m. while looking to break the losing streak.

Texas A&M (25-15, 9-9) lost to San Houston State 9-2 on Tuesday night, but has won 2 of 3 games against SEC foes Ole Miss, Auburn, Missouri and Kentucky the last four weekends.

“Well, you can use whatever lingo you want,” Van Horn said. “You can say we’re just trying to survive, we’re just trying to get through the next couple of weeks until we get everybody back. 

“We have to win some games. We’ll get after it on Thursday, and it’s going to be a great series with A&M. They’re hot. They’ve won their last four series I think. 

“This game can flip on a dime. You get it going, guys get hot, or you drop another guy to injury, and you’re going ‘Wow, this is pretty tough.’ 

“We’re not hanging our head or not thinking we’re any good. We know we can play. We’re just playing with guys that haven’t been a part of the combination that got us to 30 wins coming into tonight.”

The win over Arkansas was the highest ranked team Missouri State had knocked off since beating the No. 4 Razorback last season in Fayetteville.

Missouri State lost 10 straight games to Arkansas from 2007-2014, but has since won 8 of 14, including one to win the NCAA Tournament Super Regional in Fayetteville in 2017.

Missouri State lost a 7-6 road game at  Missouri last Tuesday night when former Arkansas catcher Dylan Leach’s walked it off with a single.

Trey Ziegenbein and Reed Metz shined in relief for the Bears this week.

“I thought we got some clutch hitting, particularly early,” Guttin said. “We have some veteran guys and we feel like we can create damage in parts of our lineup.”

Arkansas began the game without injured starters in left fielder Jared Wegner, center fielder Tavian Josenberger, second baseman Peyton Stovall and catcher Parker Rowland.

Josenbeger suffered a hamstring injury in the second game of Georgia’s three-game sweep of Arkansas  last weekend and Van Horn said he will definitely not be available this week.

“He’s got a Grade 1, which is about as good of news as we could have hoped for,” Van Horn said “He’s had an ultrasound and we had an MRI just to double-check it. Now it’s just a matter of healing up.

“I don’t know a timeline on that. Don’t want to hurt it again. If he hurts it again, his season’s probably over. So we’re going to have to just really let him talk to us and we told him to be really honest and we’ll figure it out. We’ll slow-play it if we have to.”

Rowland missed last weekend’s game in Georgia, but entered the Tuesday’s game late, caught a couple of innings and got an at bat. 

“Rowland could have started tonight, but I didn’t want him to catch the whole game,” Van Horn said. “He should be good to go Thursday. Two or three innings was about what I had planned.”

Stovall’s absence was basically rest management per Van Horn.

“Just resting him,” Van Horn said. “He’ll play Thursday. … Early in the season I rested him, about six weeks ago, with just some soreness in his arm. So we’re just taking care of him.”

Van Horn also confirmed that pitcher Brady Tygart (ulnar collateral ligament sprain) will return to action this weekend for the first time since March 1 and that pitcher Dylan Carter will be available to pitch beginning Thursday after needing some rest in the Georgia series.

Tygart might even act as a starting pitcher and go the first few innings in one game.

“You’ll see him this weekend,” Van Horn said. “ Wow, you must be reading our mind. You must have heard something. It could happen. That could happen.”

Rodriguez hit Arkansas starting pitcher Cody Adcock’s third pitch out of the park in the bottom of the first to put Bears up 1-0.

The Razorbacks tied it in the top of the second when Ben McLaughlin doubled and raced home on  Brady Slavens’ single.

Slavens, the SEC’s active career RBI leader with 177, scored later in the inning on an error on Hudson Polk’s fielder’s choice as the visitors took a 2-1 lead.

Slavens, the Razorbacks’ normal first baseman, played left due to the injuries to Werner and Josenberger.

“He’s played some outfield,” Van Horn said. “Obviously last year he played right field. He knew a couple days ago this was going to happen. Yeah, just trying to figure out how to get some bats in the lineup with all the bats that are hurt.”

Adcock escaped a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the second with a double play on his 47th and last pitch of the night.

Morris (0-3) took over on the mound in the third, but got just two outs while facing seven hitters.

Ledbetter came in and allowed the two-run homer to Socci.

Morris and  Ledbetter both got two outs each while, Parker Coil (2 2/3) innings and Ben Bybee (2 innings) also pitched.

It was a good return to the mound for Bybee, whose last two pitches at Georgia on Saturday resulted in a grand slam to tie the game and a solo home run to end it.

“They midweek games) are challenging, but you need to play them because we’ve got to develop some guys,” Van Horn said. “Just like you just saw Ben Bybee throw two really good innings and Coil maybe gained a little bit of confidence tonight. He’s moved ahead of some people. 

“So yeah, we may lose tonight, but it may help us win on Saturday or hopefully in the tournament and down the road. We’ve got to get these guys ready.”