Once 29 seasons as the Mississippi State coach saw its final pitch – a Russ Sneed strikeout swinging – Ron Polk walked toward Arkansas third baseman Logan Forsythe and handed him a slip of paper.
He strolled toward home plate and shook the hand of Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. As Unforgettable crooned its way over the Dudy Noble Field loudspeakers, Polk waved goodbye to those who remained of the announced 5,489, who were giving him their fourth standing ovation of the afternoon.
This is how the Polk era ended here Saturday afternoon, a day which will go in the record book only as a 15-10 Mississippi State loss to Arkansas. Neither team qualified for the SEC Tournament. State’s woeful season ended at 23-33, 9-21 in the SEC – its worst record since 1975.
Polk’s young and banged-up team tried as best it could to give him one last hurrah and record a sweep against UA (33-22, 14-15). The Bulldogs erased a seven-run deficit after the first inning and a half, only to lose in a series of errors in the eighth and ninth innings. Gritty senior left-hander Justin Pigott, making the final start of his MSU career, didn’t make it through the second inning.