State Takes Series Lidlifter At 'Bama, 3-1
Stratton became the first SEC pitcher to win nine games this season, while the Bulldogs won a conference series opener for the sixth time in eight weekends. With the win, MSU improved to 28-17 overall and 11-11 in league play, while Alabama fell to 17-29 and 6-16.
"Obviously, Strat came in and did a phenomenal job tonight for us, but I think the secret is out on him that Friday night in the SEC, they're not going to get to two strikes," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "They're going to take weaker swings and put balls in play, so he's got to be a little more economical with his pitches."
Stratton (9-0) allowed seven hits and, with six strikeouts and no walks. Ross Mitchell, Caleb Reed, Jacob Lindgren and Jonathan Holder combined to pitch the final two innings, with Holder getting the Bulldogs' 53th double play ball of the season for his second save.
"With Jonathan Holder, you talk about a kid that doesn't get sped up," Cohen said. "He is a 19-year-old freshman in the best league in America and he does a phenomenal job. We got to get him a little more opportunities like that. That's exactly what we wanted to do in the ninth."
The Bulldogs built a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. Trey Porter reached as a hit batsman. Porter then took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on balk call. A groundball by Daryl Norris brought home the run. Hunter Renfroe followed with a double but was stranded at third base.
An inning later, the Maroon and White ran the lead to 3-0. Tyler Fullerton began things with a double and was followed by Sam Frost, who hit a single. Adam Frazier followed with an RBI-single. Mitch Slauter lined a sacrifice-fly to cap the scoring in that at-bat.
Even on not his best night, that offense would be more than enough for Stratton and friends.
"I really don't feel like I had my best stuff tonight but I had a couple jam shots that got through," said Stratton, who became the 12th Bulldog to record 100 strikeouts in a season. "The key was continuing to compete and get through the game. It's a been there, done that type of deal. I have total confidence in everything that (catcher) Mitch (Slauter) calls."
Alabama broke up the shout in the eighth inning when Ben Moore touched Ross Mitchell for an RBI-single. Reed only needed two pitches to work the Bulldogs out of that jam. An inning later, Holder got a 3-2 pitch double-play ball with runners at first and third to snuff the final threat.
MSU finished with seven hits. Frazier and Fullerton each had multiple hits. For Frazier, it was his 20th multi-hit game of the season.
Alabama finished with 11 hits. Taylor Dugas, Moore and Josh Rosecrans each had multiple hits for the Crimson Tide. Starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull (2-4) was lifted in the sixth inning and took the loss.
The series resumes at 2:05 p.m. Saturday.