STARKVILLE, Miss. - On this Friday night, Mississippi State junior right-hander Chris Stratton again threw nine innings. However, this time around, Stratton also got the win.
Throwing the Bulldogs' third complete game of the season, Stratton needed 104 pitches to polish off a five-hit shutout as MSU knocked off No. 22 Ole Miss 4-0 in the opening game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series played at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU ran its win streak to five straight while moving to 26-16 overall and 9-10 in league play. Ole Miss fell to 27-15 and 9-10. The Bulldogs have allowed four runs in 52 innings of work during the win streak. The Southeastern Conference now has five complete games this season, with three of them coming from a Starkville-based Bulldog.
"What can be said about Chris Stratton that has not been said before?" MSU head coach John Cohen said. "He is a competitor. He takes the mound and challenges every hitter. It's a great feeling as a coach when you know the tone is going to be set in your favor for the rest of the weekend."
The Bulldogs have won five series-opening contests this season. For Stratton, it was his second career complete game with this gem coming on the heels of a complete-game win at Tennessee in 2010. Ironically, Stratton worked nine innings last week against the same Volunteers team but left with no decision in a 2-1, 11-inning victory.
"My defense made all the plays tonight," Stratton said. "I would not have had this performance without them. Offensively, we got some runs early. After that, it was settle down and throw strikes. When your defense has your back like this, it makes my job a whole lot easier."
The Bulldogs played errorless ball and thanks to the splendid job by shortstop Adam Frazier, turned two double plays. MSU also got a diving catch by center fielder C.T. Bradford to snuff a threat in the eighth inning.
MSU grabbed a 2-0 lead with two unearned scores in the third inning. After UM starter Bobby Wahl got the first two outs, Frazier made it 35 games with a base hit thanks to a single to left field. An infield error - one of two by UM - extended the at-bat. The Bulldogs took full advantage as Trey Porter and Daryl Norris followed with back-to-back hits. The error scored one run, while Norris' hit scored the other.
The Bulldogs ran the lead to 3-0 on an RBI-single by Mitch Slauter in the fifth inning. In the seventh inning, a leadoff error again set the tone. Brent Brownlee helped his club cash in with an RBI-double.
Such offense would be more than enough for Stratton (8-0). Now the league leader in victories, Stratton allowed five hits and struck out seven, with only one walk. The Rebels only reached four batters past the minimum.
Wahl (5-1) threw six innings, allowing four hit and three runs (one earned), with seven strikeouts and two walks.
Alex Yarbrough had three of Ole Miss' five hits, while running his hit streak to 21 games.
The series resumes at 2 p.m. Saturday. SportSouth will have the regional telecast.