STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State junior right-hander Chris Stratton became the second Southeastern Conference pitcher to win four games this season as the Bulldogs snuck past Mercer 5-3 in college baseball action Friday night at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs broke a 2-2 with two runs in the fifth inning and an insurance score in the eighth inning. Such offense would be more than enough for the pitching trio of starter Ross Mitchell, reliever Stratton and closer Caleb Reed.
MSU won its seventh straight game to improve to 13-2 overall, while Mercer fell to 11-4. The two teams resume their weekend series and close MSU's season-opening 17-game homestand with a 2 p.m. start Saturday and 1 p.m. start Sunday.
Stratton (4-0) worked five innings, in relief of Mitchell, who made his first MSU start. Stratton allowed four hits and two runs, with a season-high five walks and seven strikeouts. Reed struck out three and allowed one hit in two innings of work to earn his fourth save.
A solo home run by Mercer's Travis Benn tied the contest at 2 in the top half of the fourth inning.
Things stayed in a deadlock until the Bulldogs brought home a pair in the fifth inning. DeMarcus Henderson started things with a leadoff single. After a sacrifice bunt by Matthew Britton, Brayden Jones connected for a single. An infield hit by Frazier loaded the bases. A walk to Mitch Slauter forced in a run, while a ground ball out hit by Rea brought home another.
Mercer finished with seven hits. Derrick Workman and Nate Moorehouse each had two hits for the Bears. Starting pitcher Brandon Love (2-1) was lifted during the two-run fifth inning by the Bulldogs and took the loss.