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Stratton solid again in win for baseball Bulldogs

April 7, 2012

Sam Frost had two hits and two RBI for the Bulldogs on Friday night. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)

It was another Friday night and another solid outing for Mississippi State junior Chris Stratton.

Stratton and the Bulldogs took game one of an Easter weekend series 7-4 over Vanderbilt at Dudy Noble Field, Polk-Dement Stadium.

"It's awesome," senior Brent Brownlee said of Stratton's performance. "I (got) to see it from the dugout. It is a different experience. He was lighting up out there. He was electric. I loved it."

The junior right hander improved his record to 7-0 for the season, which leads the Southeastern Conference. He pitched six innings, gave up six hits and four runs (just three earned). He only walked one batter and struck out six.

The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Sophomore Adam Frazier led off with a single and freshman Tyler Fullerton followed him with a walk.

Redshirt freshman Wes Rea delivered a two-out single to drive in Frazier and Fullerton.

"We had a lot of good at bats (Friday night)," MSU junior Daryl Norris said. "We got on base. Walks and (hit by pitches) allowed us to do a lot of things offensively."

The Bulldogs sent nine batters to plate and scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning.

Junior catcher Mitch Slauter started off the inning with a hit by pitch. Sophomore C.T. Bradford laid down a bunt and reached first and advanced to second on a wild throw to first by the pitcher.

Rea delivered again with a single driving in Slauter. Norris singled to left field to drive in Bradford.

Junior Sam Frost hit a double to the left field gap to plate Rea and Norris and extended the lead for the Bulldogs to 6-1 after three innings.

The top of the third saw the Commodores threaten, but it was quickly dismantled when a bunt attempt by designated hitter Andrew Harris was popped up and Stratton made a diving play in front of the mound to retire him and end the threat.

"We needed an out right there," Stratton said. "I was just trying to make a play. It was very big to make the play."

Mississippi State head coach John Cohen thought that was the biggest play of the game.

"Chris was excellent," Cohen said. "The play of the game for me was a bunt, if it falls, it's going to be a huge play. Just the athleticism by him, the play he made was not an easy play."

Stratton allowed three runs in the sixth inning, but managed to get out of it.

"It was good," Stratton said of his outing. "It was going how I wanted it to. Probably should have thrown some different pitches than the ones I threw on those base hits. (It was) just wrong pitches at the wrong time."

Senior Brent Brownlee who had not recorded a hit since February 25 due to an injury gave the Bulldogs an insurance run.

Brownlee pinch hit for Fullerton in the seventh and managed to single to left field driving in Frost.

It was a little cooler (Friday)," Brownlee said of the weather affecting him coming off the bench. "I wish it was 70 degrees like it's been other nights. (With) Pinch-hitting, you just got to be in the zone and get mentally prepared for it."

Brownlee is a guy that Cohen wants out there and he was glad he got to use him.

"We tried to get something out of him," Cohen said. "He is one of our best defenders. You can hand him an at-bat when it matters."

Senior Caleb Reed recorded the nine-out save for his seventh of the year. He gave up only two hits and no runs. He faced 11 batters and struck out three.

Frazier, Rea, Norris and Frost each recorded two hits.

MSU improved to 19-11 overall and 4-6 in SEC play. The Bulldogs picked up a game on the four teams in front of them in the West as it all lost.

The Bulldogs are back in action today for game two of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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