Mississippi State's Chris Stratton (28) gets ready to deliver a pitch against Ole Miss Friday night at Dudy Noble Field. (Bill Simmonds, For Starkville Daily News)
A year ago Mississippi State pitcher Chris Stratton could not get out of the first inning against in-state rival Ole Miss.
On Friday night, Stratton pitched all nine and the Bulldogs won 4-0 at Dudy Noble Field.
"New year, I guess," Stratton said of the difference in this year's outing against Ole Miss. "(It was) just better stuff and (having) more confidence in myself."
The Bulldogs (26-16, 9-10) lost game three of last year's series 12-3.
Stratton (8-0) gave up only five hits, had seven strikeouts and walked a batter on 104 pitches.
Stratton took the mound in the ninth inning with the top of the lineup due up for the Rebels.
Tanner Mathis led off with a single, but Stratton struck out Austin Anderson.
Alex Yarbrough singled for his third hit of the game putting runners on first and second.
MSU head coach made a mound visit to check on his pitcher.
"I felt great at the end of the game," Stratton said. "Coach (Cohen) came up and asked me 'if I had any more gas left?' 'I said heck yea, I have got plenty of gas left.' I was finishing the game no matter what."
Stratton did finish it and got clean up hitter Matt Synder to ground into a 6-4-3 game-ending double play.
On the other side, Ole Miss (27-15, 9-10) sent Bobby Wahl (5-1) to the hill, but Wahl only lasted six innings, giving up three runs on four hits.
"It's a huge rivalry and Wahl is an unbelievable pitcher," Stratton said. "He pitched really good (Friday) until a couple of innings there."
Junior catcher Mitch Slauter loves catching Stratton on Friday nights and this is one night he was glad he was behind the plate.
"It's fun every Friday night with the atmosphere and the end of the week," Slauter said. "Chris is exceptional. He is a fun guy to catch every week."
Stratton faced no more than four batters in an inning and had a five-pitch fifth inning and a six-pitch sixth inning. He also had five 1-2-3 innings.
"I used to be terrible with pitches," Stratton said. "(I) just really turned the page and having a lot of fun out there."
Stratton came into the game with 88 strikeouts, third best in the country and second best in the Southeastern Conference. He now has 95 strikeouts.
The Bulldogs and Rebels are back at it today for a 2:05 p.m. first pitch, which will be televised by SportSouth.
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