Friday nights in the Southeastern Conference are special events if you’re a fan of college baseball.
Mississippi State fans were treated to a gem on Friday night with Chris Stratton turning in his first complete game of the season, blanking Ole Miss 4-0.
The Tupelo native held the SEC’s top offensive team to just five hits after entering the contest batting at a .313 clip.
“It is fun to coach when you get to coach elite players doing elite things,” said MSU head coach John Cohen. “I didn’t watch every game that was going on (Friday night), but it is hard to imagine there were a lot of pitching performances like that.”
State (26-16, 9-10) held a 4-0 lead entering the final frame when Ole Miss had a pair of runners reach base, which prompted a visit to the mound from Cohen.
“I went out there in the ninth and asked, ‘how much do you have left in the tank?'" said Cohen. “He said ‘I’m fine,’ as if he were one of my daughters that was telling me to leave her room. There was a lot of force in his voice to say, ‘I’ve got this.’ That’s the man he’s become.”
The Bulldogs opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the third with a two-out rally started by a single from shortstop Adam Frazier. Moments later Frazier was standing on third after a two-base wild pitch from Ole Miss starter Bobby Wahl. Mitch Slauter then delivered a slow roller that was mishandled by Rebel shortstop Austin Anderson allowing Frazier to give State the 1-0 lead.
“I told myself that I wasn’t going to get beat with two strikes,” Slauter said. “I wanted to put the ball in play and make them make a play.”
The inning continued with a Trey Porter single to right that allowed Slauter to reach third and Daryl Norris hit a blooper to right scoring Slauter for the early 2-0 lead.
State was back to work on the offensive end in the fifth when Sam Frost picked up a leadoff walk followed by a Frazier sacrifice bunt and a Slauter RBI single to right scoring Frost from second base.
State chased Wahl from the game after six complete where he allowed four runs on three hits.
“Our goal with Wahl was to get him to 100 pitches as quick as possible,” said Cohen. “Wahl is on a little bit of a different level.”
In the seventh, State added an insurance run when Hunter Renfroe opened the frame reaching on an error setting the table for Oxford native Brent Brownlee to pick up the RBI with a double to the wall in left center field.
Alex Yarbrough continues to swing a hot bat for the Rebels going 3-for-4 and raising his batting average to .436 for the season. The Ole Miss second baseman was the only player for either team to have a multi-hit outing.
The Bulldogs send SEC Pitcher of the Week Kendall Graveman to the hill looking to pick up the series clinching victory today. First pitch is slated for 2:05 p.m. and will be televised on SportsSouth.