Stratton shuts out Rebels in opener

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Another SEC team has been introduced to – and victimized by – the new Chris Stratton.
Mississippi State’s junior right-hander handcuffed No. 18 Ole Miss, tossing a complete-game five-hitter as the Bulldogs won 4-0 on Friday night in front of 5,212 at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU (26-16, 9-10 SEC) will go for the series win at 2 p.m. today.
Stratton (8-0), a Tupelo product, tossed his first career shutout, striking out seven and walking one on 104 pitches.
“It’s fun to coach when you get to coach elite players doing elite things,” MSU coach John Cohen said. “I didn’t watch every college baseball game that was going on tonight, but I can tell you this: It’s hard to imagine there are a lot of pitching performances like that going on in this country.”
After issuing a walk to lead off the game, Stratton retired the next 10 Rebels. He worked around a one-out double by Alex Yarbrough in the fourth and needed only 11 pitches combined to get through the fifth and sixth innings.
Stratton set Ole Miss (27-15, 9-10) down in order five times. Yarbrough led off the seventh with a single, but Matt Snyder hit into a double play.
Last season, Ole Miss tagged Stratton for six runs and chased him after just two-thirds of an inning.
“He’s a completely new pitcher,” said Yarbrough, who had three hits. “He’s made great strides, and he might be the best we’ve faced this year.”
Stratton let two runners reach in the ninth and got a visit from Cohen.
“Coach asked me if I had any more gas left. I said, ‘Heck yeah. I’ve got plenty of gas left.’ I was finishing the game no matter what,” Stratton said.
The first hit for either squad was Adam Frazier’s two-out single in the third, and he took two bases on a wild pitch. Then Mitch Slauter’s grounder was mishandled by Ole Miss SS Austin Anderson, and Frazier scored for a 1-0 lead.
Daryl Norris then looped an RBI single to right-center to score Slauter, who in the fifth had an RBI single.
Ole Miss starter Bobby Wahl (5-1) allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits, walked two and struck out seven in six innings.
“He has a lot of big misses. He’s inconsistently in and out of the zone,” Slauter said. “We just wanted to do a good job of taking those big misses and hitting the pitches that are in the strike zone.”
Brent Brownlee’s double to the wall in left-center made it 4-0 in the seventh. MSU collected five hits.
brad.locke@journalinc.com

Video interview below with Chris Stratton on DJournal.com Web site version.