By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Chris Stratton has done this plenty of times, but it was a new experience for Jonathan Holder.
Stratton, a junior, did the bulk of the mound work before Holder, a freshman, finally shut the door on Mississippi State’s 3-1 win over Alabama at Sewell-Thomas Field on Friday. It was the seventh win in eight games for MSU (28-17, 11-11 SEC), which will go for the series victory at 2 p.m. today.
Stratton (9-0) tossed seven shutout innings, allowing seven hits with six strikeouts. After that, it took four relievers to bridge the gap to the final out, with normal closer Caleb Reed getting pulled with one out in the ninth.
After Jacob Lindgren allowed a single, Holder came in with runners at the corners and induced a game-ending double play ball for his second save, first in the SEC.
“That’s the first time I ever really got to do something that big,” Holder said.
It was the Bulldogs’ league-leading 53rd double play of the season, and it’s exactly what they were going for on that at-bat by nine-hole hitter James Tullidge.
“Every time he gets the ball he just does an unbelievable job,” MSU coach John Cohen said of Holder. “We’ve got to get him in more opportunities like that.”
The first SEC pitcher to nine wins this season, Stratton became the 12th different Bulldog to surpass the 100-strikeout mark in a season – he has 101 now.
Alabama (17-29, 6-16) got on his fastball early in the game, but the Tupelo product found the right pitches at the right time to work through it.
“Been there, done that,” Stratton said. “It’s just one of those things, I’ve been here, and I have a lot of confidence in our catcher and everything that he calls.”
Alabama out-hit State 11-7. The Crimson Tide didn’t get on the board until the eighth, when Ben Moore stroked an RBI single off reliever Ross Mitchell. Moore, Taylor Dugas and Josh Rosecrans had two hits each.
MSU used a Trey Porter hit-by-pitch, wild pitch, balk and Darryl Norris groundout to score the game’s first run in the fourth. Starter Spencer Turnbull (2-4) looked very much like a freshman that inning.
State added two more in the fifth, which began with Tyler Fullerton’s leadoff double to right field. He scored on Adam Frazier’s infield single, and Mitch Slauter’s sac fly made it 3-0.
Frazier and Fullerton had two hits apiece.
Turnbull allowed three runs on seven hits in 52/3 innings, striking out two and walking one.