When Mississippi State coach John Cohen moved sophomore right-hander Chris Stratton from the Saturday to the Friday starting spot a few weeks ago, the only significant concern Cohen had was that Stratton wouldn't get a chance to scout the opponent first-hand before taking to the mound. That could have been a reason Stratton struggled in that spot.
He was moved to Sunday for the Tennessee series, and what do you know, he tosses 5 2/3 innings of six-hit ball, allowing just two runs while striking out nine and walking none. Stratton said getting to study Tennessee's hitters helped a lot.
"They seemed to swing at a lot of stuff, swing at everything," Stratton said. "I just filled up the zone, and they would kind of swing at it, force early contact. That's what we're trying to do; that's what we've been trying to do all year."
Said Cohen, "When he has the ability to sit there and watch a lineup go through two days, I think it really helps him. He's a very cerebral kid."
As I wrote in today's Journal, the Bulldogs (29-18, 11-13 SEC) seem to have found something with their starting rotation of Luis Pollorena, Nick Routt and Stratton. This weekend will provide a sterner test at Ole Miss.
A lot is riding on the series with the Rebels (27-21, 11-13). I asked Stratton what he thought about the possibility of being on the mound in a decisive Game 3 on Saturday (the series begins Thursday).
"I hadn't thought about that yet," he said. "I'm trying to go game by game. It would be nice to be the one to put it away or get us out ahead. I just like where we're at right now."
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