Recapping MSU’s 3-1 win over Alabama at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Friday night.
• The buzz: Not surprisingly, junior right-hander Chris Stratton turned in a strong outing, although he had to grind a bit. The bullpen got a good bit of work but ultimately got the job done, although it wasn’t Caleb Reed getting the final out. And hey, there was some offense, plenty to support this pitching staff anyway. MSU (28-17, 11-11 SEC) has won seven of its last eight games.
• Big inning: State put two on the board in the fifth for a 3-0 lead. It started with Tyler Fullerton‘s leadoff double to the wall in right field, and he moved to third on Sam Frost‘s single. Adam Frazier‘s infield single scored Fullerton, and a Mitch Slauter sac fly to the warning track in left-center brought in Frost.
• Key stats: Alabama stranded eight base runners – one each in every inning but the fourth. That inning, Austen Smith singled but was caught stealing. … Neither team committed an error. … MSU turned one double play – to end the game. It has an SEC-leading 53 on the season.
• MSU at the plate: MSU collected seven hits. … Fullerton had two hits and scored a run before being lifted in the eighth in favor of Brandon Woodruff. … Frazier had two hits and an RBI. He’s recorded 20 multi-hit games this year. … Daryl Norris drove in a run in the fourth on a groundout. Trey Porter scored after getting hit by a pitch, advancing to second on a wild pitch and then to third on a balk.
• Alabama at the plate: The Tide (17-29, 6-16) had 11 hits. … Taylor Dugas, Ben Moore and Josh Rosecrans had two hits apiece. … Moore drove in Bama’s lone run in the eighth with a single off reliever Ross Mitchell.
• MSU on the mound: Alabama had a few hard-hit balls off Stratton (9-0), but he worked around what little trouble he faced. The junior right-hander threw seven shutout innings, allowing seven hits while fanning six and walking none. He threw 106 pitches, and his ERA fell to 2.01. … Freshman Jonathan Holder faced one batter and got James Tullidge to ground into the game-ending DP. It was Holder’s second save, first in the SEC. … After Mitchell got two outs and gave up a run, closer Caleb Reed entered, but he was pulled with one out in the ninth. Jacob Lindgren faced one batter, allowing a single.
• Alabama on the mound: Starter Spencer Turnbull (2-4), a freshman, gave up three runs (all earned) on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He had two strikeouts, one walk, one hit batsmen, one wild pitch and one balk. Those last three stats happened in the fourth and helped State score its first run, as Daryl Norris drove in Trey Porter with a groundout. … Reliever Chazz Otwell tossed the final 3 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on no hits, striking out four and walking one.
• Bottom line: This is a series MSU needs to win, and it’s off to a fine start. The offense showed up more than it has at times, with the bottom three hitters – Brent Brownlee, Fullerton and Frost – going a combined 4 of 11. Game 2 is at 2 p.m. Saturday.
• Quotable: “The secret is out. On Friday night in the SEC, they’re just not going to get to two strikes. They’re going to take weaker swings and put balls in play, and he’s going to be a little more economic with his pitches instead of getting to two strikes and allowing Strat to strike them out.” – MSU coach John Cohen, on Stratton