By Paul Jones/Special to the Journal
STARKVILLE – Under normal circumstances Mississippi State head coach John Cohen would have called for a sacrifice bunt. But that wasn’t the case Friday night against Kansas and not calling for a bunt paid huge dividends.
In a scoreless game in the bottom of the ninth, MSU’s C.T Bradford led off the inning with a walk. Cohen then called for a hit and run with freshman Wes Rea at the plate and Rea delivered with a walkoff RBI double.
The Bulldog first baseman sent Tanner Poppe’s pitch to the left-field wall as Bradford circled the bases for a 1-0 Bulldog victory in front of 2,080 fans at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs moved to 3-1 on the season while Kansas left the field with the same record.
“Wes has such tremendous baseball instincts for a guy that has never played at this level,” said Cohen. “You know, it is hard to bunt a guy that is 6-6 and weighs 290 pounds.”
For Rea, it was a successful ending to what started as a tough night at the plate.
“It was a fastball in and they’d been beating me there all night,” Rea said. “I had struck out twice on the same pitch and then Coach Cohen put a hit and run on to free me up. He thought my swing was getting too long during the game so he gave me a hit and run.”
MSU starting pitcher Ben Bracewell allowed no runs and just two hits with three strikeouts in his three innings of work. But Bracewell did walk four and that led to an early exit after three innings.
MSU junior and Tupelo native Chris Stratton opened the fourth for the Diamond Dawgs and was solid right off the bat. Stratton (2-0) was nearly perfect in his six innings of work, allowing just one hit and one walk while fanning eight Jayhawks.
“Oh man, (Stratton) was spectacular,” Cohen said. “He has really turned the corner in a lot of ways.”
The Bulldogs return to action Saturday with a doubleheader at Dudy Noble Field. MSU will face Mississippi Valley State at noon followed by a second weekend meeting with Kansas at 4 p.m.
Wahl cruises for Ole Miss
OXFORD – Bobby Wahl turned in a career day as he worked 7 innings of scoreless ball, holding UNC-Wilmington to one hit and striking out nine as Ole Miss shut out the Seahawks 2-0 on Friday.
Wahl (2-0) picked up the win in the series opener tuning in a career-high in both innings pitched and strikeouts.
Ole Miss struck first, pushing a single run across the plate in the third inning when Alex Yarbrough came up with a single to shallow center that scored Tanner Mathis from second.
The Rebels got an insurance run in the seventh inning, when Auston Bousfield drove in Mathis on an RBI single to right field.