Stratton’s struggles continue for State

OXFORD – Chris Stratton showed promise last year as an SEC starter. This season, he’s rarely pitched like one.
The sophomore from Tupelo had the shortest outing of his career in Mississippi State’s 12-3 loss to Ole Miss on Saturday. Stratton recorded only two outs, giving up six runs – three earned – on five hits before being yanked.
In nine SEC starts this season, Stratton (5-6) has allowed 61 hits in 44 innings and has an ERA of 7.36. Three weeks into the league schedule, his ERA was 3.04.
Stratton seemed to regain his form last week at Tennessee, allowing two runs on six hits in 52⁄3 innings. But he was all over the place Saturday, walking two of the 10 batters he faced and throwing 38 pitches.
Coach John Cohen gave Stratton a vote of confidence after the game.
“He’s a talented young man, and right now it’s just not happening every time out. … It’s hard to run away from a kid who’s that talented and gives you the kind of effort that he does.”

Bianco shuffles lineup
– Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco decided to shake up his infield after dropping the first two games. Regular shortstop Blake Newalu started at second base; second baseman Alex Yarbrough was moved to third; and Austin Anderson went from third to short.
Yarbrough committed the Rebels’ lone error, but he had four hits and scored four runs.
Anderson has been a semi-regular starter: This was his 17th start of the season, 11th in SEC play. And Newalu was moved down in the order, from second to ninth, where he delivered a two-run single in the first inning.
“I’m not worried about fielding ground balls, but defensive plays in crucial situations,” Bianco said.

Sweeps avoided
– Ole Miss kept MSU from making some sweeping history.
The Bulldogs were aiming for back-to-back SEC road sweeps for the first time since 2003 and their first season sweep of Ole Miss since 1997. State also was trying to earn its third SEC sweep of the season, which hasn’t happened since 1992 – unless you count 2000, when one of the sweeps was a shortened two-game series against Kentucky.
Prior to this game, MSU had gone 6-0 against the Rebels this year in the big three sports. State has never swept in all three before.

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Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

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