9:30 a.m. – Ole Miss vs. Arkansas
1 p.m. – Mississippi State vs. LSU*
4:30 p.m. – Auburn vs. Georgia
8 p.m. – South Carolina vs. Vandy*
HOOVER, Ala. - Against the No. 1 team in the SEC, Mississippi State will go with its No. 1 pitcher.
Junior right-hander Chris Stratton (10-1, 2.16 ERA) will take the mound today when the seventh-seeded Bulldogs (35-21) meet top seed LSU (42-14) in the second round of the SEC Tournament at Regions Park.
Stratton (10-1, 2.16 ERA) last pitched on Thursday, going 61/3 innings in a win over Kentucky. He'll be going on short rest for the second consecutive week.
Stratton met with pitching coach Butch Thompson after MSU's 9-1 win over Arkansas on Tuesday, and they quickly confirmed that the Tupelo product could throw today. Stratton went through the same routine as last week and, per head coach John Cohen, is "very comfortable" with pitching today.
"Chris said, 'Oh yeah, I'm excited,'" Thompson said. "That's all I needed to hear."
The first time Stratton faced LSU, on March 16, he struck out 17 in 82/3 innings. But the Tigers won 3-2 in 10 innings.
LSU will start freshman Aaron Nola (6-4, 4.03).
Missing the fastball
Ole Miss was aggressive early in counts, often swinging at the first pitch in Tuesday's 2-0 loss to Kentucky.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said he wanted to give his players opportunities in advantage counts as opposed to trying to get it done with two strikes.
"Through our first 16 at-bats we had first-pitch fastballs 13 times. We swung at a lot of them but weren't able to barrel them up," he said.
Bianco said the fastballs from Kentucky freshman A.J. Reed had lots of movement and tended to run away from right-handers.
"We hit a lot of balls off the end of the bat, and I think that comes from pressing a little bit and trying to do too much," he said.
The Rebels were 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
Reed said the swing-early strategy settled him down.
"I think the first five innings, the first pitch of the inning they swung at. The first pitch they're swinging, so I know I'm going to pound the zone, let them swing at it and let my defense work. They're going to get themselves out if I throw strikes for them to hit," he said.
MSU shortstop Adam Frazier was 3 of 4 with a walk, and reached base as the leadoff hitter four times. But nobody ever knocked him home.
He had an impact in other ways, particularly on defense. Frazier made two highlight plays, one to start an inning-ending double play in the seventh as State clung to a 3-1 lead. On that play, he fielded a grounder near second base and flipped the ball straight out of his glove to second baseman Matthew Britton.
"The one up the middle, I knew that was a quick guy, so I felt that was the only play I had, and Britton did a great job turning it," said Frazier, who recently was invited to play for Team USA this summer.
"It was a remarkable play, and really I thought jumpstarted us a little bit from a defensive standpoint," Cohen said.
Solid effort for Wahl
Pitching on short rest, albeit five days since his start last Thursday at Vanderbilt, Bobby Wahl went six innings with six hits, two runs, two walks and six strikeouts.
He's given up only two runs in each of his last four starts but his 1-2 with a no-decision against LSU during that span.
After allowing a home run to Reed in the fourth, Wahl pitched out of trouble in the fifth, stranding two runners. He gave up leadoff walk in the sixth, and Luke Maile came around to score on a one-out hit by Cameron Flynn.
Wahl got a ground ball and a strikeout to limit the damage end the sixth and limit the damage to one run.
Tanner Bailey gave up no runs and one hit in two relief innings.
"I just had to come in and give my team a chance to win, try to locate my pitches and compete," Wahl said. "It just wasn't enough today. That's baseball, and you have to bounce back and come back tomorrow."