Not Rebels' Night

STARKVILLE -Three hits, two singles and a double, by Alex Yarbrough weren't nearly enough as the rest of the Ole Miss Rebels combined for only two singles against Mississippi State ace Chris Stratton in a 4-0 Bulldog win Friday night.

Follow SpiritJeff on Twitter

Yarbrough, the Rebels' leading hitter with a .436 average and currently second in the Southeastern Conference, said Stratton was too effective for Ole Miss on this night.

"He was throwing all three pitches around the zone all night, and all three are really plus pitches," Yarbrough said. "His fast ball's got great life on it. The changeup was good, too, especially to lefties. And that slider, he was all around the zone with it all night, had great late action to righties. I'm glad I'm left-handed because I didn't want to have to hit that right-handed. Even to lefties, I swung at it and missed at it twice when he throws it at your back foot there."

A solid showing by Rebel starter Bobby Wahl was overshadowed by the Tupelo High product. Wahl went six innings, allowing only one earned run (although three were scored while he pitched) with seven strikeouts and two walks. Even Wahl respected Stratton's winning performance.

"I did alright but I didn't do good enough," he said. "It was one of those nights where Chris Stratton was great. Tip your hat to him. He did a great job."

Yarbrough said the only way to approach Stratton was to keep swinging.

"You've got to stay aggressive. We put some good swings on it, but we made a lot of outs early in the count. There's not a lot you can do about that. If you start getting defensive, especially against a guy who's around the zone all night like that, you're really going to get yourself in trouble."

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco agreed with his players after his team fell to 27-15 and 9-10 in the SEC.

"The story of the game was Stratton," Bianco said. "He was tremendous tonight. He gave us very little if any opportunities."

Ole Miss was the first to flinch, and in a game of great pitchers, that's often the team that loses. State scored two runs with two outs in the third inning. Adam Frazier singled and a wild pitch to Mitch Slauter allowed Frazier to get all the way to third.

Slauter reached on an error by shortstop Austin Anderson. Frazier scored, and that would ultimately be enough runs for MSU. Daryl Norris singled to score Slauter, and it was 2-0.

MSU (26-16, 9-10) added runs in the fifth and seventh. Ole Miss got a runner to third base only once all night – a double in the fourth by Yarbrough and a Matt Snyder ground out that moved him over. Ole Miss had runners in scoring position only three times in the game.

Yarbrough said Stratton is not the same pitcher he's seen before.

"He was great. He's made great strides," he said. "I got to hit off him last year and then in the summer up in the Cape (Cod). He's a completely new pitcher. He might be the best we've faced so far this year."

Yarbrough said the Rebels can't feel the pressure of having to win two straight to take the series. They have to focus on the early part of Saturday's 2 p.m. game at this point.

"I don't know if it's any added pressure," he said of the loss. "We've got to come out and take every game the same way pretty much. We've got to come out and we've got to be the ones to deliver the first blow tomorrow."

OM Spirit Top Stories