And he did it despite two delays and a total six-hour weather wait for the chance to throw the first pitch. Not the easiest way to spend a day, but Stratton took it all in stride. “Coach just told me to be mentally ready at all times. It didn’t really effect me, I just tried to go out there and win a ball game.”
Which Stratton did, recording 6.2 innings on a blustery evening. He allowed Georgia State just two base hits, singles in the second and fifth turns, and struck out four. Stratton did issue an uncharacteristic five walks, perhaps pitching more cautiously than normal for him out of concern over the prevailing-to-right wind. The Panthers were also willing to take pitches and made Stratton come after them in hopes of seeing something they could drive.
“You just had to make sure you kept the ball down and didn’t let them get one up in the air,” Stratton said. “I just had trouble locating sometimes but I tried to battle through it.” His battles required 112 pitches, though he said he was still in good shape into the seventh. “That’s how much I usually throw, so as strong as ever I guess!”
Caleb Reed replaced the starter with two outs and two on in the seventh, and State leading 5-1 at the time. He struck out pinch-hitter Daniel Blaustein to end that threat and put in 2.1 hitless, scoreless innings with two strikeouts and no walks. Reed picked up a third save in the process.
GSU starter Nick Sqegila (1-1) took the loss on 5.0 full innings, charged with the first four Bulldog runson four hits with seven walks and four strikeouts. Sqeglia got off to a nice start with two scoreless innings and opened his third with an out. But that brought the top of MSU’s order back up and a walk of 2B Nick Vickerson opened the door. He stole his way to second, and RF C.T. Bradford took advantage with a base hit over the centerfielder for the RBI.
An inning later Bradford was back up, this time with SS Jonathan Ogden and Vickerson on bases and two outs. The freshman knocked a base hit through the right side for a 3-0 lead.
Stratton had retired six-straight into the fifth when Brandon Williams reached on a single. He advanced on a grounder, then a wild pitch, and scored on a bouncer to second base. That snapped a five-game, over two seasons, scoreless streak for Stratton of 28 innings. “I shouldn’t have given up that leadoff hit. Runs are going to happen but you try to limit them as much as you can.”
Which he did by erasing a sixth-inning walk on his pickoff of the runner, the second time Stratton caught a Panther leading too far. He was two outs into the seventh when a pair off walks ended the stint.
Meanwhile State padded the lead with a pair in their sixth. This time it was C Cody Freeman collecting a pair of RBI with his base hit off Jeremy Gazerro scoring CF Jaron Shepherd and Vickerson. In the MSU seventh it was Zach Chastain battered for three more runs. With runners on corners 2B Sam Frost dragged a bunt up the first base line plating 1B Ryan Collins. Shepherd stole third and came on home as the throw there was errored. Vickerson also benefited from an errant Panther throw, though his came after a deep drive to centerfield for a triple.
The relay from second base missed everyone and Vickerson made the round trip for the final MSU margin. Vickerson and Bradford both had two hits, though the former scored four times himself while Bradford drove in three runs.
State improved to 9-2 going into Saturday’s late game with Iowa. Georgia State is also 9-2.