You don’t have to be a sabermetrician to figure out that this weekend’s Jackson State-Mississippi Valley State series doesn’t favor the host Delta Devils. JSU, which sits atop the SWAC East at 12-3, leads the league in batting. Valley ranks last. JSU leads the league in ERA. Valley ranks last (with a 9.40!). And yet, the Delta Devils have managed to scare up six wins in 12 conference games, including one against the Tigers in Jackson last month. So maybe the stuff on paper won’t mean that much when the two old rivals hit Magnolia Field in Itta Bena, where they’re slated for single games today, Saturday and Sunday. Still, it’s hard to get away from the numbers. JSU trots out a lineup that features the SWAC’s leading hitter, Raul Hernandez (.398), and several others over .300. (Valley has one.) The Tigers’ Jesus Santana is one of the top sluggers in the conference with eight homers and 33 RBIs. (Valley has three homers total.) JSU’s Kevin Perez tops the SWAC in wins with seven and Jose Tirado in saves with nine. (Valley has eight wins all told.) What the Delta Devils could use is another Aaron Barkley or two. (Or three.) The sophomore catcher from California is the team’s lone .300 hitter (at .303) and also carries a 1.59 ERA with a win and two saves in nine relief appearances. Go get ’em.
It was a night of firsts, some more significant than others, for Mississippians in the majors. Ole Miss alum Zack Cozart sat Thursday for the first time this season and watched as his Los Angeles Angels teammates beat Kansas City 7-1 to improve to an MLB-best 11-3. Cozart is hitting .254 with a five-game hitting streak for his new club. … Adam Frazier, the Mississippi State product, hit his first home run of the season in Pittsburgh’s 6-1 win against the Chicago Cubs. Frazier is batting .292 for the first-place Pirates. … Mike Mayers, the ex-Ole Miss star just recalled from the minors by St. Louis, registered his first career save by tossing three shutout innings in the Cardinals’ 13-4 rout of Cincinnati. … Last but hardly least, former Mississippi State standout Chris Stratton notched his first win of 2018 with seven scoreless innings for San Francisco in a 7-0 victory against San Diego. It was a career-long outing for Stratton, who whacked his ERA to 2.60. P.S. In the minors, former DeSoto Central High star Austin Riley blasted his first two homers of the year for the Mississippi Braves in a 6-5 loss at Biloxi’s MGM Park. Riley, a highly rated Atlanta prospect, is hitting .346 with eight RBIs in his second Double-A stint.