West Jones High will roll into Brandon on Thursday with a target on its back. The Mustangs moved into the top 10 in Baseball America’s new prep rankings, up to No. 9 from 16th on April 3. West Jones (22-1) is the only state school in the Top 25. MaxPreps ranks West Jones fourth in Mississippi, behind Madison Central, Northwest Rankin and Gulfport. Brandon (20-6) is No. 6. The Mustangs are led by dual threat Dustin Dickerson, who is batting .371 with three homers and 19 RBIs and is 6-0 with a 0.30 ERA as a pitcher. Evan Bynum is also 6-0 with a 0.81. Kris Riley leads the team with four bombs, Colson Harris with 19 RBIs and sophomore Sam Hill with a .411 average. The Mustangs’ only loss is to Hattiesburg, fifth in the MaxPreps poll. Brandon features state player of the year candidate J.T. Ginn, who is batting .460 with nine homers and carries a 4-0, 0.55 pitching ledger.
Brandon High’s J.T. Ginn struck out the last batter in the ninth inning on Sunday as Team USA claimed gold in the Under 18 World Cup in Canada. Ginn pitched a perfect ninth in the 8-0 victory over Korea, calling it the “best moment of my life” on Twitter. A prep All-American in 2017 and a Mississippi State commit, Ginn worked 3 1/3 innings in four appearances in the tournament and allowed no hits and no runs with six strikeouts and two walks. Team USA went 9-0 in the World Cup, which it won for the fourth straight time.
Northwest Rankin High, which is on a 17-1 roll, has broken into Baseball America’s new Top 25, checking in at No. 20. The Class 6A Cougars, who have a game tonight at Starkville, haven’t lost since March 7, when they fell 2-1 in extra innings to Germantown. They notched two big wins over rival Madison Central on March 31 and April 2. Acy Owen leads NWR in hitting at .500, and Ian Ladner is at .442 with four homers and Damione Granger .333 with 15 RBIs. On the bump, Hunter Smith is 5-0 with a 0.40 ERA and Cannon Gibbs 4-0, 0.33. … Brandon is 25th in BA’s latest poll; DeSoto Central, which lost three of four in the National High School Invitational late last month, dropped out.
DeSoto Central High bounced back from an opening round loss (to Whitewater of Georgia) to whip Trinity Prep of Florida 10-0 on Thursday in the National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C. Tre Spann drove in four runs, Austin Riley knocked in a pair and Keegen James threw a three-hitter over six innings. The Jaguars (10-5) are scheduled to play Lambert, Ga., today in the NHSI consolation bracket. DeSoto is ranked No. 21 in the latest Baseball America poll, which has Brandon at No. 24. The Bulldogs (12-1) are No. 23 in the MaxPreps poll. Brandon, facing a big game today against defending Class 6A champion Oak Grove, has gotten great production from Hunter Wilson, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound senior first baseman who is batting .400 with five home runs and 27 RBIs.
DeSoto Central High, arguably the best prep team in the state, will participate in the National High School Invitational hosted by USA Baseball from March 25-28 at Cary, N.C. DeSoto Central, 28-10 and Class 6A runner-up (to Oak Grove) last year, is ranked 14th in Baseball America’s preseason poll and is currently No. 24 in MaxPreps’ rankings. The Jaguars will play Whitewater High of Fayetteville, Ga., in the NHSI, a 16-team event being held for the fourth time. DeSoto is the first Mississippi school invited. The Jags’ Austin Riley, a Mississippi State signee, may be the best player in the state. He went 8-3, 1.51 as a pitcher and batted .465 with nine homers as a third baseman in 2014. … Brandon, a 6A semifinalist last season led by outfielder Erick Hoard, is No. 22 in BA’s preseason poll. That’s two Magnolia State schools among the nation’s top 22 — another feather in the state’s baseball cap. … Mississippi did not have a player make Baseball America’s preseason All-America teams, which are selected by MLB scouting directors. But, Ke’Bryan Hayes of Texas, a first-team pick at third base, has a Mississippi connection. The Tennessee signee is the son of Hattiesburg native Charlie Hayes, the longtime MLB star who won a World Series ring with the New York Yankees in 1996. … Still can’t get over the numbers Jackson Prep’s Gene Wood, a Louisville Slugger All-America pick, put up for the MAIS state champs in 2014: .596 average, 68 runs and 52 RBIs – in 36 games! The Alabama signee has certainly set the bar high for himself this year.