Millsaps College’s postseason path will start in Rome, Ga., on Thursday in the Berry bracket, one of the Southern Athletic Association’s two mini-tournaments. The Majors (22-17, 10-11 SAA) concluded their conference schedule in grand fashion, blasting Centre 21-10 Sunday on the road. After a Maloney Trophy Series game against Belhaven on Tuesday at Twenty Field, the Majors will shift their full attention to Birmingham-Southern. Fifth-seeded Millsaps lost two of three last month to fourth-seeded BSC (21-14, 11-10). Berry (25-11, 15-4) won the SAA regular season title and is the top seed. No. 2 Rhodes is hosting the other four-team bracket. Jim Page’s Majors last made the NCAA Division III Tournament in 2015. They’ll have to get through the double-elimination Berry bracket and then a best-of-3 league championship series to get there this season. An at-large bid appears unlikely. Andy Page is the Majors’ leading hitter at .401 and has a team-best 41 runs. Chase Callaway, a .321 hitter, leads in RBIs with 27. Several others stepped up on Sunday with some big numbers: Cavan Breland (3-for-7, five RBIs), Jimmy Johnstone (three RBIs) and Wes Lassere (four runs). The team’s top arms include Jacob Mardick (2-4, 3.74 ERA, two saves in 15 games) and Barret Kaul (4-3, 4.18 in 11). … The Majors already have clinched the Maloney Trophy, having beaten D-III rival Belhaven in the first two games. The Blazers will bring an 11-21 mark into the game.
With nine wins in its first 12 games and three straight blowout victories, Millsaps College heads into its first conference series of the year riding a wave of positivity. The Majors, who host Rhodes in Southern Athletic Association play at Twenty Field this weekend, have scored at least 11 runs in their last three games, including an 11-2 win against local rival Belhaven University on Tuesday. Brennan Ducote, a junior from Lafayette, La., has been the main masher, with a .500 average, two homers, 14 RBIs and 11 runs. He hit .279 with one homer last year. Jimmy Johnstone is batting .429 and former Northwest Rankin High star Chase Callaway .386 for the Majors, hitting .314 as a team. Connor Haynes is 3-0 with a 0.73 ERA on the bump. The Majors went 19-23 in 2017 after a 20-21 finish the year before, uncharacteristic campaigns for an NCAA Division III program that has won 64 percent of its games since Jim Page became the coach in 1989.
14 – Pitchers used by Millsaps College in going 1-2 in the Millsaps Invitational over the weekend. Daniel Ross went 5 1/3 innings against LaGrange on Friday to get the lone win.
13 – RBIs by Pearl River Community College’s Carter Hankins in six games over the weekend. The Wildcats (8-2) won five of the six.
11 – Runs in six games this season by Mississippi College’s Logan Ferrell.
10 – RBIs in seven games for Delta State’s Will Robertson.
9 – Losses to start the season for Tougaloo College.
8 – Road games scheduled to start the season for Belhaven University, which opens today against Huntingdon in Montgomery, Ala.
4 – Wins in four games to start Chris Kirtland’s coaching career at Jones County Junior College.
2 – Wins in two starts for William Carey University’s J.D. Little, who has a 1.38 ERA.
1 – Home run on Friday by Mississippi Gulf Coast CC’s Brian Lane, the first at Biloxi’s MGM Park for the Bulldogs.
Millsaps College will play at Twenty Field this weekend without Keith Shumaker for the first time in five years. The Majors, hosting the three-team Millsaps Invitational, play LaGrange on Friday in their home opener. They went 1-2 in a tournament in Alabama last weekend. Shumaker, the team’s best all-around hitter and pitcher in 2015, was the Southern Athletic Association player of the year and an NCAA Division III All-America as a senior, leading the Majors to a 29-14 finish and an at-large berth in the D-III regionals. Among the familiar faces in purple and white this season is coach Jim Page, who typically finds a way to win. He has 701 career W’s. Page has some experienced talent back in the fold in Isaac Glenn, an All-America candidate who hit .425 last year; Andy Page, .331 in 2015 as a freshman; and Lee Ogletree, .305 last year. Those three combined for nine hits in an 11-7 romp against Southwestern last weekend. P.S. In case you missed it, Rust College opened its season last weekend at Loyola-New Orleans with three losses. The Bearcats, who play in NCAA D-III, were outscored by the NAIA Wolf Pack 54-8.
Delta State junior Jacob Swiney was named to the Preseason All-Gulf South Conference squad announced on Wednesday. The Biloxi native, also cited as a top player in NCAA Division II by Collegiate Baseball, batted .396 with three home runs and 35 RBIs last season, making All-GSC first team. Junior college transfer pitchers Dalton Moats and Jacob Howell were listed on the GSC’s top newcomer list. The Statesmen were pegged for a third-place finish in the league. … Mississippi College’s Will Elliott and Perry Turner also made the list of top newcomers in the GSC. Elliott, a junior outfielder from Oxford, is a transfer from Alabama. Turner, a junior pitcher, came in from Jones County Junior College. MC, still in transition to D-II, is not yet eligible for the GSC championship. … Millsaps College outfielder Isaac Glenn was an honorable mention pick on the d3baseball.com preseason All-America team. The junior from Madison hit .436 with 17 doubles and 45 RBIs in 2015. He led the Southern Athletic Association last year in slugging and on-base percentage. … Jackson State had three players named to the Black College Nine preseason All-America team. Third baseman Jesus Santana and DH Sam Campbell were named to the first team and outfielder Lamar Briggs to the second team. Santana led the Tigers and the SWAC with 12 home runs in 2015. … Former USM and MLB standout Chad Bradford will be the keynote speaker at the Southern Miss Dugout Club Banquet on Feb. 6. Bradford played at Byram High School and Hinds Community College before signing with USM. He went 5-4 with a 3.59 earned run average and three saves in 1996, his only season with the Golden Eagles. The submarine-style right-hander, featured in “Moneyball,” pitched for 12 years in the majors, posting a 36-28 overall record with a 3.26 ERA. He served as pitching coach at Hinds CC in 2014-15. … Tougaloo, one of three GCAC schools that play baseball, will be eligible to compete for the Association of Independent Institutions Baseball Championship this year. A total of 15 teams will vie for eight spots and a chance to play for one of the three NAIA Tournament bids given to the tournament champion, runner-up and third-place finisher. The Bulldogs went 7-40 in 2015 in the first year of coach Earl Sanders’ second stint with the program. P.S. Former Mississippi Braves third baseman Wes Timmons is the new coach at Shorter University, which plays in the Gulf South Conference.
There were no walk-off homers, or any homers at all by Mississippi-connected players. Nobody had a bunch of hits or drove in a bunch of runs. No quality starts were delivered, no holds or saves recorded. And yet, Mississippians made their mark in Tuesday’s MLB games, splattering numbers all over the 17 box scores. Twelve Mississippians (natives or college alums) played on Tuesday, and they collectively delivered six hits, five walks, five runs, two steals, a sac fly, a win and 2 2/3 scoreless innings of pitching. The line of the day belongs to Southwest Mississippi Community College product and McComb native Jarrod Dyson. In Kansas City’s 7-1 win over Tampa Bay in Game 2 of a twinbill, Dyson put up a 2-3-1-0 with two walks and a stolen base. P.S. On this date in 1941, Ted Williams hit his legendary three-run, ninth-inning, game-winning home run in the All-Star Game at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. The pitch was delivered by Claude Passeau, one of the greatest pitchers Mississippi has produced. The Waynesboro native and Millsaps College alum, who won 162 games in the big leagues, was working his third inning for the National League and would have been a winner (by a 5-3 score) had a double play been turned before Williams’ at-bat. Hall of Fame broadcaster Red Barber of Columbus called the game for Mutual Radio.
Millsaps College wears purple, which, oddly enough, is the color of royalty but also the color of a bruise. The Majors went into a weekend series at rival Rhodes sitting on the throne in the Southern Athletic Association. They came home late Saturday feeling a little beat up. The Lynx swept the Majors in three games, handing Millsaps as many SAA losses as it had accumulated all season to that point. Birmingham-Southern, at 15-4-1 in the conference with a game to play today, appears to have captured the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference postseason. Millsaps (25-10, 15-6) will still host a four-team tournament next weekend at Twenty Field with a chance to advance to the best-of-3 championship series. BSC will also host a four-team double-elimination tourney. Millsaps stumbled in Game 1 at Memphis 5-4 on Friday despite out-hitting the host Lynx 11-7. Rhodes put up a four-spot, aided by an error, in the second inning against Smokey Ethridge (4-3) and the Majors couldn’t recover. In Game 2 on Saturday, Rhodes handed Keith Shumaker his first loss of the season (against eight wins). He allowed 11 hits and a walk in losing a 3-2 duel against Adam Putnam (7-2), who checked the Majors on six hits. In Game 3, a seven-inning nightcap on Saturday, the Lynx (26-11, 14-6) pounded out 18 hits against four Majors pitchers, blowing the game open with a six-run sixth and winning 11-2. Was the Majors’ confidence shaken by the lost weekend, or will they come out angry and motivated in the tournament next weekend?
In a much different position than it was in a year ago, Millsaps College starts postseason play on Friday. The fourth-seeded Majors (21-16 after scoring 27 runs in a two-game sweep at Oglethorpe over the weekend) play 5-seed Hendrix in one of the two four-team pods in the Southern Athletic Association Tournament. Also in Millsaps’ bracket are No. 1 seed (and pod host) Birmingham-Southern and 8-seed Sewanee. The survivors from the double-elimination pods meet in a best-of-3 series for the conference title. Millsaps won both the regular season and postseason championships in 2013 en route to the NCAA Division III World Series. Keith Shumaker beat Birmingham-Southern in the title clincher at Twenty Field last May. The preseason All-American is still around, sporting a 5-1, 2.39 pitching ledger and a .344 batting average. But Shumaker and the Majors have their work cut out for them in their quest to repeat as league champs and return to the D-III regionals.