10 Aug

coming up

The NJCAA National Team, featuring five MACJC players, has made the semifinals of the National Baseball Congress World Series. The NJCAA stars, who rallied to win their quarterfinal 9-8 in a game that ended at 1:40 a.m. local time today, play the Wellington Heat tonight at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita, Kan. Brant Blaylock, a Southern Miss signee out of Northwest Mississippi Community College, is hitting .294 with three RBIs and four runs. Hinds CC coach Sam Temple is an assistant on the team. … The get-off-my-lawn segment of traditionalists may cringe, but Players Weekend is back in the big leagues. “Bull,” “C-Dizzle,” “Bone” and “Juicy J” are nicknames that will adorn the distinctly non-traditional jerseys of Mississippians in the majors during the second annual event that starts Aug. 24. Brian Dozier is “Bull,” Corey Dickerson “C-Dizzle,” Billy Hamilton “Bone” and JaCoby Jones “Juicy J.” Mitch Moreland again will wear “2 Bags,” and Hunter Renfroe will be “Froe.” Lance Lynn will wear “Mia,” his daughter’s name. … Milwaukee visits Atlanta for a big weekend series that matches the parent clubs of the state’s two Double-A teams. The Braves have a much more homegrown roster, with 10 former Mississippi Braves among the 25 players. That tally includes five regulars: Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Johan Camargo and Ronald Acuna. There are four Biloxi Shuckers alums with the Brewers, none of them position regulars. Tonight’s starter, Freddy Peralta, is one of three pitchers who played in Biloxi. … Saturday is National Baseball Card Day, a reminder to search the attic one more time for those lost cardboard treasures. How much is a George Scott rookie worth, anyway? … Four Mississippians are on the East roster for Sunday’s Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego: Jackson Prep’s Jerrion Ealy, Pearl River Central’s Hayden Dunhurst, George County’s Logan Tanner and Olive Branch native Kendall Williams, who attends IMG Academy in Florida.

07 Aug

around the horn

Two games into his New York Yankees career, ex-Ole Miss star Lance Lynn looks like a good fit. The big right-hander played stopper on Monday night, throwing 7 1/3 fairly brilliant innings to beat the Chicago White Sox 7-0 and end the Yanks’ five-game skid. He hasn’t allowed a run in 11 2/3 innings over two appearances since his trade from Minnesota. His ERA for the season is now 4.58. Lynn won 72 games in six years in St. Louis, pitched in 24 postseason games and won a World Series ring in 2011. And yet: “When playing for the Yankees, it’s a little different,” Lynn said in an mlb.com story. … Meanwhile, UM alum Bobby Wahl, pitching for that other New York club, notched his second hold on Monday night in his third appearance for the Mets, who beat Cincinnati 6-4. Wahl, acquired in a trade with Oakland, has three strikeouts among the five outs he has recorded in his three scoreless outings. … Though not all of his numbers are great, former Southern Miss ace Kirk McCarty does lead all low Class A pitchers in strikeouts with 132. The 5-foot-10 left-hander from Hattiesburg is 4-8 with a 4.29 ERA in 115 1/3 innings for Lake County in Cleveland’s system. He has won three of his last four decisions. … Joe Gray, drafted in the second round in June by Milwaukee, isn’t hitting much in the rookie Arizona League – .175 in 17 games – but the Hattiesburg High alum has shown a knack for drawing walks – 14, boosting his on-base percentage to .342. The 18-year-old outfielder has a homer, eight RBIs, 10 runs and six steals. … The NJCAA National Team, featuring several MACJC stars, is 1-1 in the National Baseball Congress World Series after a 6-3 loss to the San Antonio, TX Angels on Monday. Jones County JC’s Tyler Spring took the loss, though he allowed just one earned run in 5 1/3 innings. Northwest’s Brant Blaylock was 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI and Gulf Coast’s Brandon Parker 0-for-2 with two walks and a run. Blaylock went 3-for-6 with an RBI and Parker 1-for-4 with two walks and an RBI in a 7-6, 12-inning win vs. the San Diego, CA Force in the team’s opener on Saturday. Shermar Page of Pearl River pitched a scoreless inning in that game.

02 Aug

good old summertime

The NJCAA National Team, which includes five MACJC alums, begins play in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., on Saturday against the San Diego, CA Force. Pitchers Shemar Page of Pearl River Community College and Tyler Spring of Jones County, catcher Tucker Childers of Northeast and outfielders Brandon Parker of Mississippi Gulf Coast and Brant Blaylock of Northwest are on the NJCAA team roster. Hinds coach Sam Temple is on the coaching staff. Parker, from Saucier and West Harrison High, was the NJCAA Division II player of the year as a freshman. … Southern Miss All-American Matt Wallner is hitting .250 with four homers, 11 RBIs and four steals in 80 at-bats for Falmouth in the Cape Cod League, which concludes its regular season today. Falmouth has clinched a playoff berth. Wallner, who did not make the final cut for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, has had a streaky tour in the CCBL. He had a seven-game hit streak that included three homers in mid-July. He is 6-for-13 with three RBIs over his last four games. … The Hattiesburg Black Sox, champions of the Mississippi Baseball Congress state tournament, are participating in the inaugural Bluegrass World Series in Louisville, Ky. The six-day, eight-team tournament, created by the owners of the minor league Louisville Bats, includes various amateur and semi-pro teams, most notably the Louisville Stars, a collection of former major leaguers. Managed by Johnny Bench, the Stars’ listed roster includes, along with Chipper Jones, Tim Hudson and Johnny Damon, former Holmes Community College star Roy Oswalt and Mississippi State alum Jonathan Papelbon. The Black Sox played the Stars on Wednesday; they lost 15-2. … The North Delta Dealers are the 2018 Cotton States League champions; they beat HillCountry 6-2 in the summer league’s title game in New Albany on Sunday. Collin McPherson, a Freed-Hardeman alum, homered, scored three times and pitched six innings for the Dealers. Northwest Mississippi CC’s Hunter White had a hit and scored twice and Southaven’s John Wesley Ray had two hits and an RBI for the Dealers. … Chad Girodo, ex-Mississippi State star and onetime big leaguer, is pitching for the Chicago Dogs of the independent American Association. (The Dogs’ bench coach is Jackson native Stan Cliburn.) Girodo was released from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ organization in June. Through 10 games with the Dogs, the 27-year-old lefty has a 3.17 ERA.

13 Jul

wichita-bound

Mississippi will be well-represented on the all-star team the NJCAA is sending to the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan. The 26-man National Team roster, announced this week, includes five MACJC alums: pitchers Shemar Page of Pearl River Community College and Tyler Spring of Jones County, catcher Tucker Childers of Northeast and outfielders Brandon Parker of Mississippi Gulf Coast and Brant Blaylock of Northwest. Hinds coach Sam Temple is on the coaching staff, which is headed by Doug Wren of Tyler (Texas). It would have been a crime had Parker not been included. He was named the NJCAA Division II player of the year after batting .424 with 24 homers and a national-best 81 RBIs in 2018. The others are also well-credentialed. Page went 10-2 with a 2.73 ERA for state champion Pearl River, and Tyler Spring was 8-2, 2.90 for a Jones team that was ranked near the top of the D-II poll all season. Childers, an All-Star in the Cal Ripken League this summer, is a defensive stalwart who batted .352 with 13 homers at Northeast. Northwest’s Blaylock belted 18 homers and hit .385. The players report for a training camp in Texas on July 25. The NBC World Series starts July 27 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. … The tournament, which launched in 1935, brings together amateur/semi-pro teams from all over the country. Mississippi typically sends a team. The Hattiesburg Black Sox, who won the Magnolia Adult Baseball League championship earlier this summer, participated in 2017. Two different teams from the state have finished runner-up in the World Series: the Jackson Braves in 1968 and the West Point Packers in ’66.

07 Aug

out wichita way

The Kansas Stars and the NJCAA National Team, both with Mississippi natives on the roster, were impressive in their National Baseball Congress World Series openers on Saturday. Former Brandon High standout Barry Wesson, on a Stars team filled with ex-major leaguers, contributed a hit in an 8-0 victory at Wichita, Kan. Wesson, 39, played in 25 MLB games and spent 14 years all told in the minors and independent ball, last playing in 2011. Roy Oswalt, the former Weir High and Holmes Community College star, is also on the Stars roster, which includes the likes of Roger Clemens, Tim Hudson, Adam LaRoche, Dan Uggla, J.D. Drew and Josh Beckett. The NJCAA team, a collection of 2016 juco stars that includes Mason Irby, opened with a 12-4 win. Irby, an All-America honoree at Jones County JC and a Southern Miss signee, went 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter. The Stars and the NJCAA team are slated to meet on Wednesday in the pool portion of the tournament; Clemens has been announced as the Stars starter. … The semi-pro Laurel Black Cats were eliminated from the NBC event with an 0-3 record in pool play last week.

01 Jul

touching the bases

Jackson native and ex-big leaguer Stan Cliburn will manage in the independent Atlantic League’s All-Star Game on July 13 in Lancaster, Pa. Cliburn’s Southern Maryland team won the Freedom Division title in 2015, which earned him the managerial honor even though he now skippers the New Britain Bees, who play in the Liberty Division. (So, yes, he’ll be managing against some of his own players.) … Jones County Junior College alum Mason Irby will play on the NJCAA National Team in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan. Irby, a Southern Miss signee from Meridian, batted .387 with eight homers and 76 RBIs for the NJCAA Division II national champion Bobcats. He is a first-team NJCAA All-America pick and an ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove recipient as an outfielder. The NBC World Series will be held July 29-Aug. 13 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. … Hunter Renfroe, the former Mississippi State slugger, has been chosen for the Triple-A All-Star Game, set for July 13 in Charlotte, N.C. The San Diego Padres prospect, who leads all of Triple-A with 18 home runs, already is slated to appear in the All-Star Futures Game on July 10 in San Diego. … Also on the Pacific Coast League team for the Triple-A Game are former Biloxi Shuckers star Orlando Arcia and ex-Mississippi Braves Gorkys Hernandez and James Hoyt. Onetime Jackson Mets shortstop Wally Backman is the PCL manager. Stu Cliburn, Stan’s brother and another Forest Hill High alum, is the pitching coach for the International League team; he is with Rochester in the Minnesota system. … Something about summer ball seems to suit Mississippi State’s Brent Rooker. Playing for Brewster in the Cape Cod League, Rooker is batting .391 with eight RBIs through 11 games. Rooker, who was drafted last month but apparently will return to the Bulldogs, was MVP of the New England Collegiate Baseball League last summer, when he batted .360 with 11 bombs. He’ll be in Omaha on Sunday for the College Home Run Derby, along with Ole Miss’ Colby Bortles. … Also in the Cape, Southern Miss’ Kirk McCarty is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA for Orleans. … The North Delta Dealers have had the best hand in the Cotton States League to date, winning nine of their first 10 games in the New Albany college summer loop. East Mississippi Community College’s Garrett Ainsworth is 1-0 with a save in 7 1/3 innings, while John David Kubiszyn (Auburn) is batting .462 with three homers for the Dealers.