Former Southern Miss star Nick Sandlin worked a 1-2-3 inning, capped by a strikeout, in his major league debut today for Cleveland. The sidearming right-hander, who had former big league catcher A.J. Pierzynski raving about his stuff on the FS1 broadcast, retired the Chicago White Sox’s Leury Garcia on a fly ball, Tim Anderson on a bouncer to third base and Adam Eaton via punchout in the sixth inning at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. Sandlin was a second-round pick by the Indians out of USM in 2018 and posted a 2.68 ERA over 49 minor league games. He was a true ace at USM, going 13-5 with 20 saves as the closer in 2016-17 and 10-0 with a 1.06 ERA as a starter in 2018. He was the Ferriss Trophy winner that final season.
Jackson State can swing the bats: .308 team batting average. The Tigers have some quality arms: Nik Galatas is 7-2, Anthony Beccera 6-1 and Steven Davila 4-0 with five saves. But maybe the most impressive aspect of the Tigers’ game is their wheels. JSU, 25-8 and 19-0 in the SWAC after dismantling Alabama A&M 13-0 on Friday, leads the nation in stolen bases and has five players with double-figure totals in steals. They got four bags on Friday, running their total to 108, far and away the best in NCAA Division I. They don’t hit a lot of homers, just 20 on the year. But their old-school, kicking-up-dust style produces. They average 9.2 runs per game. Equon Smith leads the club with 20 steals in 21 attempts. Jatavious Melton, from Natchez, has 18; Madison’s Chandler Dillard 15; Columbia’s C.J. Newsome 14; and Raymond’s Chevy Dorris 12. Wesley Reyes is 8-of-9. The Tigers will enter the SWAC Tournament, set for May 19-23 at Madison, Ala., as the clear favorite for the title. And they’ll have to win the event to get an NCAA regional bid. It’d be a shame if they don’t; their speed and aggressiveness on the bases could cause problems for whatever regional heavyweights they might encounter.