Things are clicking – sort of – for the Mississippi Braves. Though manager Wyatt Toregas resigned suddenly during the Double-A club’s series at Biloxi, the team won five of six there and has taken 12 of its last 16. At 20-16, the M-Braves are second in the Double-A South South Division. A new manager has not been named; the coaching staff ran the team for the last three games at Biloxi. The M-Braves’ pitching staff leads the league in ERA, and highly rated prospect Shea Langeliers is playing like one: .265 with nine homers, 19 RBIs and 20 runs, all team-leading stats. Braden Shewmake, Atlanta’s No. 4 prospect (Langeliers is No. 3), has finally begun to swing the bat after an ice-cold start. He has hit safely in five of his last six to reach .135 with three homers and 10 RBIs. Justin Dean has 10 steals and 17 runs. Birmingham, the top scoring team in the league, comes to Trustmark Park today with a 22-13 mark, first in the North Division. The Chicago White Sox’s affiliate features the organization’s No. 6 prospect, Micker Adolfo, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound outfielder batting .244 with eight homers. Ti’Quan Forbes, the former Mississippi Mr. Baseball from Columbia High, is batting .281 with three homers for the Barons, and Mississippi State product Konnor Pilkington, from Pascagoula, is 1-1 with a 2.60 ERA in six starts.
William Carey brought one home in 1969. Delta State did it in 2004, Jones College in 2016. Mississippi State gets to try, try again this month to do what no NCAA Division I school from Mississippi has done before: Win a national title. Carey won the NAIA crown, DSU in NCAA D-II and Jones in NJCAA D-II. The Bulldogs earned their 12th trip to Omaha and the College World Series by spanking Notre Dame 11-7 Monday in Game 3 of the Starkville Super Regional before a crazy crowd at Dudy Noble Field. State can’t take that crowd to Omaha but will take SEC player of the year Tanner Allen, highly rated MLB draft prospect starters Will Bednar and Christian MacLeod and the hottest closer going, Landon Sims. State’s side of the CWS bracket includes No. 2 national seed Texas and No. 3 Tennessee. Vanderbilt, Arizona and Stanford lurk on the other side. Knock-down, drag-out battles should be expected. But the Bulldogs are one of eight with a chance. They’ve come close before, taking second in 2013 and third in 1985 with the Clark-Palmeiro-Brantley-Thigpen team that was probably the most talented the state has seen. Winning the last game of the season is tough. In the 2011 film “Moneyball” that was – and remains — Billy Beane’s great lament: “If you lose the last game of the season, nobody gives a (flip).” That’s not entirely true. State has enjoyed another great ride in 2021. But if the Bulldogs do manage to win the last one, to bring home a “natty,” it’s hard to imagine what the celebration in Bulldog Nation would be like.