11 Jun

short stories

They will be where the action is this weekend. They hit near the top of the order and play in the middle of the field. It won’t be a surprise if the opposing shortstops in the Hattiesburg Super Regional prove to be central figures in the outcome of the best-of-3 series. Southern Miss’ Dustin Dickerson is the leading hitter at .326 for the Golden Eagles, the No. 11 national seed aiming for a second-ever trip to the College World Series. Ole Miss’ Jacob Gonzalez was an All-SEC pick this season and is batting .274 with 17 home runs for a Rebels team seeking a sixth CWS trip. Dickerson played at Laurel’s West Jones High, where he was the Class 5A player of the year for a state champion in 2019. His father, Bobby, played college and pro ball and is now the infield coach for the Philadelphia Phillies. The younger Dickerson can pick it on defense; he made several big plays in USM’s run to the regional championship. He’s not a power hitter but did smack 24 doubles this season, driving in 32 runs and scoring 44. The good-hit, good-field label also fits the UM shortstop. Gonzalez, also the son of a minor league player (Jess), came to Oxford as a highly rated recruit from California. He has lived up to the promise, earning freshman All-America honors last season and making USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team last year and this. He’ll be a high MLB draft pick in 2023. Taylor Park will be slammed for this series, which starts today (3 p.m., ESPNU). It’ll be loud. It’ll be intense. And it’ll be memorable, moreso for one of the two shortstops than the other.

11 Jun

whoopie!

The Portland Sea Dogs, Boston’s Double-A affiliate, wore Maine Whoopie Pies uniforms on Friday as a tribute to the state treat of Maine, some sort of cream-filled cookie. Houlka’s Tyreque Reed apparently liked the look. He hit his first two home runs in what has been a difficult second season in Class AA, marred by a suspension and a prolonged slump. An outstanding hitter at Itawamba Community College before being drafted by Texas in 2017, Reed was plucked by the Red Sox in the 2020 Rule 5 draft. The 6-foot-1, 250-pound first baseman/DH blasted 17 home runs overall in 2021, finishing the year at Double-A Portland. He went 5-for-8 with four RBIs in big league camp for the Red Sox this spring, reportedly making a nice impression. But his 2022 season was interrupted by a 10-day suspension in late April for punching an opposing pitcher and inciting a benches-clearing brawl. He returned on May 1 and hit .133 for the month. Reed’s bat has perked up in June, highlighted by Friday’s two-homer game. A .272 career hitter, he’s currently at .185 for the Sea Dogs. He entered this season with 58 career homers. One has to wonder, will the Whoopie Pies unies be pulled out again?