05 Apr

pennant fever

Friday is opening day No. 18 for the Mississippi Braves, who’ll take on the Biloxi Shuckers at 6:35 p.m. at Trustmark Park in Pearl. A championship is the ultimate goal, of course, for a franchise that has won two Southern League pennants (2008 and 2021). The 2023 roster is expected to be released today, when the team holds its first workout. The talent in Atlanta’s minor league system has been thinned out in recent years, but the organization has a true knack for scouting and development, so expect a competitive team. Jackson-area Double-A teams have won eight pennants all told, and this year marks a notable anniversary of two of those titles. Twenty years ago, the independent Jackson Senators won the Central Baseball League championship. In one of the most dramatic moments in Smith-Wills Stadium’s long history, Keto Anderson delivered a game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th inning of the decisive fifth game against Amarillo. That Senators team included Jeremy McClain, Gerard McCall, Ryan Creek, Kenny Rayborn, Robbie Kison, Vernon Spearman and onetime big leaguer Lonnie Maclin. Thirty years ago, the Double-A Jackson Generals won the Texas League championship, the first for the franchise as a Houston Astros affiliate. League MVP Roberto Petagine was the star of that team, which also included Brian Hunter, Jim Dougherty, Alvin Morman, Ray Montgomery, Lance “Bam-Bam” Madsen and Jackson native Fletcher Thompson.

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