Lance Lynn and the Chicago White Sox could not have scripted it any better. In the team’s home opener, in the former Ole Miss star’s first start at Guaranteed Rate Field with his new club, Lynn threw a five-hit shutout, striking out 11 in a 6-0 win Thursday against Kansas City. He capped the performance with a punchout. “He was just nails,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said in an mlb.com story. It was the second career shutout and fourth complete game for the veteran right-hander, acquired by the White Sox from Texas in an off-season trade. The White Sox surely are thrilled with what they’ve seen from their No. 3 starter, who slots in behind Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel. Lynn, now 105-71 in his career, has not allowed a run in 13 2/3 innings this season. P.S. The White Sox placed ex-Taylorsville High standout Billy Hamilton on the injured list with a hamstring injury. He joins East Central Community College product Tim Anderson (hammy) on the 10-day IL.
It’s not exactly King Kong vs. Godzilla, but Saturday’s doubleheader at Cresap Field in Fulton throws together the two current behemoths of Mississippi juco baseball. Pearl River Community College, ranked No. 2 in NJCAA Division II, is 14-4 in the MACCC standings, tied for first with Itawamba, ranked 11th. Not surprisingly, both of these clubs are loaded with hitters and hurlers boasting great numbers. The host Indians are led by Riley Davis, batting .484 with 24 RBIs and 28 runs, and Lane Domino, who has nine homers, 28 RBIs, 35 runs and a .398 average. On the mound, Brady Davis is 4-0, Will Armistead 3-0 and Collin Babin 4-2. PRCC features Tate Parker, hitting .398 with 10 homers and 41 RBIs, and Graham Crawford, .349 with nine bombs and 33 RBIs. Wildcats ace Landon Gartman is among the nation’s leaders at 6-0 with a 1.71 ERA. Sam Hill is 4-0, 3.18. … East Central is third in the league at 14-6 but coming off a crushing sweep at the hands of Hinds, which outscored the Warriors 21-3 behind five homers on Tuesday. ECCC visits Northwest (13-11) on Saturday. Meridian and Gulf Coast are both 12-6.
The San Francisco Giants made Will Clark the second overall pick in the 1985 June amateur draft. It didn’t take long for them to get the feeling they had chosen wisely. On April 8, 1986, former Mississippi State All-American Clark homered in his first major league at-bat, going yard against future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan in the first inning at Houston’s Astrodome. Clark, 22 at the time, hit .287 with 11 homers as a rookie and .303 with 284 bombs over his decorated 15-year career. He hit .333 with five homers in the postseason. Clark was a five-time All-Star and finished in the top five in MVP voting four times during his eight years with the Giants, including the 1989 World Series club. MLB Pipeline recently rated Clark the Giants’ best-ever draft pick. Hard to disagree. P.S. Big league bits: MSU product Mitch Moreland’s sixth career walk-off hit on Wednesday delivered Oakland its first win of the season, 4-3 over the Los Angeles Dodgers in 10 innings. … Brandon Woodruff, another Bulldogs alum, threw six no-hit innings, gave up a single in the seventh (his final inning) but got a no-decision in Milwaukee’s 4-2, 10-inning win vs. the Chicago Cubs. … Ex-State star Brent Rooker (neck) of Minnesota and East Central Community College alum Tim Anderson (hamstring) of the Chicago White Sox have landed on the injured list.
Mississippi State product Nate Lowe hit two home runs and picked up four RBIs as Texas whipped Toronto 7-4 Tuesday night in the big leagues. Lowe is hitting .381 with three homers and 14 RBIs for his new club.
Itawamba Community College’s Lane Domino banged out seven hits, including three homers, to pace the 11th-ranked Indians’ sweep of a doubleheader against Coahoma in Fulton.
Northwest Rankin High’s Ryan Herbison hit two homers, including a grand slam, as the Cougars beat region rival Brandon 16-10 in Class 6A.
William Carey University’s Sloan Dieter homered, drove in six runs and scored four to spark the Crusaders to a twinbill sweep of Southeastern Baptist in Hattiesburg.
Pearl River CC’s Landon Gartman threw a seven-inning complete game, allowing three hits, no walks and fanning 12, to help the No. 2 Wildcats beat No. 7 Meridian 4-1 and earn a split of their MACCC doubleheader in Poplarville.
Nine MSU pitchers threw one inning each and struck out a combined 17 batters as the Bulldogs beat Southern University 15-1 in Starkville. Mikey Tepper and Eric Cerantola each K’d the side.
Two to watch on the small college scene today: Delta State, which has won nine straight games, welcomes Southern Arkansas to Ferriss Field in Cleveland, while William Carey, which shook off a five-game funk to sweep Blue Mountain last weekend, plays host to Southeastern Baptist at Wheeler Field in Hattiesburg. … After a wild series against Gulf South foe Valdosta State at home last weekend, DSU sits at 15-10 overall and 13-10 (fourth) in the league. The Statesmen won Game 1 vs. VSU 5-3 on a walk-off homer by Michael Allen, his first of the year. Hunter Riggins (4-3) and T.J. Childree (fourth save) pitched brilliantly in a 4-3 win in Game 2. In the finale, in what had to be one of the craziest games in school history, DSU blew an 8-2 lead, pushed across tying runs in the ninth and 10th innings to stay alive and won on a bases-loaded HBP that capped a three-run 11th. Blake Wolferding is raking at a .377 clip with five homers and 19 RBIs in just 53 at-bats. Former Madison Central star Kirkland Trahan is at .350 with five homers, and Jake Barlow has six homers and 26 RBIs. Riggins, a staff mainstay, has a 2.72 ERA, and Childree has a 0.66 over 12 games. No. 2 starter Christian Day is 2-2, 4.74. … Meanwhile, Carey’s showdown with SSAC rival Blue Mountain proved to be quite a mismatch: The Crusaders won 16-1, 9-7 and 15-1 at the BMC SportsPlex. WCU moved to 19-7, 4-5. Heroes were abundant: Two-way star Sloan Dieter threw seven innings (11 strikeouts) for the win and drove in five runs in Game 1; Chris Williams went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Jay Johnston 4-for-5 with two runs in Game 2; and R.J. Stinson drove in five runs while Jorge Ramos and John Snyder combined on a three-hitter in the series finale. P.S. Belhaven’s Brett Sanchez (see previous post) absorbed his first loss of the season last Friday, giving up five earned runs in 6 1/3 innings at Ozarks. Sanchez is 7-1 with a 2.20 ERA.
On this date in 2010, on opening day in Atlanta, in his major league debut, on his first swing, Jason Heyward hit a three-run home run off the Chicago Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano. The “welcome to The Show” moment for the highly touted Heyward sent the Turner Field crowd into a frenzy and also provided a thrill for Mississippi Braves fans, who had witnessed Heyward’s prowess in 2009 at Trustmark Park. Former M-Braves stars have created quite a few of these moments in their big league debuts. Brian McCann, the first to get the call from the Double-A club in 2005, got a hit in his first big league at-bat. Later that summer, Jeff Francoeur homered in his first game, again rocking the Turner Field crowd. In 2009, Jordan Schafer went deep in his first at-bat, on his first swing. In 2012, Evan Gattis hit a bomb in his first game – while his father was being interviewed on Fox Sports South. In 2019, Austin Riley, the pride of DeSoto Central High, homered in his first big league game, this one at SunTrust Park. Who’ll be the next M-Braves alum to deliver on his big day? Keep an eye out for Drew Waters, the Southern League MVP and batting champ from 2019. His debut should come sometime this season.
Spring training numbers often are misleading. Nate Lowe’s Cactus League stats were nothing to get excited about: .205, one home run, 15 strikeouts and eight walks in 44 at-bats for Texas. Was the Mississippi State product out of sync? Well, three games into the real season, Lowe is batting .357 with a homer and nine RBIs — most in the American League and a franchise record for the first three games of a season. Lowe’s 465-foot, three-run blast on Sunday propelled the Rangers’ to their first win of 2021, 7-3 at Kansas City. There were reports in the spring that Lowe was taking too many good pitches. As it turned out, that was part of a plan to work on strike zone discipline. “We have to consistently stay in the strike zone,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said in an mlb.com story. “Nate Lowe does as good a job of that as anybody.” Acquired from Tampa Bay in an off-season trade, the lefty slugger hit .251 with 11 homers in 71 games for the Rays in 2019-20. He batted .348 with five homers and 49 RBIs in his one season (2016) in Starkville. P.S. Ex-State star Brent Rooker, recalled from Minnesota’s alternate camp when Josh Donaldson went on the injured list, went 0-for-2 in his 2021 debut on Sunday. … Ex-East Central Community College standout Tim Anderson is considered day-to-day for the Chicago White Sox with a hamstring strain suffered Sunday. … Ocean Springs High product Garrett Crochet made his ’21 debut Saturday for the ChiSox and retired all seven batters he faced, touching 99 mph and fanning three. … Former State star Hunter Renfroe is 0-for-7 in his first two games for Boston, which is 0-3. Former Bulldogs standout Mitch Moreland is 1-for-9 for Oakland, which is 0-4.
Twenty years ago, Roy Oswalt, a 25th-round draft pick, began a big league career that stands among the best of any Mississippi-born player. A Holmes Community College alumnus from Weir, Oswalt debuted for Houston on May 6, 2001, working an inning against Montreal. He picked up the first of his 163 career wins on May 14, beating Cincinnati in another relief outing. On June 2, he made his first start and beat the Los Angeles Dodgers. Oswalt would pitch 13 years in The Show, making three All-Star Games, winning an ERA title and leading the Astros to their first World Series berth in 2005. The lean right-hander finished in the top six in Cy Young voting six times. Only one other Magnolia State native, Guy Bush, won more games than Oswalt. Other debut anniversaries of note occurring this season: Ninety years ago, brothers Gee and Hub Walker of Gulfport reached the majors, debuting on back-to-back days in April as the leadoff batter for Detroit. Gee went 1-for-4, Hub 3-for-5. Gee batted .294 over a long career, Hub .263 over a much shorter one. … Seventy years ago, Bob “The Rope” Boyd of Potts Camp and Sam Hairston from Crawford, both former Negro Leagues stars, got their first taste of the majors. Hairston is the patriarch of MLB’s first black three-generation family. … Sixty years ago, Silver City’s Jack Reed broke in with the New York Yankees; he played only 28 games that season but had a front-row seat in September as Roger Maris chased down Babe Ruth’s home run record. … Ten years ago, Louis Coleman, from Greenwood by way of LSU, debuted with Kansas City and went on to post a 3.51 ERA over seven MLB seasons (264 games) as a reliever.
Leather popping. Bats, uh, clanking. Infielders chattering. Yes, college baseball is what’s goin’ down this weekend around the Magnolia State. While Mississippi State is hosting Kentucky in an SEC showdown at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville, there are notable games also in Itta Bena, Cleveland, Clinton, Blue Mountain, Jackson, Columbus and Holly Springs. Jackson State (14-7, 9-0 SWAC) visits Mississippi Valley State (0-9, 0-6). The Delta Devils dodged a likely beatdown from MSU when Tuesday’s game was rained out, but they figure to take some lumps from the Tigers, who outscored Alabama A&M 36-5 in a series last weekend. Delta State (12-10, 10-10 Gulf South) takes a six-game win streak into a league series against Valdosta State at Ferriss Field, and Mississippi College (8-13, 5-11 GSC) rides a four-game wave into its series against West Georgia at Frierson Field. Up at Blue Mountain, the Toppers (11-8, 2-4 SSAC) welcome in-state rival William Carey (16-7, 1-5) in a key conference series. Carey leads the all-time series 22-4, but BMC’s program is on the rise. At Twenty Field in Jackson, Millsaps (6-16, 4-8 SAC), recovering from a disastrous start, welcomes D-III nationally ranked Birmingham-Southern, always a power in their conference. At Columbus High today, MUW, 12-3 with seven straight W’s, takes on Tougaloo (2-15) in a twinbill. The Owls then play two against Rust College in Holly Springs on Saturday. Matt Wolfenbarger has put together a solid D-III program in short order at The W, which is 3-1 against Tougaloo and 2-0 vs. Rust, both NAIA schools.
Nate Lowe became, on Thursday, the latest in a long line of former Mississippi State sluggers to suit up for the Texas Rangers. Acquired in an off-season trade with Tampa Bay, the lefty-hitting first baseman/DH went 2-for-6 and drove in four runs in his Texas debut. Ex-Bulldogs Rafael Palmeiro, Will Clark, Jon Shave and Mitch Moreland also played in Texas. The Rangers-Mississippi connection goes way back — to the club’s second year in the Lone Star State. Donny Castle was the eighth overall pick in the 1968 MLB draft, taken out of Coldwater High by the Washington Senators, who moved to Arlington, Texas, in 1972. Castle, perhaps best known from his time as the coach at Northwest Mississippi Community College, was a Kokomo, Ind., native who grew up in Coldwater. He played pro ball for 11 years, getting a cup of coffee (four games) with the Rangers in 1973. A lefty-hitting first baseman/DH, Castle hit .268 with 115 homers in the minors. He coached at NWCC from 1998-2005, winning 271 games and a state title. P.S. The first hit by a Mississippian in 2021 was delivered by JaCoby Jones, the former Mr. Baseball from Richton High who stroked an RBI double in his first at-bat for Detroit. The first win by a Mississippian went to Ole Miss alumnus Mike Mayers, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the Los Angeles Angels, who beat the Chicago White Sox. … A couple of former Mississippi State stars are closing in on significant milestones in their MLB careers. Hunter Renfroe, whose Boston debut was delayed by rain, needs three homers to reach 100. Moreland, who went 0-for-2 in his Oakland debut, needs 32 hits to reach 1,000.