21 Feb

rivalry time

Millsaps College is 2-4 and has lost four straight, the last two against teams ranked in the top four nationally in NCAA Division III. Belhaven University is 0-5, including two one-run losses and a pair of two-run defeats. One of the two will have its spirits lifted tonight at Trustmark Park in Pearl, where the D-III rivals will meet in the first Maloney Trophy Series game of the season. Belhaven holds the trophy, having swept the three-game series last year, including a 29-13 rout in the finale. The Blazers, an NAIA program until just a few years ago, lead the all-time series 29-17 and have won the last seven. Another high-scoring affair could be in the offing in tonight’s 6 p.m. contest, despite the TeePee’s reputation as a pitcher’s park. Jim Page’s Majors have a staff ERA of 7.02. (Wil Wood, a first-team all-conference pick in 2022, has an 8.10 ERA in two starts.) Kyle Palmer’s Blazers have posted a 6.21. (Preseason All-America pick Brett Sanchez has a 5.25.) Millsaps brings a .297 team batting average into the game, led by Case Page at .440 and Chris Hart at .360 (with six RBIs). Kyle McLaughlin leads Belhaven with a .500 average and six runs, and Dawson Albin is at .294. The Blazers are hitting just .244 as a unit. Mississippi offers up an abundance of in-state rivalry games at the various levels every season. Millsaps-Belhaven, with a trophy on the line, is one of the best. P.S. Former Madison Central High star Braden Montgomery, now at Stanford, had an eventful game on Sunday. He hit a three-run double in the top of the ninth to put the Cardinal ahead, gave up a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth, scored a run as part of the Cardinal’s eight-run 10th and pitched a scoreless bottom half (with two strikeouts) to get the win in a wild 21-13 victory at Cal State Fullerton.

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