The jaw-dropping no-hitter by Houston in Game 4 on Wednesday night — following Philadelphia’s jaw-dropping five-homer game on Tuesday night — ensures that there will be a Game 6 in Houston on Saturday night. Brookhaven native Lance Barksdale is scheduled to be the home plate umpire for that game. Barksdale, who worked first base in Game 4, has been umpiring in MLB since 2000 (full-time since 2006) and is highly rated by those who rate such things. He was 18th in overall accuracy out of 96 umps who worked behind the plate in 2022, per umpscorecards.com. He has received a number of major assignments: the World Baseball Classic, the All-Star Game and multiple postseason series, including two World Series. He was behind the plate for Game 5 of the 2019 Series between the Astros and Washington (and made a couple of memorable ball-strike calls). … The Astros have thrown 15 no-hitters in their 61-year history. Among them are a combo effort in 2003 that was started by Weir’s Roy Oswalt and finished by former Jackson Generals star Billy Wagner and a true no-no in 1986 by ex-Jackson Mets ace Mike Scott. … Oswalt, incidentally, pitched for both the Astros (10 seasons) and Phillies (two) and aided in postseason runs by both clubs. A Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer, he won 163 games, second only to Guy Bush among state natives, in a stellar big league career. … Today is the 69th birthday of Sunflower native Larry Herndon, who played 14 years in the majors and won a World Series ring with Detroit in 1984. Herndon, who went to high school in Memphis and attended Tennessee State, batted .274 with 107 homers and 92 steals as an outfielder with St. Louis, San Francisco and the Tigers. In Game 1 of the ’84 Series against San Diego, Herndon hit a go-ahead two-run homer that propelled the Tigers to victory. He went 5-for-15 in the five-game series. He coached in the Detroit system in 2022. … Props to former Mississippi Braves Dansby Swanson and Max Fried and Biloxi Shuckers alum Trent Grisham for winning National League Gold Gloves. … Chris Ellis, the ex-Ole Miss and M-Braves standout, has elected free agency after being dropped from Baltimore’s 40-man roster. Ellis, 30, missed virtually the entire ’22 season with a shoulder injury.
Philadelphia and Houston, headed for a World Series showdown, have met once before in the postseason — in the wild and wooly 1980 National League Championship Series. It was a best-of-5 that went the distance and then some, featuring four extra-inning games, ultimately won by the Phillies in the 10th inning of Game 5 at the Astrodome. One of the heroes of that dramatic 8-7 win was former Mississippi State star Del Unser, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and produced two clutch hits, a big RBI and two huge runs. Unser, a Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer, was an All-SEC and All-America outfielder at State, playing on two SEC title teams in the mid-1960s. He began a 15-year big league career with the Washington Senators in 1968. By 1980, he was 35 years old and a bench player — a pinch hitter extraordinaire — on a Phillies club that included Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa and Pete Rose. The lefty-hitting Unser batted .264 in 123 at-bats that season. In the NLCS, he was 0-for-3 before entering Game 5 with two outs and two on and the Phillies down 5-4. He singled off Ken Forsch to tie the score, then scored on a Manny Trillo triple that put the Phils up 7-5. Houston tied it in the bottom of the eighth. Unser came up again in the 10th with one out. He doubled off Frank LaCorte and scored what proved to be the game-winner on a double by Garry Maddox. The Phillies went on to win the World Series over the Kansas City Royals; Unser was 3-for-6 with two RBIs and two runs in that series. He retired after the 1982 season with a .258 career average, 481 RBIs and 617 runs. The 1980 postseason was the only one he ever played in. He certainly made the most of it.