15 May

winners and losers

After routing Milligan (Tenn.) 24-5 on Tuesday, William Carey University is on the brink of a second straight trip to the NAIA World Series. Carey, 2-0 in the Opening Round tourney at Hattiesburg, is slated to play the winner of today’s Milligan-Mid-America Christian (Okla.) elimination game tonight in the championship round. The Crusaders need a win there to advance. Ferriss Trophy finalist R.J. Stinson provided spark in Tuesday’s victory, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs at the top of the order, while 3-hole hitter Jake Lycette homered, drove in five runs and scored three. … East Central Community College, ranked No. 1 in NJCAA Division II, lost to Meridian CC on Tuesday in the first round of the Region 23 Tournament at Poplarville and faces Hinds today to stay alive in the regional. Host and second-ranked Pearl River beat Hinds on Tuesday and plays a winners bracket game today against No. 3 LSU-Eunice, which beat Jones College. Eighth-ranked Jones faces elimination today against Meridian. … Blue Mountain Christian’s season ended with a second straight loss in the NAIA Opening Round event at Shreveport, La. The Toppers (31-23) gave up 34 runs in their two losses.

10 May


Belhaven University is sitting pretty in the CCS Tournament. The NCAA Division III Blazers won their opener Thursday and have ace Brett Sanchez primed to go today against LaGrange (Ga.) in a winners bracket game at Maryville, Ky. With Colton Sylvester (7-1) tossing a six-hitter and Eli Britt and Hunter Harrell combining for six RBIs, second-seeded Belhaven whipped Huntingdon (Ala.) 8-1 Thursday. … William Carey University is the No. 2 seed behind Mid-America Christian (Okla.) in the four-team NAIA Opening Round tournament the Crusaders are hosting next week at Wheeler Field in Hattiesburg. Blue Mountain Christian is the fifth seed in the five-team Shreveport Bracket hosted by LSU-Shreveport. The top-seeded Pilots feature several Mississippi juco players, including Hinds Community College alum Vantrel Reed, their top hitter at .393 with eight homers and 58 RBIs. … Jackson State’s Myles White was named the SWAC co-hitter of the week after going 9-for-15 with eight RBIs and four runs in the Tigers’ sweep of Mississippi Valley State last weekend. White, who went 0-for-4 in a 5-0 loss at nationally ranked Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday, is batting .346 with 31 RBIs and 36 runs for the 30-17 Tigers. … MUW’s season ended Tuesday with an upset loss to Westminster (Mo.) in in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament at Fulton, Mo. The Owls finished 22-15. … The New York Yankees have claimed ex-Mississippi State pitcher Colby White on waivers from Tampa Bay. White had a 17.61 ERA in nine appearances at Triple-A Durham; the right-hander, whose career ERA is 2.83, missed all of 2022 and a chunk of 2023 after arm surgery. … MSU product J.P. France, recently demoted to Triple-A by Houston, reportedly has a shoulder injury that may sideline him for a lengthy period. An 11-game winner in 2023, he was 0-3 with a 7.46 this season when the Astros sent him down. … Former Southern Miss star Matt Wallner, sent to the minors after a 2-for-25 start with Minnesota, hit his fifth homer for Triple-A St. Paul on Thursday. The lefty slugger is batting .353 with four homers in May. … Ex-Ole Miss standout Jacob Gonzalez, the first player drafted — 15th overall — out of the state in 2023, went 2-for-4 Thursday to boost his average to .306 for High-Class A Winston-Salem in the Chicago White Sox’s chain. Gonzalez, a shortstop, has three homers, 12 RBIs and five steals.

09 May


Having a rough week? Can’t be much worse than what the Ole Miss team is enduring. On Sunday, the Rebels squandered a ninth-inning lead and lost 10-9 at Auburn on a walk-off passed ball. On Wednesday, back in Oxford, they squandered a sixth-inning lead — for the first time all season — and lost 12-9 in 15 innings to Murray State. And now the Rebels get a day to recover before Texas A&M, 41-8 and ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation, comes to Swayze Field for a three-game SEC series. The Rebels (25-23) used 10 pitchers against Murray State — a 31-win team — and they combined to allow 12 hits with eight walks and two HBPs in the 5-hour, 40-minute marathon. To their credit, UM relievers hung up zeroes from innings 10-14, but a grand slam — the Racers’ third bomb — spelled doom in the 15th. Ole Miss’ staff ERA is 6.06, and they have allowed double-digit runs in four of their last eight games. A&M’s hitters, who have 113 homers (fourth in the nation), must be licking their chops. Former Madison Central High star Braden Montgomery, a Golden Spikes finalist, has 24 of those 113 and is batting .342 with 76 RBIs. P.S. The Collegiate Conference of the South Tournament at Maryville, Tenn., was pushed back a day because of weather. Second-seeded Belhaven plays Huntingdon (Ala.) today in the tourney opener. … The NAIA Tournament field will be announced today. SSAC champion William Carey is hosting an Opening Round (regional) at Wheeler Field in Hattiesburg. Blue Mountain Christian, SSAC runner-up, has earned an at-large invite.

03 May

to the victors

A couple weeks ago, in Hattiesburg, Blue Mountain Christian took a regular season series from longtime rival William Carey University for the first time ever. On Saturday, in Jackson, Tenn., the two will meet again with much more on the line. With wins Thursday in conference championship pool play, Carey and BMC have clinched berths in Saturday’s Southern States Athletic Conference title game. Both also have clinched bids to the NAIA Tournament. BMC, the No. 8 seed in the league championship event, beat top-seeded Faulkner (Ala.) on Wednesday and followed that up with a win against Loyola of New Orleans on Thursday. Carey, the No. 2 seed, is 2-0 in pool play with wins against Thomas U. and Middle Georgia State. BMC plays Mobile and Carey gets Point U. in meaningless pool-play games today. For the record, Carey leads the all-time series with BMC 33-8. … BMC’s Arderrius Townsend was named the SSAC’s player of the year and was joined on the all-conference team by fellow Toppers Hayden Redding and Chris Smith. R.J. Stinson and John Snyder were first-team picks from Carey. The Toppers had two Gold Glove winners: second baseman Josiah Rivera and outfielder Tyrese Roberson.

02 May

name game

On this day in 2007, Jarrod Saltalamacchia set a major league record just by stepping up to the plate. The former Mississippi Braves star, making the jump from Double-A, debuted for Atlanta and set the mark for longest surname — 14 letters — in MLB history. (The record was “broken” in 2022 by a player with a double last name.) Saltalamacchia, also celebrating his 22nd birthday on May 2, 2007, was a pretty good player, sticking in the big leagues for 12 years, hitting 110 career homers and winning a World Series ring with Boston in 2013. “Salty,” a switch-hitting catcher with good defensive skills, arrived in Pearl in 2006 as Atlanta’s top prospect. After an unimpressive first tour of Double-A, he returned in 2007 and was batting .309 with six homers in 22 games when the Braves summoned him to Atlanta. He was traded to Texas in the Mark Teixeira deal that summer and would go on to play for seven different teams and wear eight different numbers during his career. … On the subject of former M-Braves catchers, there are three playing regularly in the big leagues, none for Atlanta. William Contreras, now with Milwaukee, is among the National League’s top hitters with a .345 average, five homers and 25 RBIs. Shea Langeliers, with Oakland, has six homers though he is hitting just .170. The well-traveled Christian Bethancourt, who shares catching duties in Miami with former Ole Miss star Nick Fortes, is hitting .028 in 15 games. … On the subject of catchers, Blue Mountain Christian’s Carson Gault went 3-for-4 with a double, a grand slam and six RBIs as the Toppers stunned top-seeded Faulkner (Ala.) 15-5 Wednesday in pool play at the SSAC Championship in Jackson, Tenn. Gault, from New Albany via East Mississippi Community College, is batting .367 with nine homers and 50 RBIs.

21 Apr

numbers of note

1,000 — Career wins for Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco, who has notched 900 of those W’s with the Rebels. The milestone came in Game 2 of a Saturday doubleheader at Georgia, which the Rebels won 3-2 to salvage a game in the SEC series. Ethan Lege homered and Brayden Jones delivered some clutch relief work for UM (21-8, 6-12).
20 — Wins for Belhaven University in coach Andrew Gipson’s first season. The Blazers split a CCS twinbill at Huntingdon (Ala.) on Saturday, getting win No. 20 in Game 1 behind the pitching of Colton Sylvester, who is 6-1 with a 3.13 ERA in 14 games. Staff ace Brett Sanchez (5-2, 2.86) won the series opener on Friday for BU (20-14, 9-5).
1 — All-time series wins for Blue Mountain Christian against SSAC rival William Carey University. After pounding the 25th-ranked Crusaders 19-5 in Friday’s series opener in Hattiesburg, the Toppers rallied to win Game 1 of a Saturday doubleheader 11-9. Ammon Murphy threw 5 1/3 innings of stellar relief for BMC (27-18, 11-16). Carey (27-14, 17-10) won the series finale 10-7 and leads the all-time series 33-8.
13 — Losses in the last 14 games for Millsaps College, which was swept in three games this weekend at Birmingham-Southern in its last SAA series of the season. Millsaps (14-24, 4-17) has one regular season game left — at home Tuesday vs. LeTourneau — before meeting top-seeded Centre next weekend in the opening round of the SAA playoffs. Centre swept the Majors in a three-game set last weekend at Twenty Field.
32 — Runs allowed by Delta State pitching in a three-game sweep at the hands of conference foe Lee University (Tenn.). The Statesmen are 25-19, 16-11 Gulf South, despite a negative run differential (286 scored, 292 allowed). The team’s staff ERA is 5.83, which actually ranks middle-of-the-pack in the heavy-hitting GSC.

20 Apr

big numbers

Behind Gabe Broadus and Davis Gillespie, Southern Miss rode a 10-run third inning to a 14-3, run-rule win Friday against Louisiana-Monroe at Taylor Park. But hold on. A few miles down the road in Hattiesburg, Blue Mountain Christian put up an even bigger number, stunning William Carey 19-5 at Wheeler Field. Carey entered the game in third place in the SSAC with a 16-8 record and is ranked No. 25 in NAIA. BMC came in with a 9-15 mark in eighth place. Carey led 32-6 in the all-time series in this burgeoning rivalry. But the Toppers went off Friday, grabbing the lead with a four-run fifth and scoring eight times in the eighth to add insult to injury. BMC had 16 hits and drew 11 walks plus two HBPs. Carey used six pitchers and all of them gave up runs. The Toppers’ big bopper, Arderrius Townsend, wasn’t a factor, going 0-for-2 before being ejected in the fifth inning. Stepping up, Carson Gault went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs; Josiah Rivera was 2-for-4 with a homer, three RBIs and three runs; and Hayden Redding went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs. A doubleheader is slated for today. P.S. Props to Spencer Turnbull, the Madison Central High product who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning as Philadelphia beat the punchless Chicago White Sox (and Ocean Springs’ Garrett Crochet) 7-0 in the big leagues. … Ex-Mississippi State star Brent Rooker came off the injured list Friday and homered — his third — for Oakland, but the A’s lost to Cleveland 10-2.

16 Apr

dynamic duo

A new version of “Thunder and Lightning” has emerged at Blue Mountain Christian, where Arderrius Townsend is providing the former and Hayden Redding the latter. Unlike the old Clark and Palmeiro duo, the sluggers at Mississippi State 40 years ago, the BMC pair are doing their thing a little differently. Townsend, a 6-foot, 230-pound junior from Pontotoc, has 22 home runs, ranking third in NAIA heading into a game today against Bethel. Redding, 6-2, 175, a junior from Mobile, Ala., is among the national leaders in stolen bases with 39. While those two have certainly carried their weight, the Toppers actually could use a little more power and speed. They are 24-17 overall but just 9-15 in the SSAC, with a big conference series at William Carey looming this weekend. Townsend, aka “Peeko,” who played at Northwest Mississippi Community College before a brief stop at Jackson State, is batting a robust .400 and slugging .952 with 138 total bases. His 70 RBIs ranks third in NAIA. Redding, who has been caught stealing just three times, is batting .364 with a .449 on-base percentage.

22 Mar

up and running

After stumbling out of the blocks this season, William Carey University may be hitting its stride. The Crusaders (15-9) have won five straight, including a conference sweep at Thomas University (Ga.) last weekend, and host sub-.500 SSAC foe Tennessee Southern this weekend (Saturday-Sunday) in Hattiesburg. Carey was ranked No. 4 in the NAIA preseason poll, coming off a World Series appearance, but lost its opener at home to 10th-ranked Missouri Baptist and wobbled through February. “It’s a long season and I think we’ll be fine,” longtime coach Bobby Halford said last month, acknowledging that some new faces would have to step up. The Crusaders are 7-3 in March. They fell out of the national rankings last week but appear poised to climb back in with a stretch of 10 straight games upcoming at Wheeler Field. Preseason NAIA All-America pick R.J. Stinson has played like one — batting .469 with four homers, 27 RBIs and 32 runs — and he has started to get some help from the rebuilt lineup. Bailee Hendon, a senior from Vancleave, is batting .299 with four homers and 27 RBIs, and Jerod Williams, junior from Gulfport via Southwest Mississippi Community College, is at .292 with 13 steals and 25 runs. Dario Herrera, a lefty from Panama, has posted a 4-1 record with a 4.46 ERA and 2023 ace Andrew Shirah is 3-2, 4.40. The glue of the pitching staff has been closer John Snyder, who has six saves and a 0.82 in 10 appearances. Carey is 7-5 in the SSAC. UT Southern is 5-7. P.S. Blue Mountain Christian’s Arderrius “Peeko” Townsend leads NAIA in homers (18) and RBIs (60) and ranks seventh in batting average (.484). The Toppers (20-8, 6-7) lost Game 1 today of an SSAC series against visiting Middle Georgia State. … Jackson State, coming off a rough loss at New Orleans on Wednesday, hosts rival Mississippi Valley State in a SWAC series this weekend. The Tigers are 16-5 and 2-0 in the league. … Alcorn State (1-13), which got its first win against Valley at Itta Bena on Wednesday, is playing a SWAC series vs. Southern University at Jackson’s Smith-Wills Stadium. … The state’s Big 3 NCAA Division I schools are on the road for league series this weekend: Mississippi State lost to Texas A&M on Thursday night, while tonight Ole Miss opens at Tennessee and Southern Miss at Georgia Southern.

13 Mar

steal this base

There’s a whole lot of thievery going on in Mississippi. Jackson State, which stole six bases in a win over Grambling State on Tuesday, leads NCAA Division I in stolen bases with 59 (in 63 attempts) in its 17 games, of which the Tigers have won 13. Belhaven University has swiped 63 bags (in 16 games), which is second-most in NCAA Division III. Rust College has 86 steals, ranking No. 3 in NAIA, and Blue Mountain Christian has 79 bags, fifth in NAIA. (Not sure what this says about the quality of catching at the NAIA or D-III levels.) At JSU, there is a team-wide emphasis on stealing bags, with three regulars having nine or more and two others bagging four each. Jordan McCladdie leads the Tigers with 13, followed by Rodney Hibler Jr. with 12 and Joseph Eichelberger — the .483 hitter — with nine. Rust is running with even more abandon, having attempted 105 steals in 25 games (7-18 record). Malik Berrien ranks second in NAIA with 24. Hayden Redding has 17 and Bryland Skinner (used most often as a pinch runner) 14 for Blue Mountain, which has bolted to an 18-5 start. Cole Fletcher leads Belhaven with 12. At NAIA William Carey, which has swiped 37 bases, Jerod Williams has 11. … The state’s Big 3 D-I schools haven’t caught the running bug. Southern Miss has just 12 steals, Ole Miss 22 and Mississippi State 23. No individual has more than six bags at any of the three. P.S. Blue Mountain’s Arderrius “Peeko” Townsend has been named the NAIA national player of the week after batting .500 with five homers and 12 RBIs last week. Note: Townsend, more slugger (15 homers in 2024) than sprinter, has swiped eight bases for the Toppers.