Mississippi College’s Dylan Marsh had the magic touch last week. The senior right-hander from Lake Cormorant (via Louisiana-Monroe) pitched in four games for the Choctaws and notched two saves and two wins. Not surprisingly, he earned the Gulf South Conference’s pitcher of the week honor, which was announced today. Marsh worked a total of seven innings, allowing just two hits and an unearned run while fanning 11. He got the wins in MC’s back-to-back, extra-inning, walk-off victories over Auburn-Montgomery on Sunday. Those wins stretched the Choctaws’ streak to seven. They have climbed to 15-15 overall and 12-13 in the GSC with two league series remaining, including the finale vs. Delta State. Dakota Kennedy has paced the MC attack with a .385 average. Ken Scott and Caleb Reese have supplied power with eight homers each, and Dylan Duplechain has added seven. Jackson Bridges (5-2), Payton Russell (3-3) and Bryce Lewis (2-4) have been reliable starters. MC currently sits seventh in the league standings. DSU is tied for fourth at 18-11. The top eight teams make the GSC Tournament field. … DSU’s Hayden White, a junior from Madison and MRA, was named the GSC player of the week after hitting .667 with three homers, seven RBIs and 10 runs in four wins. He is at .367 with eight homers and 37 RBIs for the year. The Statesmen (21-11 overall) have won 15 of their last 16.
If either Ole Miss or Mississippi State were looking ahead to this weekend’s main event in Starkville, it did not show on Tuesday. The Rebels, behind Cael Baker’s six RBIs, thumped Austin Peay 13-1 and the Bulldogs, blasting five home runs, dismissed Arkansas State 18-10 in midweek “tuneups” before the huge SEC clash set for Dudy Noble Field. Game 1 of the three-game series is Friday at 6 p.m. SEC Network will televise it. Both teams enter with 8-4 league marks, tied for second in the West, and top 10 national rankings. Kids on sandlots across Mississippi dream of playing in such a series. This weekend, some get that chance. On paper, this is the classic great pitching (State) vs. great hitting (UM) matchup. The Bulldogs are second in the SEC in ERA and tops in punchouts; the Rebels lead in runs and are second in batting. But Ole Miss’ pitching staff has its fair share of pro prospects, and State’s lineup has produced eight or more runs in a game 13 times. Chops are being licked on both sides. Anything can happen in this series – and probably will. … All eyes in the Magnolia State will not be trained on Starkville, however. Surging Southern Miss (21-10, 8-3 C-USA) has a four-game set at nationally ranked Louisiana Tech, which took three of four from the Golden Eagles in Hattiesburg last month. Jackson State, led by Chenar Brown (.379, eight homers, 39 RBIs), is an amazing 15-0 in SWAC play and welcomes rival Alcorn State for a three-game set at Braddy Field.
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.
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.
Ole Miss fans love history and they love Archie, and the current Rebels team has triggered chatter about both. The Rebels are 6-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1969, which, as the folks on the SEC Now show dutifully pointed out today, is back when Archie Manning was their shortstop. Manning was not the star of the ’69 team, which was the last of coach Tom Swayze’s four league champions, and neither was future big leaguer Steve Dillard, also an infielder on that club. The team’s two All-SEC picks were Whitey Adams and Ed McLarty. John Shaw, who held UM’s career stolen base record for many years, was on that team, along with pitching stalwarts Fred Selser and Ken Kauerz. The ’69 Rebels won the SEC title by beating Florida in a playoff series, won a regional (called a district championship in those days) and went to the College World Series, where they ousted in their third game by Texas. It’s much, much too soon to suggest the current Rebels are bound for such glory, but they do have the ingredients of a great club. Led by SEC Triple Crown contender Tim Elko, the big first baseman who is batting .341 with nine homers and 34 RBIs, UM (20-4) is batting .282 as a team and scoring 7.5 runs a game. Pro prospects Gunnar Hoglund (3-0, 2.63 ERA) and Doug Nikhazy (2-1, 3.10) have lived up to their billing. Yes, the SEC schedule is a gauntlet: There are nationally ranked teams lurking practically every weekend. But the Rebels have woken up some inspiring echoes.
Nineteen games into its season, Southern Miss still isn’t hitting. Pitching, on the front and back end of games, has carried the Golden Eagles to a 13-6 record and will be leaned on again this weekend in Hattiesburg in their C-USA opening series against Louisiana Tech. “We’ll hang our hat on our guys and what they’ve been able to accomplish to this point,” USM coach Scott Berry said in a video conference with media this week. Batting .208 as a team, USM faces a tough Tech pitching staff (3.27 ERA) led by No. 1 starter Jonathan Fincher (3-0, 1.50). The nationally ranked Bulldogs (14-5), coached by Mississippi native and former USM assistant Lane Burroughs, roll out three .300 hitters and are at .287 as a club. USM counters with a pitching staff that ranks among the nation’s best in ERA (2.91) and walks per nine innings (2.16), which Berry cites as a key stat. The starting pool of Hunter Stanley, Walker Powell, Ben Ethridge and Drew Boyd has been consistently effective, and closer Garrett Ramsey has been lights out. Taking over Stanley’s role from 2020, former Northwest Rankin High and Hinds Community College star Ramsey is seven-for-seven in save opps, has yet to allow a run in 7 2/3 innings and features a 14-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Runs may be at a premium at Taylor Park this weekend.
If sports polls are a show of respect, then Mississippi baseball is getting plenty of it. Mississippi State is ranked No. 2 and Ole Miss No. 4 in Baseball America’s NCAA Division I poll, and both schools are in the top 10 in just about every other D-I ranking. Jackson State, off to a 6-0 start in SWAC play, is ranked No. 1 in the Black College Nines HBCU Top 10. Pearl River Community College is No. 2 in the NJCAA’s Division II poll, and three other state jucos are also ranked, including East Central (which is No. 16 despite leading the MACCC standings with a 13-3 record). William Carey is No. 14 in the current NAIA poll and shouldn’t lose much ground after going 1-2 at No. 6 Faulkner last weekend, dropping the rubber game 6-5 in 10 innings. Belhaven, 13-5 and 8-1 in the American Southwest Conference, got votes in this week’s d3baseball.com Top 25 poll. (Note: There are 389 D-III baseball schools vying for attention.) And then there’s the high school ranks, where Madison Central has risen to No. 4 in the MaxPreps Top 25. The Jaguars, led by Stanford signee Braden Montgomery and State signee Hunter Hines, are 14-0 and have won by such scores as 20-2, 21-5, 16-0, 15-1, 15-3 and 13-1.
The SEC openers for Mississippi State (vs. LSU) and Ole Miss (vs. Auburn) are the main course options this weekend, but there is a delectable side dish on the college menu. William Carey, off to a 15-2 start and ranked 14th in the NAIA coaches’ poll, opens conference play with a stern test. The Crusaders visit No. 6 Faulkner (10-1) in the Southern States Athletic Conference opener for both schools. Bobby Halford, in his 36th year as Carey coach, should get a good read on the strength of his 2021 team, which has played just one road game to date. Jay Johnston, at .417, leads five Crusaders regulars batting .300 or better. Chris Williams is at .333 with three home runs and 19 RBIs. Sloan Dieter has been a two-way factor with a team-high four homers and a 3-1, 1.99 ERA on his pitching ledger. Faulkner, idle since Feb. 27, is always a formidable foe. Under 12th-year coach Patrick McCarthy, a onetime Mississippi College grad assistant, the Eagles have been to the NAIA World Series eight of the last nine years, winning it all in 2013.
In its last five games, Jackson State has hung up these numbers: 16, 7, 10, 30 and 15. These aren’t football scores, mind you. While Deion Sanders and his gridiron gang have been drawing the lion’s share of attention lately, Omar Johnson’s baseball team has ripped off eight straight wins thanks mainly to a prolific attack. The Tigers beat Grambling 15-8 in a non-conference road game on Wednesday. They scored 47 runs in a three-game blitz of Alcorn State at Lorman over last weekend. JSU, which doesn’t play again until next week, is 11-5 and 6-0 in the SWAC. The pitching – see the 6.45 staff ERA – might need to shape up, but the offense looks to be in fine form. The Tigers don’t hit many homers, but they get on base (.403 OBP), steal bases (49 in 54 attempts) and score (8.5 runs per game). There are many contributors. Chandler Dillard, from Madison, is batting .409 with a .481 OBP, 20 RBIs, 14 runs and eight steals. Jatavious Melton (Natchez) has a .433 OBP, 14 runs and a team-best 10 steals. Chenar Brown is batting .321 with 15 RBIs, and Wesley Reyes (.338 OBP) leads the team with 15 runs. C.J. Newsome (Columbia) is getting on at a .392 clip. Staff ace Nik Galatas has benefited from the potent offense; he is 3-2 despite a 5.74 ERA. Anthony Becerra, another starter, is 2-1, 3.18. Bullpen stalwart Steven Davila has two wins and two saves with a 6.89 ERA. While pitching is typically the key to any championship run, JSU might just have enough offense to carry it in the SWAC.