The baseball branch of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame is quite impressive, featuring major league Hall of Famers Cool Papa Bell, William Foster and Dizzy Dean plus an array of other stars who could form a juggernaut of a dream team. That roster added a pair of luminaries on Saturday, when Barry Lyons and David Dellucci were formally inducted into the state shrine. Lyons, a catcher, was a standout at Biloxi High and Delta State (under the legendary Boo Ferriss) and with the Double-A Jackson Mets on his path to the big leagues. He was the proverbial aircraft carrier for the 1985 Texas League champion JaxMets. He debuted with the New York Mets in 1986, when they won their second World Series, and played parts of six more years in the big leagues. What’s more, he is one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet. Dellucci, an outfielder and also a very personable fellow, played four years at Ole Miss, earning All-America recognition and winning an SEC batting crown in 1995. He would go on to play 13 years in the big leagues, batting .256 and winning a World Series ring with the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, the team built (though not managed) by Buck Showalter. Dellucci now works for the SEC Network. Lyons and Dellucci join a Hall of Fame team that includes Guy Bush and Buddy Myer, Will Clark and Jeff Brantley, Don Kessinger and Joe Gibbon, Jim Davenport and Roy Oswalt, plus many more. Those are names to know. And if you don’t know them, perhaps you should visit the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson. You’d be impressed. P.S. On Saturday in San Francisco, Will Clark’s No. 22 was retired by the Giants in a big pregame ceremony. The former Mississippi State star was drafted No. 2 overall by the Giants in 1985 at a time when the club was struggling. Two years later, they won the National League West. Two years after that, they went to the World Series. Clark “made it cool to be a Giants fan again,” a teammate said. No. 22 jerseys and T-shirts were all over Oracle Park on Saturday. Clark was a five-time All-Star during his eight seasons with the Giants and still ranks among the franchise leaders in numerous hitting categories.
A way-too-early mock draft for 2023 by MLB Pipeline has Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez going second overall to Cincinnati and former Southern Miss pitcher Hurston Waldrep ninth to the Los Angeles Angels. Waldrep reportedly has transferred to Florida. … Former Petal High star and ex-big leaguer Anthony Alford, who turned 28 on Wednesday, is batting .244 with four homers and 17 RBIs for the KT Wiz in the Korean Baseball Organization. Alford, who has played in 102 MLB games, had four at-bats with Pittsburgh this season. … Oddly coincidental: Mississippi natives Nook Logan and Craig Tatum debuted in the big leagues on this date five years apart. Logan, a Copiah-Lincoln Community College product from Natchez, went 1-for-3 in his first game for Detroit in 2004, while Hattiesburg native Tatum, a Mississippi State alum, was 0-for-2 for Cincinnati in 2009. Logan was one of three Mississippians, along with Dmitri Young and Marcus Thames, who started for the Tigers on July 21, 2004, against Kansas City. Logan hit .268 with 56 steals in 321 games over four MLB campaigns. Tatum hit .223 over parts of three seasons. … The Double-A Mississippi Braves, off to a 14-4 start in the second half of the Southern League season, return to the field on Friday at Montgomery. The M-Braves have won six straight. The Biloxi Shuckers (6-12) return on Friday against Pensacola at MGM Park. … The state semi-pro tournament is slated for this weekend at Mississippi College’s Frierson Field. The venerable Hattiesburg Black Sox are the presumptive favorites. … The Triple-A Nashville Sounds are having a Tim Dillard Bobblehead Night on July 29 and will retire the former pitcher’s number in a pregame ceremony. Dillard, a Saltillo High and Itawamba Community College alum, pitched with the Sounds for parts of nine seasons and spent parts of four years in the big leagues with Milwaukee. … On July 30, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame will formally induct ex-Delta State star Barry Lyons and Ole Miss product David Dellucci, both former major leaguers, as part of its Class of 2022.
It was a quiet day for the few but proud Mississippians active in the majors. In Triple-A, however, it was a different story on Wednesday: Former Southern Miss standout Chuckie Robinson went 3-for-4 with his first Triple-A home run in Louisville’s loss to Iowa. Robinson, a good defensive catcher, started this season with Cincinnati’s International League club, was sent down to Double-A Chattanooga, then bumped back up a few days ago after hitting .276 in 31 games with the Lookouts. Delta State product Trent Giambrone, who had a cup of coffee in the big leagues in 2021, went 0-for-5 for Iowa, the Chicago Cubs affiliate. … Gulfport’s Bobby Bradley, who started this season in Cleveland, hit a pair of homers — doubling his season total — for the Indians’ Columbus club, which lost an IL game to Omaha. Bradley is batting .202. Ex-Mississippi State star Konnor Pilkington, who also has some time in The Show this year, gave up five runs in four innings as the Clippers’ starter but did not take the loss. USM product Nick Sandlin has joined the Clippers’ bullpen, sent down Monday by the Indians despite a 2.98 ERA, but didn’t work Wednesday. … Former MSU standout and erstwhile big leaguer Brent Rooker went 2-for-4, boosting his average to .281, for El Paso, San Diego’s Pacific Coast League team. … Former Ole Miss standout Mike Mayers, recently demoted by the Los Angeles Angels, made a rare start, yielding one run in four innings for Salt Lake in a PCL loss to Reno. Mayers has a 10.57 ERA in three Triple-A games. … MSU alum Jacob Robson, who made his MLB debut last year, went 0-for-2 but swiped his 12th base and scored a run for Toledo, Detroit’s IL affiliate, in a win against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Robson is batting .206. … Ex-Bulldogs star Jordan Westburg was 1-for-5 with an RBI for Norfolk and is batting .365 since his recent promotion to Triple-A by Baltimore. Ole Miss product Aaron Barrett notched a hold for Philadelphia’s Lehigh Valley club, which lost that game to the Tides in the ninth inning. … Rehabbing big leaguer Corey Dickerson, the former Meridian Community College standout, went 0-for-2 in his third game with St. Louis’ Memphis affiliate. Dickerson, 3-for-7 with the Redbirds, appears close to a return to the Cardinals’ roster.
Before the hype gets cranked up for the super-duper Super Regional set for Hattiesburg this weekend, let’s pause for a moment to appreciate the jaw-dropping performance by Ole Miss’ Tim Elko. The senior first baseman batted .778 and slugged 2.111 — yes, 2.111 — in three games in the Coral Gables Regional. His batting line from Monday’s game: 4-6-4-5. (Plus two walks.) You won’t see something like that very often. Elko belted three home runs in the Rebels’ 22-6 demolition of Arizona in the regional title game, a first in his five-year career and a first for any UM player in an NCAA Tournament game. He also broke the school record for homers in a season with 22. Brian Pettway hit 21 in 2005. With 44 career bombs, Elko is within sight of the Rebels’ career record of 48, set by Kyle Gordon in the 1980s. Elko’s place in Ole Miss lore was secured last season when he made that inspired return from an ACL injury and helped the Rebels reach a Super Regional. His performance in Coral Gables was icing on the cake — and, of course, he’s not done yet. We’ve been fortunate in the Magnolia State to witness some amazing slugging exploits in the last few years. Delta State’s Zack Shannon set the state all-classification record with 31 homers in 2018. He hit 50, second only to Dee Haynes’ 69 on the school’s career list, in his two years in Cleveland. In 2019, Matt Wallner hit 23 bombs for Southern Miss, matching the school record. He hit 58 in his three years in Hattiesburg, setting a school mark. (He’s now mashing homers in Double-A ball for Minnesota.) Current USM slugger Christopher Sargent — who batted .524 in five games in the Hattiesburg Regional — has rather quietly cranked out 21 homers this season with at least two more games to play in the Super Regional. … With Mississippi State, the defending national champ, sitting at home this postseason, no Bulldogs are mounting any assault on the school’s single-season home run record of 29, shared by Rafael Palmeiro and Bruce Castoria.
It’s championship week for the MHSAA schools and the NCAA Division I programs, and here are the hot spots:
Trustmark Park, Pearl: On Tuesday, Biggersville meets Resurrection Catholic in the Class 1A series, Pontotoc plays Sumrall in 4A and Neshoba Central meets East Central in 5A. On Wednesday, it’s Stringer-East Union in 2A, Amory-Seminary in 3A and DeSoto Central-Northwest Rankin in 6A. All are best-of-3 series.
Hoover Met, Hoover, Ala.: On Tuesday, Ole Miss plays Vanderbilt in a play-in game in the SEC Tournament. The winner gets No. 1 Tennessee in the first round of the double-elimination phase of the 12-team event.
Taylor Park, Hattiesburg: On Wednesday, Southern Miss, regular season champion in C-USA, gets UAB in the first round of the double-elimination C-USA Tournament.
Regions Field, Birmingham: On Wednesday, Jackson State, the 4-seed out of the SWAC East, opens SWAC Tournament play against old rival Southern University, the top seed from the West.
P.S. Delta State’s season ended Saturday with a 6-3 loss to St. Leo in the Division II South Regional. … Pearl River Community College, the No. 1-ranked team in NJCAA Division II, will play next weekend in the juco D-II World Series in Enid, Okla. The opponent has not been determined.
The most familiar name on the list of finalists for the 2022 Ferriss Trophy is Tim Elko, who is enjoying a monster fifth year in the Ole Miss program. The other four have put up numbers impressive enough to separate themselves from a huge field of candidates and merit recognition from the coaches and scouts who pick the final five. The Ferriss Trophy, named for legendary coach Boo Ferriss and first awarded in 2004, goes to the most outstanding four-year college player in the state. The winner will be announced in a ceremony on Monday at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson. Joining Elko on the list are R.J. Yeager of Mississippi State, Southern Miss’ Tanner Hall, Delta State’s Harrison Haley and Brett Sanchez of Belhaven. Elko is batting .301 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs for the resurgent Rebels, who have seemingly recovered from a midseason slump. Yeager, in his first season at MSU as a grad transfer from Mercer, has been a consistent hitter for an inconsistent club, batting .328 with 17 homers and 55 RBIs. Hall is a sophomore right-hander who emerged as an ace in 2022 on a strong USM pitching staff that carried the team into the top 10 earlier this season; he is 7-2 with a 2.60 ERA. Haley, a former Hinds Community College standout from Madison, is in his first year at Delta State after transferring from Southeastern Louisiana. He is 10-1 with a 3.84 ERA for an NCAA Division II regional team. Sanchez has been at Belhaven for three seasons after starting his career at Dakota State. The right-hander went 8-1 with a 2.01 for the Division III Blazers, who went 28-16, most wins for the program in seven years. In 2009, Belhaven two-way star Craig Westcott won the Ferriss Trophy and remains the only winner from a school other than the “Big 3” D-I programs; BU was NAIA at the time. State’s Tanner Allen was the 2021 winner. Previous winners include current big leaguers Drew Pomeranz, Hunter Renfroe, Chris Stratton and Nick Sandlin.
Eliminated on Monday from the Gulf South Conference Tournament, Delta State awaits a bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament. The regional fields will be announced on Sunday. The Statesmen (32-15), regular season champs in the GSC under coach of the year Rodney Batts, lost to Alabama-Huntsville 7-3 on Monday in Oxford, Ala. DSU went 2-2 in the tournament. The Statesmen got a South Regional bid in 2021, Batts’ first full season at the helm, but went 2-and-out at Pensacola, Fla. … Also awaiting its postseason destination is William Carey, champion of the Southern States Athletic Conference. Bobby Halford’s Crusaders will take a 37-15 record into an NAIA regional. … Millsaps’ season ended Monday with a second straight loss to top-seeded Birmingham-Southern in the Southern Athletic Association championship series. Jim Page’s Majors won 10 of their last 14, including a pod title, to finish 24-21. … Belhaven’s season ended Sunday with two losses to UT-Dallas in a pod championship showdown in the American Southwest Conference Tournament. Kyle Palmer’s Blazers went 28-16, most wins for the program in seven years. … Rust College, under first-year coach John Bates, plays Edward Waters on Wednesday in the NAIA bracket of the Black College World Series at Montgomery, Ala. The double-elimination pod winner will meet the NCAA Division II bracket champ in a title game. … In the NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament on Monday in Poplarville, MACCC champ Pearl River Community College plays Northwest, East Mississippi takes on Jones and Hinds gets LSU-Eunice. The winner of the double-elimination event gets a trip to the juco World Series.
For the second straight year, William Carey University wears the crown in the Southern States Athletic Conference. Behind a brilliant pitching performance by Chris Williams, the Crusaders beat Faulkner 7-0 Saturday, completing a 4-0 run through the double-elimination tournament at Columbus, Ga. R.J. Stinson hit a pivotal home run in a 13-6 win against Loyola-New Orleans earlier Saturday and drove in two more runs in the title-clincher. Carey (37-15) earns an automatic bid to the NAIA nationals at a regional site to be determined. Under coach Bobby Halford, in his 37th season, the Crusaders have won 18 conference titles (GCAC or SSAC) and been to eight NAIA tournaments. … Behind the brilliant pitching of Brett Sanchez, Belhaven University beat UT-Dallas 7-1 and moved into the championship round of its pod in the American Southwest Conference Tournament at Richardson, Texas. BU (28-14) plays UT-Dallas again today, needing one win to advance to the ASC title series. Sanchez (8-1) threw a complete-game six-hitter with nine strikeouts. Caleb Whittle homered for the Blazers. … Top-seeded Delta State lost to Lee University 9-3 and dropped into the losers bracket of the Gulf South Conference Tournament at Oxford, Ala. DSU (31-14) plays Montevallo today in an elimination game. … Wesley Lester’s 10th-inning grand slam boosted Northwest Mississippi Community College past Meridian 14-11 and into the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament. East Mississippi also won a Game 3 on Saturday, beating East Central 11-1, and joins Northwest, Hinds, Jones, LSU-Eunice and host Pearl River in the region tourney at Poplarville starting May 16. The region winner moves on to the NJCAA Division II World Series.
Nathan Herron put up what might just be the hitting performance of the year among Mississippi college players, belting two grand slams Friday to power Belhaven University to an 11-4 win against Hardin-Simmons in the American Southwest Conference Tournament. Herron, a sophomore third baseman out of South Panola High, hit five homers with 32 RBIs during the regular season. The Blazers (27-14) play UT-Dallas today in the second round of their double-elimination bracket at Richardson, Texas. In other postseason play: Delta State got a grand slam and eight RBIs all told from Blayke Dendy in a 13-0 run-rule win over Shorter in the Gulf South Conference Tournament at Oxford, Ala. Dendy’s eighth homer of the year backed the stellar pitching of Harrison Haley, now 10-1. DSU, the top seed, takes a 31-13 record into today’s game against Lee University. … Blue Mountain’s season ended with an 11-9 loss to Loyola-New Orleans in the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament at Columbus, Ga. The Toppers lost despite a seven-run first inning. Loyola moves on to play William Carey today; the Crusaders are 2-0 in the tournament. … A walk-off two-run homer by Justin Williams gave Hinds Community College an 11-10 win over Mississippi Gulf Coast and puts the Eagles in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament at Poplarville next week. The Eagles, under first-year coach Dan Rives, swept the MACCC best-of-3 series. Williams, a freshman out of Madison-Ridgeland Academy, went 4-for-5 in the clincher. Sean Smith had a grand slam and seven RBIs for Gulf Coast. … Jones College, under first-year coach Wes Thigpen, also advanced to the six-team region tourney by run-ruling host Northeast 11-1 to sweep that series. … Northwest is at Meridian and East Mississippi hosts East Central in winner-take-all games today.
In a showdown of in-state rivals on foreign soil, William Carey University beat Blue Mountain College 12-8 Thursday in a winners bracket game of the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament. Carey (35-15), the defending tourney champion, now gets a day off in the double-elimination event at Columbus, Ga., while BMC (28-25) faces Loyola-New Orleans for the right to play Carey again on Saturday. BMC upset 2-seed Loyola in the first round. Wiley Cleland drove in three runs and Branson Sharpley and Jordan Szush hit home runs to power Carey on Thursday. … Game 1 winners in the MACCC best-of-3 series were East Mississippi, Hinds, Jones College and Meridian. Jones was the only road team to win, beating Northeast in Booneville. The Game 2’s are set for today. The four series winners advance to the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament starting May 16 in Poplarville. … Rust College received one of the four bids to the NAIA bracket of the Black College World Series. The Bearcats (16-13) will play Edward Waters on May 11 in their double-elimination pod. The pod winner will meet the Division II bracket champ in a title game. P.S. Delta State and Belhaven open today in their respective conference tournaments, with the Statesmen meeting Shorter in Oxford, Ala., in the Gulf South and the Blazers taking on Hardin-Simmons in Richardson, Texas, in the American Southwest.