29 Jun

numbers to crunch

2 – National championships by four-year schools in Mississippi: William Carey in NAIA in 1969 and Delta State in NCAA Division II in 2004. (Jones College won a junior college title in 2013.)
7 – Wins this season by Houston Harding, Mississippi State’s projected starter in tonight’s Game 2 of the College World Series finals. The left-hander also got a W in 2020 and won 19 in two years at Itawamba Community College. He beat Campbell in the regional and got no-decisions vs. Notre Dame in the super regional and Texas in the CWS.
3 – Wins this season by Christian Little, Vanderbilt’s projected starter in Game 2 of the CWS finals. The 17-year-old, 6-foot-4 freshman right-hander – a January enrollee — went 5 1/3 innings (one run) in a Vandy victory vs. Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament but was not the pitcher of record. He also worked against Tennessee, Louisville and Stanford.
873 – Feet covered by Hunter Renfroe’s two home runs in Boston’s win over Kansas City on Monday. Mississippi State alum Renfroe now has 11 homers on the year and is batting .340 with six bombs in his last 30 games.
1 – Earned run allowed by rookie Nick Sandlin for Cleveland in 10 June appearances. The Southern Miss product worked a clean inning in a win against Detroit on Monday and now has a 2.08 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings over 19 games.
0.47 – Brandon Woodruff’s ERA in three games vs. the Chicago Cubs this season. The ex-MSU star, 6-3 with a 1.89 on the season, will start for host Milwaukee tonight against National League Central rival Chicago.
1 – Hit, a single, in two at-bats for Blaze Jordan in his pro debut on Monday. Jordan, a third-round pick out of DeSoto Central High by Boston in 2020, is playing for the Red Sox’s Florida Complex League team.

27 May

just stuff

Oak Grove visits Northwest Rankin tonight to decide the MHSAA Class 6A South State title and berth in next week’s finals against Madison Central. All of the other state championship pairings are set for the big event that starts Tuesday at Trustmark Park in Pearl. In 5A, it’s Saltillo-Pascagoula, 4A West Lauderdale-Sumrall, 3A Booneville-Magee, 2A East Union-Taylorsville and 1A Tupelo Christian-Resurrection Catholic (Pascagoula). Madison Central is top-ranked in the state by MaxPreps and is No. 6 in the country. NWR is fifth in the state, Oak Grove 12th. Sumrall is No. 4, and Booneville is eight. … Southern Miss beat Western Kentucky in its C-USA Tournament opener, finishing off the 11-1 win at 2:59 a.m. today in Ruston, La. The Golden Eagles play again tonight, throwing C-USA pitcher of the year Walker Powell at Lousiana Tech. Ole Miss and Mississippi State both lost in SEC tourney play on Wednesday and face elimination games today in Hoover, Ala. Delta State starts play in the NCAA Division II South Region today vs. Tampa at Pensacola, Fla. … Braden Shewmake, the Mississippi Braves shortstop and Atlanta’s No. 4 prospect, is in the throes of a woeful slump. After an 0-for-4 on Wednesday against Montgomery at the TeePee, Shewmake is batting .086. He has five hits, one homer. He hit .300 over two levels in 2019. … Jacob Robson, the former Mississippi State standout, is hitting the pause button on his torrid start in the minors this season. But for good reason. Robson, a native of London, Ont., is off to play for Team Canada in the Olympics qualifying event in Florida next week. Robson, 26, a lefty-hitting outfielder, is batting .424 with two homers and 10 RBIs for Double-A Erie in Detroit’s system. He played in Triple-A in 2019, hitting .267, and has a .295 career average. He was an eighth-round pick out of Starkville in 2016. He’s not on the Tigers’ top 30 prospect list but has been in their big league spring camp the last couple of years. … Magnolia State products Hunter Renfroe and Austin Riley played a little tit-for-tat in Wednesday’s MLB game between Boston and Atlanta. Renfroe, from Crystal Springs, hit a 377-foot homer for the Red Sox in the second inning. Riley, from Southaven, retaliated with a 390-foot shot, also over Fenway Park’s Green Monster, three innings later. Boston ultimately won the game. … MLB placed Los Angeles Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway, a former Ole Miss pitcher, on the ineligible list through 2022, the culmination of investigation into numerous sexual harassment allegations. The Angels promptly fired Callaway, who hadn’t been with the team at all this season. … Ex-Ole Miss star Drew Pomeranz, now with San Diego, reportedly has suffered a setback in his recovery from a left shoulder impingement and could be out an extended time. He has been on the IL since May 13.

24 May

the unkindest cut

Three outs from the SWAC championship, with the league’s reliever of the year on the mound, Jackson State appeared to have a firm grip on its first league title in seven years, a just reward for a dominant season. It didn’t happen. O’Neill Burgos, a former hero at Brookhaven Academy and Jones College, played that role for Southern University on Sunday, belting a three-run homer to propel the upstart Jaguars to a 7-6 victory and the SWAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. JSU went 24-0 in the league in the regular season and won its first three tournament games at Madison, Ala. But the one that mattered most slipped away. There was some confusion initially about Burgos’ homer as Tigers left fielder Jatavious Melton crashed through the bullpen gate trying to run down the ball. Video review showed the ball cleared the fence. The Tigers went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth. Closer Steven Davila took the loss, his first of the year. JSU finishes with a 34-9 record; an NCAA at-large bid is most unlikely. Southern entered the tournament with a 15-27 record, lost its second game there and then won four straight elimination contests. The Jags, who have a number of Mississippi products on their roster, will head to the NCAAs after a sidetrip to the HBCU World Series in Jackson this week. P.S. After falling in the decisive game of the GSC Championship Series on Saturday, Delta State got new life on Sunday when it received a bid to the NCAA Division II South Region tourney at Pensacola, Fla. DSU will open with Tampa on Thursday in a region filled with GSC teams. … East Central Community College pushed second-ranked LSU-Eunice to a second game in the championship round of the NJCAA D-II Region 23 Tournament but ultimately fell to the Bengals 7-5 on Saturday. LSU-E goes to the juco World Series. … Ole Miss, once ranked No. 1 in the nation, faces a win-or-go-home game vs. Auburn in the SEC Tournament on Tuesday at Hoover, Ala. Mississippi State plays the winner of Florida-Kentucky on Wednesday to begin the double-elimination phase of its bracket. Southern Miss, the 3-seed and the defending champion in the C-USA Tournament, plays Western Kentucky on Wednesday at Ruston, La., in the double-elimination event.

21 May

nothing like it

Jackson State’s mettle was tested on Thursday. The Tigers passed. JSU blew a 13-1 lead against Grambling State in the second round of the SWAC Tournament at Madison, Ala., but won 14-13 on a walk-off hit by Jatavious Melton in the bottom of the ninth inning. Ah, there’s nothing like tournament baseball. Melton’s third hit and third RBI of the game scored Omar Gomez and kept the Tigers in the winners’ bracket of a tourney they must win to get an NCAA regional bid. JSU, which went 24-0 in the SWAC this season, is 33-8 overall heading into play today. Alcorn State stayed alive with a 3-2 win over Alabama State in an elimination game. … Elsewhere: Delta State fell to West Florida 11-4 in the deciding game of the Gulf South Conference championship series at Pensacola. All-tournament selection Jake Barlow went 4-for-4 but DSU could not overcome UWF’s seven-run first inning. The Statesmen (28-18) await a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament. … SSAC champion William Carey bowed out of NAIA regional play with a 7-2 loss to Central Methodist in the title round of the O’Fallon (Mo.) Opening Round. Carey finished 36-12. … MACCC champion Pearl River Community College’s season ended with a 5-2 loss to second-ranked LSU-Eunice in the NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament at Poplarville. The third-ranked Wildcats finish 36-9. East Central, behind the pitching of Jeremy Martin, KO’d Hinds and will meet LSU-E for the berth in the juco D-II World Series. No. 15 ECCC (29-18) must beat LSU-E twice to advance. … MUW finished third in the USCAA World Series in Pennsylvania. Damain Benefield and Trey Petite were named first-team All-Americans for the Owls, who closed at 21-13 in their fourth year of competition.

20 May

on the docket

Delta State plays West Florida in a winner-take-all game tonight for the Gulf South Conference Tournament championship at Pensacola, Fla. The Statesmen (28-17) lost Game 2 5-2 on Wednesday.
William Carey needs two wins today against Central Methodist to win the O’Fallon Opening Round (regional) and advance to the NAIA World Series. The Crusaders (36-11) lost to host Central Methodist on Wednesday before beating McPherson in an elimination game.
Jackson State (32-8), which won its opener in the SWAC Tournament, takes on Grambling State today in Madison, Ala., in a winners’ bracket game. Alcorn State lost its first-round game and plays an elimination game today vs. Alabama State.
Pearl River Community College and Meridian CC meet today for the right to play unbeaten LSU-Eunice in the NJCAA Division II Region 23 tourney at Poplarville. East Central and Hinds play in another elimination game.
The Mississippi Braves host a Double-A South doubleheader tonight against Chattanooga at Trustmark Park in Pearl. The M-Braves are 5-8 on the season after winning the six-game series opener on Wednesday night.

19 May

a little history

To a list that includes Hall of Famers Jim Bunning and Jack Morris and future HOFer Justin Verlander, add Spencer Turnbull. The former Madison Central High star threw a no-hitter for Detroit against Seattle on Tuesday night, joining those legends as Tigers pitchers to pull off the feat. As for the list of Mississippi products (native, prep or college alums), well, Turnbull is it. Natives Guy Bush, Claude Passeau, Boo Ferriss, the great old-timers, never threw one. Neither did recent college products Cliff Lee, Jeff Fassero or Pat Rapp. Weir’s Roy Oswalt threw the first inning of a six-man no-hitter in 2013 and Mississippi State alum Jonathan Papelbon worked the last inning of a four-man no-no in 2014. But those fall into a different category. Considering the rate of no-no’s this season – Turnbull’s is the fifth – it wouldn’t be a shock to see Brandon Woodruff or Lance Lynn toss one, but for now, Turnbull stands alone. “I don’t really know how to think of it in a historical perspective,” Turnbull told reporters postgame. “Just for myself, obviously, it’s the greatest achievement in my life so far, or at least my baseball career.” Turnbull threw 117 pitches at the Mariners, allowed two walks and struck out nine. He capped the performance by fanning Mitch Hanigar on three pitches, the last a 95 mph fastball that Haniger swung through. “You’re getting my best three pitches right here,” Turnbull said of his approach against the final batter. Drafted out of Alabama in 2014, Turnbull debuted in the majors in 2018 and is 10-25 with a 4.33 career ERA pitching for bad teams. He is 3-2, 2.88 this season for a 16-26 team. Contending clubs certainly will have noticed. P.S. Tigers catcher Eric Haase became the first rookie to catch a no-hitter since former Delta State star Eli Whiteside caught Jonathan Sanchez’s no-no for San Francisco in 2009. … Mitch Moreland, the ex-State standout from Amory, has gone on the injured list for Oakland with a rib injury. He is hitting .237 with four homers.

18 May

quest for sixteen

On March 14, Delta State was 6-10 after being swept in a three-game series by Lee University. But as they like to say up in Cleveland, tradition never slumps, and tradition – or something – kicked in. Today, the Statesmen are 27-16 and about to play for the Gulf South Conference Tournament championship, which would be the program’s 16th. They face a 3-game series against West Florida (32-8) in Pensacola with an NCAA Division II regional bid possibly hanging in the balance. “It’s going to be tough,” said second-year coach Rodney Batts in a YouTube video posted by the school. “But we’re still in this thing. You get to this point, anything can happen. You’ve got to beat the best.” In last week’s tourney bracket, DSU beat top-seeded Lee and, facing elimination, reached the championship series with a walk-off win against Alabama-Huntsville. Darek Sargent tripled and Chad Ragland singled him home for a 4-3 win. “There’s something special about this team,” Ragland said. Hayden White is hitting .361 with 10 homers, and Jake Barlow has 17 bombs and a .314 average. Hunter Riggins (8-4) and Christian Day (7-2) have been a good 1-2 in the rotation. West Florida’s lineup includes two Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College alums: Dylan Menhennett (.403) and Miller Hancock (.367). Both played for Batts during his tenure in Perkinston. P.S. William Carey won its opener Monday in NAIA Tournament play, beating Benedictine Mesa 2-1 as Sloan Dieter — who else? — threw a five-hitter and belted a home run. Carey plays again tonight in the Opening Round (regional) at O’Fallon, Mo.

14 May

coming events

The road to Lewiston, Idaho, will start in O’Fallon, Mo., for William Carey University, which has been assigned to the NAIA Tournament Opening Round hosted by fourth-ranked Central Methodist. Carey, champion of the SSAC Tournament, draws 19th-ranked Benedictine Mesa (Ariz.) to begin on May 17. The winner of the regional advances to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston. Tenth-ranked Loyola (New Orleans) is also hosting an Opening Round tourney, but Carey won’t get to make that short trip. Carey, as a 5-seed, beat the top-seeded Wolf Pack twice in the SSAC Tournament. Carey won the NAIA national title in 1969, one of only two championships by Mississippi four-year schools. (Delta State won the other.) The Crusaders’ Blake Freeman was named SSAC Tournament MVP after batting .474 with two homers (both in the title clincher) and was joined on the all-tournament team by pitcher Jorge Ramos and two-way star Sloan Dieter. … Jackson State, 24-0 and top seed from the East Division, will open SWAC Tournament play against West 4-seed Texas Southern on May 19 at Madison, Ala. Alcorn State, East 4-seed, gets West No. 1 Prairie View that same day. … Delta State heads to Pensacola, Fla., for the best-of-3 GSC Championship Series against West Florida starting on May 18. … MUW takes on Bryant & Stratton College-Albany (N.Y.) on May 17 in the first round of USCAA Small College World Series at DuBois, Pa. … And at Herring Park in Poplarville, the NJCAA D-II Region 23 Tournament, stacked with nationally ranked teams, begins May 17 with three games: Pearl River Community College vs. Hinds; Meridian vs. Itawamba; and LSU-Eunice vs. East Central.

10 May

here and there

William Carey University earned a bid to the NAIA national tournament by winning its first Southern States Athletic Conference championship on Sunday. Blake Freeman hit a pair of three-run homers and John Snyder delivered some clutch relief pitching to pace the Crusaders past Faulkner 11-7 Sunday at Mobile, Ala. Carey (34-10) won four straight in the SSAC Tournament, beating top seed Loyola (New Orleans) twice. The NAIA field will be announced Thursday; the Opening Round is set for May 17-20. … Delta State, 2-0 in the GSC Tournament, plays Alabama-Huntsville today in Oxford, Ala., for a berth in championship series. … In the junior college playoffs, Meridian, Itawamba, East Central and Hinds advanced to the NJCAA D-II Region 23 Tournament, which will start May 17 at Pearl River’s Herring Park. PRCC, the MACCC regular season champion, and LSU-Eunice are also in the six-team field. … MUW (20-9) will play in the USCAA Small College World Series in Dubois, Pa., beginning May 17. … The Texas Rangers claimed former Mississippi State catcher Jack Kruger off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. He goes on the 40-man roster and will likely be assigned to Triple-A Round Rock. Kruger made one appearance, on defense, for the Angels before being squeezed out of a roster spot because of a trade.

08 May

winner, winner

Hats off to William Carey University, which beat top-seeded Loyola (New Orleans) 9-6 on Friday in a winners’ bracket game in the SSAC Tournament at Mobile, Ala. R.J. Stinson drove in two runs and Patrick Lee scored four and the Crusaders profited from five Loyola errors. John Snyder got the last 11 outs for the win. Carey (32-10) will play tonight against the winner of an elimination game between the two teams it has beaten, Loyola and Mobile. … Delta State, behind the pitching of Hunter Riggins and the mashing of Kirkland Trahan and Jake Barlow, beat Valdosta State 12-2 in the GSC Tournament in Oxford, Ala. The Statesmen’s reward is a game against top-seeded Lee University today. … Jackson State moved to 22-0 in the SWAC with a 6-0 victory against visiting Mississippi Valley State. … Winners of the MACCC playoff openers were Meridian, Itawamba, East Central and Jones, the only visitor (at Hinds) to win. Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) are set for today. P.S. The season is over for Blue Mountain, which lost twice in the SSAC tourney, and Belhaven, which went 0-2 in the ASC Tournament in Marshall, Texas.