30 Oct

shout-out to …

Barry Lyons, who touched all the bases on his path to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, an honor that was announced Friday. Lyons was born in Biloxi, played high school ball there, became an All-America catcher at Delta State and starred for the 1985 Jackson Mets, who won the Texas League championship. He made his big league debut with the New York Mets in 1986, though he did not have a postseason appearance for the World Series champs. Lyons is still heavily involved in baseball on the Coast.
David Dellucci, an All-America outfielder at Ole Miss and an SEC batting champion who also earned the state Hall of Fame nod. Dellucci played 13 years in the majors and won a World Series ring with the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks.
Austin Riley, the DeSoto Central High product who delivered a clutch hit (again) for Atlanta, driving in the first run with a third-inning double in the 2-0 win Friday night against Houston in Game 3 of the World Series. “Hunting windows,” as he likes to say, Riley has produced seven RBIs this postseason.
Ian Anderson, the ex-Mississippi Braves ace who threw five no-hit innings at the Astros in Game 3. Anderson, who had a hand in a no-no with the M-Braves in 2019, has a 1.26 career postseason ERA, tied with Meridian Community College alum Cliff Lee for the second-best by any pitcher over his first eight starts.
Kendall Graveman, the ex-Mississippi State standout and Astros reliever who had not allowed a home run to a right-handed batter all year before the Braves’ Travis d’Arnaud took him deep on Friday night. Graveman has yielded just two runs in nine postseason innings for the Astros after posting a 3.13 ERA during the season.
Desmond Jennings, the former Itawamba CC two-sport star who turns 35 today. Jennings played seven years in the big leagues with Tampa Bay, batting .245 with 55 homers and 95 stolen bases.

04 Oct

these are the moments

The regular season is a wrap. Before the second season starts, here’s a tip of the cap to the best moments of 2021 by a Mississippian in the majors:
Best hit: Tim Anderson’s walk-off home run in the inaugural Field of Dreams Game on Aug. 12. The former East Central Community College star’s blast into the Iowa cornfield will endure as one of the great moments in this or any season.
Best pitch: Spencer Turnbull’s final fastball to Mitch Hanigar, which produced a swing and a miss and completed the Madison Central High product’s no-hitter on May 18. The no-no was the first ever in MLB by a Mississippian (native or school alum).
Best throw: Hunter Renfroe’s laser from deep center field to nail a runner at third base for the final out in a 2-1 Boston win on Sept. 8. It was the second assist of the game for the former Mississippi State star, who also homered to put the Red Sox ahead.
Best debut: Nick Fortes, who singled in his first career at-bat on Sept. 18, hit a home run in his second AB later in that game. The ex-Ole Miss standout was one of six Mississippians who debuted in 2021. Worth noting: George County High alum Justin Steele struck out the first batter he faced, and Delta State alum Trent Giambrone got a pinch-hit single in his first at-bat.

30 Sep

meaningful moment

Austin Riley drove in three runs in Atlanta’s win on Wednesday night, and Hunter Renfroe’s 30th homer helped Boston secure a victory. Important contributions in critical games. But the feel-good story of the night from a Mississippi perspective was what happened in a relatively meaningless game in Pittsburgh. Trent Giambrone, a 25th-round draft pick out of Delta State five years ago, delivered a pinch-hit single in his first major league at-bat for the Chicago Cubs. Louisiana native Giambrone, who was not on the 40-man roster, was called up from Triple-A Iowa after fellow infielder Patrick Wisdom was placed on the injured list. The 5-foot-8 Giambrone was not having a good year with the I-Cubs, batting just .174, but the Cubs apparently wanted to reward him for grinding through 493 games in their minor league system. He had some good numbers — 17 homers, 26 steals in the Double-A Southern League in 2018 and 23 bombs with Iowa in 2019 — and was impressive in several spring training trials with the big club. His eighth-inning single Wednesday had teammates in the dugout standing and applauding — a moment Giambrone will always remember. He became the sixth Mississippi product to debut in MLB this season and the ninth Delta State alum to make The Show. Others on that list: Barry Lyons, Stewart Cliburn, Eli Whiteside and Jim Miles (the first in 1968). P.S. Shea Langeliers, fresh off winning a championship with the Mississippi Braves and earning Atlanta’s minor league player of the year honor, made his Triple-A debut on Wednesday. Catching and batting sixth, Langeliers went 0-for-3 with a walk in Gwinnett’s 6-1 win over Jacksonville. He hit .258 with 22 homers for the M-Braves.

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.