10 May

next!

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.

07 May

slam dances

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.

06 May

winner, winner …

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.

04 May

may madness

Tournament baseball, with its air of finality, rarely fails to produce great drama. We’ve already seen it: Millsaps College, pushed into a winner-take-all game after a crushing 25-10 loss to Rhodes last Saturday, responded hours later with a 7-2 win to advance to the Southern Athletic Association championship series. Ryan Erwin and Wil Wood, both on very short rest, stepped up on a combo nine-hitter and Avery Brock hit a big home run for the 6-seeded Majors (24-19). They’ll meet top-seeded Birmingham-Southern (36-8) in a best-of-3 in Birmingham this coming weekend (Sunday-Monday) for an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Expect more drama this week. On tap today: William Carey, defending champion of the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament, plays Mobile and Blue Mountain meets Loyola-New Orleans in the first round of the event at Columbus, Ga. The winner of the double-elimination tourney gets an automatic bid to the NAIA nationals. Third-seeded Carey (33-14) placed three players on the all-conference first team: outfielders R.J. Stinson and Chris Williams and pitcher A.J. Stinson, 9-0 this season. Alex Frilliman and Dylan Hale made the team for BMC (28-23), seeded seventh. On Thursday: The MACCC best-of-3 series begin. East Central Community College is at East Mississippi, Mississippi Gulf Coast is at Hinds, Jones College is at Northeast and Northwest is at Meridian. Regular season champion Pearl River, ranked No. 2 in the nation, clinched a berth in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament, which starts May 16 in Poplarville. The four playoff winners will advance to the six-team bracket, which will also include LSU-Eunice. On Friday: Delta State begins play in the Gulf South Conference Tournament as the No. 1 seed, meeting 8-seed Shorter in the first round at Oxford, Ala. The Statesmen (30-13) won their 22nd GSC regular season title last weekend and will be seeking a 16th tournament crown. The winner of the eight-team double-elimination tourney gets an automatic bid the NCAA D-II Tournament. Belhaven (26-14) plays Hardin-Simmons at Richardson, Texas, in the first round of double-elimination pod play in the D-III American Southwest Conference Tournament.

30 Apr

what’s in a game

For the second straight year — and fifth time overall — Pearl River Community College owns the state championship. The Wildcats, ranked No. 2 in NJCAA Division II, clinched the MACCC crown with a 12-3 whipping of Northeast on Friday in Poplarville. The pitching of Dakota Lee and two homers from Alex Perry were key for PRCC, which will host the Region 23 Tournament at Dub Herring Park starting May 16. PRCC finishes the regular season 34-10, 22-6 MACCC. Northeast, which won the second game Friday, heads into a best-of-3 series next week with a berth in the region tourney at stake. The Nos. 2-9 seeds in the league face off in the four best-of-3 series. … Millsaps College won for the second straight day in the Southern Athletic Association Tournament and plays Rhodes today for the championship of its pod. The Majors, 23-18 with six straight wins, need to win once to advance to the SAA title series. Sam Pitre was 5-for-6 with a homer and three RBIs in the Majors’ 16-10 win against Centre on Friday. … William Carey pounded out 32 runs in a twinbill sweep of overmatched Talladega and heads to next week’s Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament as the 3-seed with a 33-15 overall record. Jake Lycette drove in seven runs in the two games for the Crusaders. Also headed to the SSAC tourney in Columbus, Ga., is 7-seed Blue Mountain (27-24), which lost its regular season finale Friday at Mobile. … Belhaven split a doubleheader at UT-Dallas on Friday, winning Game 2 8-0 behind the pitching of ace Brett Sanchez, and clinched the No. 3 seed in next week’s American Southwest Conference Tournament. The Blazers are 25-14, 18-11, heading into today’s season finale. … Most NCAA Division I Tournament projections don’t include Mississippi State or Ole Miss, but both helped their cause with wins on Friday. State (25-18) beat Missouri and Ole Miss (24-17) took down highly ranked Arkansas. Southern Miss, a favorite to host a regional at this stage, saw its 15-game win streak end at UAB. The Golden Eagles, a consensus top 10 team, are 33-9. Jackson State, coming off a disheartening 21-3 loss to Alabama State at home last Sunday, beat Alabama A&M 3-2 on Friday on a walk-off balk at Braddy Field. It was win No. 501 for coach Omar Johnson, whose erratic Tigers are 20-21, 8-11 SWAC. … Mississippi College (13-33, 7-21 Gulf South) stumbled to its eighth straight loss, 12-1 vs. Union. The Choctaws are going to miss the GSC Tournament; Delta State (27-13, 17-7), which didn’t play Friday, is vying for the No. 1 seed.

26 Apr

juco watch

As the junior college regular season winds down, Pearl River Community College holds on as the top-ranked team in the state and the first-place team in the MACCC standings. The Wildcats are ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA Division II poll with a 31-9 mark and have a 2-game lead in the conference at 19-5 with two doubleheaders left. Meridian is No. 8 at 27-11, Northeast 18th at 34-11 and East Central 20th at 27-13. Hinds and East Mississippi are tied for second in the state standings at 17-7, with Meridian fourth at 15-7. Among individuals, PRCC’s Tate Parker, a sophomore from Gulfport, leads the state in home runs with 14, ranking third in the nation, and in RBIs with 49. East Central’s Trey Lewis leads the state in batting at .478 and in steals with 23. Parker is batting .465, followed by Meridian’s Bo Gatlin at .434 and Hinds’ Vantrel Reed at .432. Northwest’s Ryan Lee has 13 homers and 46 RBIs, second to Parker on both charts. Just as Parker has been the best all-around hitter in the state, Northeast’s Colby Holcombe has emerged as a dominant pitcher. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound freshman from Alabama leads the nation in strikeouts with 104 (16.5 per nine innings) and ranks 11th with a 1.91 ERA, best among MACCC pitchers. He is 6-2 for Tigers. East’s Blayze Berry has a 2.22 ERA, also in the top 20 nationally.

30 Mar

gut check time

Things were quickly going south for Pearl River Community College on Tuesday. Freshly ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA Division II poll, the Wildcats lost a lead and lost the first game of a twinbill at Mississippi Gulf Coast, then fell behind in the first inning of Game 2 on a Bulldogs bomb. What’s the old saw? When the going gets tough … . The Wildcats got going, rallying for a 9-2 win behind two homers from Matt Mercer, a Petal High product, and the pitching of Leif Moore (St. Martin) and Cole Tolbert (West Jones). “I think a lot of the character of this team is coming out now,” PRCC coach Michael Avalon said in a school release. Tate Parker, the former West Harrison star who leads all D-II jucos in homers with 10, had a quiet day. But other hitters stepped up with big knocks in Game 2, including Mercer, D.K. Donaldson (West Harrison) and Preston Soper (Germantown). Moore shook off the first-inning homer to pitch four scoreless innings thereafter, and Tolbert followed with a strong two. The split left PRCC with a 20-6 overall record, 8-2 in the MACCC. Another challenge arrives on Saturday, when East Mississippi, 9-1 in the league after a Tuesday sweep of Itawamba, comes to Poplarville. P.S. Ole Miss, deposed from the No. 1 ranking in the Baseball America poll after getting swept by Tennessee, unleashed its frustration on North Alabama, pounding five homers in a 20-3 victory in Oxford. The Rebels, now ranked ninth by BA, are 17-7.

11 Mar

spotlight on …

Pearl River Community College has risen to No. 2 in the NJCAA Division II poll heading into its conference-opening doubleheader Saturday against Northwest at Poplarville. The Wildcats are 11-3, having last played last weekend, when Tate Parker’s walk-off homer beat Coastal Alabama-North. Parker, from Gulfport, leads PRCC’s potent lineup with a .426 average, six homers (tied for third nationally) and 19 RBIs. McComb’s Alex Perry is hitting .385 with five homers, and Oak Grove product Turner Swistak is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in four games, three starts. Northwest, not ranked, is 10-6 with six straight wins. Notable: Ryan Lee hit for the cycle in a game last week, reported to be the first time for a Rangers player since 2006. East Central is No. 5 in the national poll, Meridian No. 7, Northeast No. 15 and Jones No. 20. MACCC play starts this weekend.
Delta State has won seven straight, including a road victory against nationally ranked Southern Arkansas on Wednesday, and is 10-5 heading into a Gulf South Conference series vs. Lee University this weekend in Cleveland. DSU is 5-3 in the league. Chad Ragland is the reigning GSC player of the week; he hit .556 with a cycle in four games last week and went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in the win over SAU. Ragland is at .433 for the year for the NCAA Division II Statesmen.

21 Jan

spotlight on …

Jackson State’s baseball team will get some prime exposure on MLB Network next month. The Tigers are playing in the annual Andre Dawson Classic, a showcase event for HBCU programs, and will face SWAC rival Southern University on MLB Network on Feb. 19 (1 p.m.). The Andre Dawson Classic runs Feb. 18-20 in New Orleans and features seven HBCUs in its eight-team field. JSU is playing in the event for the first time. The Tigers open on Feb. 18 against Grambling State and will play Prairie View on Feb. 20. JSU went 24-0 in the SWAC and 34-9 overall in 2021 but lost in the ninth inning of the league tournament title game and missed out on an NCAA bid. JSU returns Nik Galatas and Chenar Brown, picked by Collegiate Baseball Magazine as the preseason pitcher and player of the year in the SWAC. P.S. The start of the college season is less than two weeks away. On Feb. 2, NAIA member Rust College visits Tuskegee for a doubleheader. William Carey University, another NAIA program, opens at home in Hattiesburg on Feb. 4 against Lindsey Wilson. NAIA Tougaloo College starts Feb. 5 with a twinbill at Xavier in New Orleans. … Defending MACCC champion Pearl River Community College starts its season on Feb. 9 at home against Baton Rouge CC. PRCC is one of four state jucos ranked in Collegiate Baseball’s Division II Top 20. East Central (the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament runner-up) is No. 6, Pearl River No. 9, Meridian No. 14 and Itawamba No. 17. Jones College has a new coach for 2022 with Wes Thigpen moving to Ellisville after a stint at Gulf Coast. The Bobcats open on Feb. 7 at Shelton State (Ala.). Bob Keller is the new coach at Gulf Coast, which opens Feb. 5 in a tournament at Bay Minette, Ala.

28 Jun

to cap it off

As it turns out, an undefeated record, a state championship, MACCC pitcher of the year honors and an All-America nod were just appetizers for Pearl River Community College redshirt freshman Landon Gartman. The season’s entrée arrived today when Gartman was named the winner of the NJCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year award. Gartman, a Memphis signee, went 9-0 with a 1.95 ERA for the 36-9 Wildcats. He struck out 81 batters, 12.2 per game. A four-time winner of the MACCC weekly top pitcher award, Gartman won his only start for the regular season champs in the Region 23 Tournament. The former Enterprise High standout will move on to Memphis, which is coached by Daron Schoenrock, a former pitching coach under Ron Polk at Mississippi State. Memphis, in the American Athletic Conference, went 18-39 in 2021.