06 May

names to know

Slade Wilks, Southern Miss: Extended his hitting streak to 21 games on Sunday, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs, to spark USM to a 6-5 curfew-shortened win over Coastal Carolina, completing a sweep of the Sun Belt Conference series.
Jordan McCladdie, Jackson State: Went 5-for-8 with six RBIs and four runs to pace JSU (29-16, 12-11) to a SWAC sweep, 22-3 and 7-4, over Mississippi Valley State. Game 3 is today in Jackson.
Noah Magee, Delta State: Threw four shutout innings in relief as the Statesmen, who scored four times in the first inning, held off top-seeded Lee 5-3 to stay alive in the GSC Tournament at Oxford, Ala. DSU, now 30-21, gets Valdosta State today.
Blaise Priester, Meridian Community College: Banged out four hits, including a homer, and knocked in four runs to propel MCC to a 15-8 win over Copiah-Lincoln CC and into the NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament. (No. 1-ranked East Central and No. 13 Jones face winner-take-all Game 3’s today.)
Andrew Fischer, Ole Miss: Drove in five runs, three on a clutch double in the ninth inning, but couldn’t prevent the Rebels from suffering a brutal 10-9 loss at Auburn. (The Tigers, 4-20 in SEC play, scored the winning run on a wild pitch, a steal and a passed ball.)
Khal Stephen and Jurrangelo Cijntje, Mississippi State: Each notched his seventh win, combining to strike out 14 batters while allowing just four runs over 12 innings, as the Bulldogs took the first two games of their weekend series vs. Alabama. (Alas, State could not complete the sweep, falling 10-5 on Sunday.)

05 May

blast from past

Joining a list that includes Mark McGwire can be pretty impressive, at least when it comes to hitting dingers. Mississippi State alum Brent Rooker blasted two home runs in one inning on Saturday, becoming the first Oakland player to do so since McGwire in 1996. Rooker, born in 1994, told mlb.com he grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan in Germantown, Tenn., and followed McGwire during the slugger’s time with the Redbirds. “Being able to do anything the same as him is a huge accomplishment, and something that’s really cool for me,” Rooker said. Rooker’s bombs came in a 10-run third inning that propelled the surprising A’s to a 20-4 win over visiting Miami. Oakland is 17-17 with six straight victories. Rooker, a 2023 All-Star who also homered on Friday, is batting .240 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in 22 games, having spent 10 days on the injured list last month. As a BTW: Ex-Ole Miss standout Nick Fortes hit his first homer of the year for the lowly Marlins, 9-26. Also overshadowed by Rooker’s exploits was a four-hit game by another former Bulldogs masher, Nathaniel Lowe, who led Texas to a 15-4 rout of Kansas City. Lowe started the season on the IL and is batting .333 with a homer and four RBIs in 13 games since his return. He picked up two of those RBIs on Saturday. “I’m three weeks late to the party,” he told mlb.com, “so I have to get going.” The Rangers, 18-16 and second in the American League West to Seattle, visit division rival Oakland for a four-game series beginning Monday. P.S. William Carey University beat Blue Mountain Christian for the SSAC Tournament championship, the third tourney title in the last four years for coach Bobby Halford, who has a shelf full of trophies over his 39-year career. The Crusaders (34-14 with eight straight wins) will host an NAIA Opening Round tourney next week. BMC also gets an NAIA bid. … Delta State won an elimination game in the GSC Tournament and will play again today against Lee in Oxford, Ala. … Hinds Community College swept host Northwest Mississippi CC in their MACCC playoff series and advances to next week’s NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament in Poplarville. No. 1-ranked East Central, No. 13 Jones and Meridian all won their best-of-3 series openers on Saturday and will play again today.

04 May

big time

Any win is big this time of year in college baseball. Each of the state’s Big 3 NCAA Division I schools got one Friday, and big flies played a big role. Ole Miss, which is practically in desperation mode, won at Auburn 11-7 for its 24th win, sparked by home runs from Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters Jackson Ross, Andrew Fischer and Will Furniss. Surging Mississippi State picked up win No. 31, a 13-3 run-rule rout of Alabama in Starkville. The Bulldogs hit four bombs, including a pair by red-hot Hunter Hines, and Khal Stephen notched win No. 7. Southern Miss got win No. 29, getting a homer from Nick Monistere and three run-scoring doubles in a 7-2 victory against Coastal Carolina at Hattiesburg; Billy Oldham earned win No. 6. … In the MACCC playoffs, Hinds Community College pulled off an upset win vs. Northwest Mississippi CC in Game 1 at Senatobia. Braden Richardson, Cameron Hill and Tyler Jonas went deep for the Eagles, the latter hitting a late grand slam in the 9-5 victory. That best-of-3 series continues today, while the other three will begin. The series winners move on to next week’s NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament in Poplarville. … Delta State needs a win today to stay alive in the GSC Tournament at Oxford, Ala. The NCAA D-II Statesmen, seeded third, were upset by No. 6 West Florida, which got to closer Josh Hill for a run in the ninth in a 4-3 win. All-GSC pick Dylan Coleman was 3-for-5 with an RBI for DSU, which plays 7-seed Shorter today.

01 May

big wednesday

The Mississippi Braves play an 11 a.m. matinee today at Trustmark Park in Pearl, the pro game against Pensacola serving as an appetizer of sorts for tonight’s Ole Miss-Mississippi State clash at the same venue. The televised non-conference game (6:30 p.m./ESPN2) between the Rebels (23-20, 27th in ncca.com’s RPI) and Bulldogs (29-15, 28th in RPI) could have implications for their NCAA Tournament chances. UM took two of three from State in their SEC series last month. … Meanwhile, in Jackson, Tenn., William Carey University and Blue Mountain Christian will begin play today in the SSAC Championship. Carey (30-14) is the No. 2 seed and will open Pool B play against Thomas U. BMC (29-19) is the 8-seed and draws top-seeded Faulkner to start Pool A play. The winners of the two four-team pools will meet for the championship, with both getting bids to the NAIA Tournament. … The Belhaven University-MUW game originally scheduled for tonight in Clinton has been cancelled. The Blazers (23-15) have finished their regular season and will compete in the CCS postseason next week. P.S. The pairings are set for the MACCC’s best-of-3 play-in series, which begin Friday: East Central, ranked No. 1 in NJCAA Division II, hosts Northeast; No. 12 Northwest hosts Hinds; No. 13 Jones hosts East Mississippi; and Meridian hosts Copiah-Lincoln. The series winners advance to the NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament next week in Poplarville, home of regular season champion Pearl River, ranked No. 2 nationally. … Eli Huebner of Meridian was named the MACCC hitter of the week after batting .500 with three homers, including two grand slams in one inning, in four games, while PRCC’s Caleb Dyess earned pitcher of the week honors following his six-hitter in the championship-clinching 7-1 win against Northwest on Saturday.

30 Apr

see how they run

The Mississippi Braves, back home tonight for the first time in 16 days, have not been winning consistently, but Angel Flores’ club has been consistently aggressive on the basepaths. The M-Braves (7-14) have stolen 47 bases, tied for most in the Southern League, and have six players in the top 15 on the individual steals list. Maybe this approach will start to pay dividends for a team that has shown little power at the plate. Cody Milligan, in his third year with the Double-A M-Braves, has 10 steals, as does newcomer Geraldo Quintero. M-Braves veteran Justin Dean, who is batting .308, has swiped nine bags. Nacho Alvarez, the highly regarded shortstop prospect batting .292, has seven, Cal Conley six and Keshawn Ogans five. However, all this thievery has not translated into a bunch of runs thus far. The team is seventh in the eight-team league with 65. The M-Braves’ pitching has been solid enough: 3.64 ERA. Left-hander Luis De Avila (0-3, 5.82) will start tonight’s opener at Trustmark Park against Pensacola, a Miami affiliate which features former Mississippi State star Tanner Allen, hitting .273 with a homer and eight RBIs. Milligan comes in hot for the M-Braves, having hit .360 last week. … Of note: Southern Miss alum Hurston Waldrep (0-3, 5.68), Atlanta’s No. 2 prospect, is slated to start Game 3 on Thursday, and J.J. Niekro (1-2, 3.92), son of former big leaguer Joe, is set for Friday.

29 Apr

minor matters

Around the minor leagues: Jake Mangum came off the injured list Sunday for Triple-A Durham, tripled and drove in two runs as the Bulls beat Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 6-2. The former Mississippi State standout, in his fifth minor league season, is batting .367 with two homers and 10 RBIs in eight games for Durham in his first year in the Tampa Bay system. … Chuckie Robinson, the Southern Miss product, went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs for Triple-A Charlotte in the Chicago White Sox system. The 29-year-old catcher, now with his third organization, is hitting .297 with three homers and 12 RBIs. He reached the big leagues in 2022 with Cincinnati. … Ex-USM star Matt Wallner, sent down by Minnesota after a 2-for-25 start, is hitting just .194 with a homer and seven RBIs in nine games for Triple-A St. Paul. … Mississippi College product Blaine Crim has just 18 hits for Triple-A Round Rock (Texas system) but five have left the yard. … Kevin Graham, who played on Ole Miss’ 2022 championship team, is batting .385 (third in the Texas League) for Double-A Amarillo (Arizona system). … R.J. Yeager, who hit 18 homers at MSU in 2022, is batting .299 with five bombs for Springfield, St. Louis’ Double-A club. Yeager signed as a non-drafted free agent with the Cardinals two years ago. … Matthew Etzel, drafted out of USM in 2023, is batting .333 with two homers, 12 RBIs and nine steals for High-Class A Aberdeen in the Baltimore chain. Reed Trimble, a 2021 draftee by the Orioles, is batting .273 with five steals for Aberdeen but recently went on the IL, where he has spent a lot of time. … Former MSU standout Colton Ledbetter is batting .288 with three homers and nine RBIs for High-A Bowling Green. He was a second-round pick by Tampa Bay last summer. … Jackson Prep product Will Warren, a highly rated New York Yankees prospect, is 3-0 with a 4.22 ERA for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. … Ole Miss alum Gunnar Hoglund, the 19th overall pick in 2021 by Oakland, is 2-1, 4.39, for Double-A Midland. … Ex-UM standout Brandon Johnson is 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in seven relief appearances at High-A Quad Cities (Kansas City). … Former Smithville High star Jared Johnson, now in the Atlanta system, has two saves and a 0.00 ERA in six relief appearances for High-A Rome. … Landon Sims, one of the heroes of MSU’s 2021 national title team, is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA, a hold and a save in five games for Low-A Visalia (Arizona). He was the 34th overall pick in 2022 while down with Tommy John surgery.

29 Apr

big knocks

Hunter Hines’ two-run homer in the ninth inning on Sunday lifted Mississippi State to an 8-7 victory and a huge series win at Vanderbilt. The ex-Madison Central High star, who had three big knocks — including two homers — in Saturday’s win, is batting .284 with 12 bombs and 42 RBIs. With five wins in their last six SEC games, the Bulldogs have climbed to 12-9 in the league, 29-15 overall.
Gavin Caston’s two-run double in the third inning Sunday gave Alcorn State a lead and propelled the Braves to 6-1 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff at McGowan Stadium in Lorman. On Saturday, Dillon Brown smacked a go-ahead two-run knock in the fifth inning as the Braves rallied to win 5-4. Alcorn had not won a home game before Saturday and had won only two games all season. The Braves are now 4-34, 3-18 in the SWAC.
Austin Riley, the DeSoto Central product, delivered the winning run for Atlanta on Sunday with a 10th-inning single that beat Cleveland 4-3 at Truist Park. The Braves rallied from a late 3-1 deficit to improve to 19-7, best record in MLB. Riley needed a big hit: He was in a 2-for-22 slide entering Sunday and had just three RBIs in his previous 14 games. He’s at .234 with two homers and 14 RBIs for the year.

27 Apr

right place, right time

Adam Frazier doesn’t always play right field, but when he does … well, on Friday, the former Mississippi State star made one of the best plays of the year in MLB. Starting in right for the first time this season for Kansas City, Frazier took a home run away from Detroit’s Parker Meadows with a leaping snag at the wall, stuck the landing and fired a throw to first base to double off a runner. It was a big momentum play in the third inning of the Royals’ 8-0 win at Comerica Park — and even drew raves (on X) from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. “He wows me sometimes,” Frazier told mlb.com, “so to wow him, that’s pretty cool.” Frazier, batting just .207 this year, went 1-for-3 Friday with an RBI and two runs for the 17-10 Royals. Typically a second baseman, the 5-foot-10 Frazier was making just the 33rd start of his nine-year career in right field. P.S. The struggling Houston Astros (7-19) sent struggling MSU product J.P. France (0-3, 7.46) to the minors. France won 11 games for Houston in 2023. … Ex-Ole Miss standout Chris Ellis, who last pitched in the majors two years ago, has signed a minor league deal with Arizona. He had previously inked with the independent Long Island Ducks. … Ex-Mississippi College star Blaine Crim, playing at Triple-A Round Rock in the Texas system, smacked a double and two home runs, driving in seven runs for the Express on Friday night. Crim is batting .231 with five homers. … Blaze Jordan, the DeSoto Central High product, hit his second homer and extended his hitting streak to seven games for Double-A Portland (Boston). Jordan is batting .237. … Southern Miss alum Hurston Waldrep allowed just one run in six innings in his second straight quality start for the Double-A Mississippi Braves. After a rocky start this season, Waldrep has allowed just two runs in 12 innings with 10 strikeouts in his last two outings. The 2023 first-round pick by Atlanta is 0-3 with a 5.68 ERA. … In the college ranks: Rust will play an elimination game today (3:30 p.m.) in the GCAC Tournament at Smith-Wills Stadium. The Bearcats will meet the winner of an earlier elimination game between Wiley and Dillard. Unbeaten Talladega awaits in the championship round. Tougaloo was eliminated on Friday. … Millsaps College fell to top-seeded Centre (Ky.) 4-3 in the opener of their SAA best-of-3 playoff series. Majors ace Wil Wood let a 3-0 lead get away in the sixth and seventh innings; Will Norris took the loss.

25 Apr

closing it out

Making his entrance to the strains of “White Horse” by Chris Stapleton, ex-Ole Miss standout James McArthur rode to the rescue Wednesday night for the Kansas City Royals, pitching a scoreless ninth to save a 3-2 win against Toronto. “It brought a lot of energy for me,” McArthur told mlb.com, speaking of the choreographed entrance at Kauffman Stadium, which hasn’t seen a lot of excitement in recent years. It was the sixth save of the season for the 27-year-old right-hander, called “The General” by Royals broadcasters. The surprising Royals are 15-10, second in the American League Central. McArthur, acquired last year from Philadelphia, made his big league debut last June (after five years in the minors) and took over the closer role in September, going 4-for-4 in saves. In 11 appearances this year, the 6-foot-7 McArthur is 6-for-7 in saves with a 2.84 ERA. Mississippi State alum Chris Stratton, one of several off-season signees by KC, pitched a scoreless eighth on Wednesday and trimmed his ERA to 3.00. … Elsewhere on the bump: Spencer Turnbull, the former Madison Central High star, yielded a lone run and struck out eight batters in five innings for Philadelphia but was pulled with a 2-1 lead, which the Phillies’ bullpen squandered in a 7-4 loss to Cincinnati. Turnbull is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in five starts for Philly. … Garrett Crochet, the Ocean Springs High product, gave up five runs in four innings and fell to 1-4 with a 6.37 ERA for the woeful Chicago White Sox (3-21), who lost 6-3 to Minnesota. A converted reliever, Crochet had pitched well in his first couple of starts, not so much lately.

23 Apr

attention, please

Jordan Westburg might not be the first name that comes to mind when one thinks of the star-studded Baltimore Orioles lineup, but the former Mississippi State standout certainly grabbed some attention last week. Westburg batted .478 with two doubles, a triple, two homers and eight RBIs in the week that ended Saturday and was named the American League’s Player of the Week on Monday. The second-year big leaguer, who has started at three different positions this season, is batting .320 with five homers, 18 RBIs and 14 runs in 21 games for the O’s, who lead the AL East with a 15-7 record. He even got some MVP votes in an mlb.com poll announced Monday. Westburg saw a nine-game hit streak end on Monday, when he went 0-for-3 with a walk in a 4-2 victory at the Los Angeles Angels. He had five multi-hit games during that hit streak. A first-round pick in 2020, Westburg batted .260 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 68 games after a midseason call-up in 2023. P.S. The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament, featuring Rust and Tougaloo, begins with four games Wednesday at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson. Fifth-seeded Rust opens the double-elimination event against Southern-New Orleans at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Tougaloo, the 6-seed, opens against Dillard (Fla.) at 4 p.m. The top seed is Wiley (Texas), which went 18-3 in the NAIA league. Second-seeded Talladega (Ala.) finished 17-3. Third-seeded Dillard enters the tourney with a 10-game win streak.