05 Jun

random (but relevant) numbers

200 — Wins for Michael Avalon as coach at Pearl River Community College, No. 200 being the national championship-securing 7-2 victory over Madison (Wisc.) College on Saturday in Enid, Okla. The Wildcats got homers from Tate Parker and Alex Perry, two RBIs from World Series MVP D.K. Donaldson and 12 strikeouts from Cole Tolbert and Turner Swistak, who combined on a six-hitter. PRCC follows Jones College (2016) as NJCAA Division II national champs. William Carey University (1969), Delta State (2004) and Mississippi State (2021) have won national titles at the four-year level.
3 — Hits by Peyton Chatagnier, including a key two-run double in the eighth inning that propelled Ole Miss to a 7-4 win against Arizona in the first round of the Coral Cables Regional. The Rebels get 1-seed Miami today; the Hurricanes used a three-homer game by Yohandy Morales to beat Canisius 11-6.
4 — Runs by LSU, three after two were out, in a stunning ninth-inning rally that led to a 7-6, 10-inning win against Southern Miss in the Hattiesburg Regional winners bracket. On a day when crooked numbers were flying all over in the NCAA regionals, these teams combined for 18 hits, five homers, eight walks, three HBPs, 28 strikeouts and 357 pitches in a 3-hour, 44-minute grinder played before 5,211 emotionally drained fans at Taylor Park. USM tries to rebound today against Kennesaw State, hoping (?) for another crack at the Tigers.
6 — Combined hits by Matt Wallner (four) and Blaine Crim in Wichita’s 8-7 win vs. Frisco in a Double-A Texas League clash (see previous post). Wallner, a USM alum, hit his 11th homer and drove in three runs for Wichita. Ex-Mississippi College star Crim boosted his average to .301 with a 2-for-5 effort and scored twice for Frisco.
21 — Hits in his last 15 games by Austin Riley, the DeSoto Central High product who tripled and homered in Atlanta’s 6-2, 11-inning win against Colorado. Riley is batting .339 with six homers and 12 RBIs over his last 15 games. He has 14 bombs all told for the Braves, who have won four straight to reach 27-27 on the season.

04 Jun

bunch of stuff

There is a lot to digest from a not-so-sleepy-or-dusty third of June: In the Hattiesburg Regional, the anticipated Southern Miss-LSU winners bracket game will take place tonight (6 p.m.) after the Golden Eagles blanked Army 2-0 and the Tigers rallied past Kennesaw State 14-11 on Friday. The Pete (Taylor Park) will be packed. … At Coral Cables, Fla., Ole Miss’ regional opener against Arizona was pushed back to today because of rain. … In Enid, Okla., Pearl River Community College pummeled Madison (Wisc.) College 19-1 to set up a decisive Game 3 in the NJCAA Division II World Series. No. 1-ranked PRCC rode the bats of Alex Perry (home run, three RBIs) and D.K. Donaldson (three RBIs) and the pitching of Dakota Lee (six innings, one run). … At Pearl’s Trustmark Park, the Mississippi Braves’ Jalen Miller reportedly hit a home run over the batter’s eye in center field — no mean feat — en route to an extra-inning win against Montgomery in the Double-A Southern League. … In Appleton, Wisc., ex-Hattiesburg High standout Joe Gray Jr. had a 4-for-5 game, including his seventh homer and ninth stolen base, for High-A Wisconsin. Gray, a highly rated Milwaukee prospect, is batting .202 in his second stint at that level. … At Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Corey Dickerson, the former Meridian CC star from McComb, hit his first two homers of the season for St. Louis in a blowout win against the Cubs. Dickerson, who chose to wear Mark McGwire’s No. 25 in his first year with the Cardinals, has 130 career homers and has hit as many as 27 in a season. He is batting .194 in sporadic playing time. … Ex-Mississippi State standout Brent Rooker has been called up by San Diego. The former Minnesota Twins outfielder, traded this spring, was hitting .242 with nine homers at Triple-A El Paso. … Ole Miss product Lance Lynn, on the injured list all year for the Chicago White Sox, made his second rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte and yielded three runs in four innings. … Colorado announced that left-hander Ryan Rolison, another former UM star, will undergo shoulder surgery and miss the remainder of the season. A highly rated prospect, Rolison has been on the IL all year. … And last but certainly not least, Jackson Academy outfielder Dakota Jordan received the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year award. The MSU signee, who aims to play football and baseball, hit .524 with 16 homers this season. He is ranked as the No. 176 MLB draft prospect by MLB Pipeline.

02 Jun

stalking a title

Pearl River Community College is two wins away from a place only one Mississippi junior college has ever been before: the national championship. The No. 1-ranked Wildcats beat Florida State College-Jacksonville 13-11 Wednesday night to advance to the best-of-3 finals in the NJCAA Division II World Series. PRCC (43-10) takes on 2-seed Madison (Wisc.) College in Game 1 tonight at Enid, Okla. Jones College is the only state juco to win a national title, bringing home the D-II crown in 2016. (Jones also has a runner-up finish on its ledger, as do Meridian, Northwest and Hinds.) PRCC, which has scored 40 runs in its three wins in Enid, put up a seven-run seventh inning for a 13-8 lead against FSCJ and then held off a late rally. D.K. Donaldson hit a big home run for the Wildcats, and Alex Perry went 3-for-3 with three RBIs. Madison College, making its fourth straight World Series appearance, is 48-9 after putting away Mercer County 3-1 on Wednesday. The WolfPack returned a large contingent of players from last year’s club, including Gunnar Doyle (a .381 hitter with 51 RBIs) and ace Jeff Thielke (8-2, 1.28), whom PRCC will certainly see in the title series.

20 May

party at the river

On a day when gloom enveloped Starkville and anger bubbled up in Oxford, there was joy Thursday in Poplarville, where Pearl River Community College won the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament title. The No. 1-ranked Wildcats, wearing their lucky gold unies, celebrated their 11-4 win against defending national champion LSU-Eunice with a huge dogpile in the middle of the field at Dub Herring Park. PRCC has punched its ticket to Enid, Okla., for the NJCAA Division II World Series. “This program is here to take that next step and I think they’re up for the challenge,” coach Michael Avalon said in a school release. Here are nine numbers to chew on as The River prepares for Enid:
3 — Trips to the juco World Series for the program in the last 20 years, two in the last four.
40 — Wins, marking the second time in the last three full seasons the Wildcats have reached that threshold.
7.0 — Average margin of victory in going 4-0 in the region tournament.
76 — Team home runs, sixth-most in the nation.
34 — Career homers, a school record, by Tate Parker, who hit the record-breaker, his 16th, in Thursday’s game.
.455 — Batting average this season for Parker, a likely juco All-American.
11.39 — Strikeouts per nine innings by Sam Hill (3-2), who fanned seven over six innings in the title-clincher vs. the nation’s fourth-ranked team.
6 — Wins by Dakota Lee, Leif Moore and Turner Swistak, tied for the team lead; they are a combined 18-2.
195 — Wins in six seasons, including the abbreviated 2020 campaign, for Avalon.

05 Jun

bobcats rule

Junior college teams in the state have played in the considerable shadow of the big schools this season. For one day at least, Jones County Junior College owns the spotlight. The Bobcats won the NJCAA Division II national championship on Saturday night, beating GateWay College of Arizona 7-1 in Enid, Okla. Ben Stiglets, a freshman from Gulfport, threw an eight-hitter with eight strikeouts, and World Series MVP Erick Hoard, a freshman from Brandon, led a 15-hit attack with a 3-for-6 effort as the third-ranked Bobcats (54-9) rolled to their first national title. Jones reached the championship round in 2011. Jones got homers from Mason Irby, Tanner Huddleston and Shelton Wallace in the clincher, its second win of the day. Stiglets (10-0) was knocked around by GateWay in the Bobcats’ loss on Monday but bounced back with a sterling outing on Saturday, continuing a string of such performances by Bobcats hurlers in Enid. “It kinda helped to get slapped in the face,” first-year coach Chris Kirtland told the Enid News & Eagle. Calder Mikell, Mason Strickland and Will Brand also stepped up as JCJC won its last four games in Enid by a 40-11 count. P.S. Elsewhere, Mississippi State is in fine shape for a regional title, Southern Miss faces an uphill battle and Ole Miss is done. The Rebels bowed out in shocking fashion Saturday in the Oxford Regional, when Will Stokes gave up a two-run homer in the ninth inning against Tulane. USM, after a 7-2 loss to Florida State in the Tallahassee Regional, will have to beat South Alabama today and then take down FSU twice to win the region crown. State is 2-0 in the Starkville Regional, needing only one win to advance to a Super Regional.

03 Jun

play ball

There’s baseball in Starkville and Oxford today, and in Tallahassee, Fla., too, where Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss begin the chase for regional championships. The fourth Magnolia State school still playing also gets back on the field in Enid, Okla. It will be a battle-tested but well-rested Jones County Junior College team that plays tonight in the NJCAA Division II World Series. The third-ranked Bobcats (51-9) haven’t played since Tuesday, when they beat Brunswick (N.C.) in an elimination game. JCJC now faces GateWay (Ariz.) College, 3-0 in the tournament, following an elimination game between Mercer County (N.J.) and Sinclair (Ohio). The Bobcats were in fine form in the 11-3 victory against Brunswick: Erick Hoard (a .402 hitter with 18 homers) drove in three runs and Clint Sasser (.382 with 84 runs) scored three, Calder Mikell earned his 11th win with a strong start and Brunswick pitchers contributed 11 walks and five HBPs. For tonight’s game, pitching-rich Jones likely will bring back Mason Strickland (11-0), the starter from its Game 1 victory last Saturday.

27 May

title search

Based on their numbers, the Scots of McHenry County College have fast legs and power arms. The team that Jones County Junior College will face in its opener Saturday in the NJCAA Division II World Series has swiped 140 bases in 57 games and rolls out three starting pitchers who average 10 or more strikeouts per game. McHenry, located in Illinois, is 44-13 and won the Region 4 championship to advance to Enid, Okla. JCJC, the Region 23 champ, is 49-8. This is the first World Series appearance for McHenry, the second for Jones. The Scots are led offensively by the speedy duo of Riley Richarz (35 steals, .406) and Nick Vasic (31, .413). Clay Brinkman (.373, six homers, 64 RBIs) and Brett Stratinsky (nine homers) supply some thunder. The pitching staff, which has a collective 3.42 ERA, features Andrew Reisinger (10-0), Jack Granath (8-0) and Reilly Peltier (7-2). Third-ranked Jones, which took out No. 1 LSU-Eunice and No. 10 East Central in its regional, can also run and pitch a little, among other things. Top players for the Bobcats are Mason Irby (.410, seven homers, 72 RBIs, 30 steals), Erick Hoard (.397, 17 HRs, 72 RBIs), Clint Sasser (.389, 47 steals), Mason Strickland (10-0, 2.85) and Calder Mikell (9-1). The 10-team World Series field includes No. 2-ranked Mercer County from New Jersey and No. 5 Sinclair of Ohio as well as teams from New York to North Carolina to Arizona.

31 May

wow

Jackson State — No. 271 in the RPI — beats No. 1-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette 1-0 in the NCAA regionals at Lafayette, La., on Friday night. Biggest win in Tigers history. Definitely. … Hinds Community College beats Madison (Wis.) 12-6 in the NJCAA Division II World Series. The Eagles play for the national championship tonight against No. 1 Mesa (Ariz.). Only two Mississippi colleges have ever won national baseball titles: Delta State in 2004 and William Carey in 1969. … The Mississippi Braves sweep a doubleheader (7-0 and 7-0) from Pensacola — completing a sweep of the five-game series at Trustmark Park — and are now just 1 game back of first-place Mobile in the Southern League South.

29 May

a few atta boys

Toler Robinson of Pearl delivered a walk-off RBI double in the 13th inning on Wednesday night as Hinds Community College beat Madison (Wis.) 8-7 in the NJCAA Division II World Series. Austin Sanders of Madison worked four scoreless innings for the win. The Eagles are 4-0 in the tournament and play No. 1-ranked Mesa (Ariz.) in a semifinal round game today in Enid, Okla. … Mycal Jones got three hits, scored a run and drove in one as the Mississippi Braves beat Pensacola 5-4 in 13 innings at Trustmark Park. Jones is hitting .322 for the M-Braves, now 30-22 on the campaign. … JaCoby Jones, the former Mr. Baseball from Richton, went 3-for-6 with a home run, two runs and two RBIs for Class A West Virginia (Pittsburgh Pirates). Jones is batting .270 with six homers, 23 RBIs and 32 runs. … Tommy La Stella got two hits in his first major league game for Atlanta; the second baseman is the 85th M-Braves alumnus to advance to The Show. … Former M-Braves standout Brian McCann played flawlessly in his first pro start at first base and delivered two hits in a New York Yankees victory over St. Louis. … Jarrod Dyson, the ex-Southwest Mississippi CC star, stole two bases for Kansas City to boost his season total to nine. In limited playing time, Dyson is fourth in the Mississippians in MLB Stolen Base Race, trailing Billy Hamilton (18), Brian Dozier (12) and Desmond Jennings (11). … Last but certainly not least, T.J. House, the Picayune High product, worked 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits with eight strikeouts and a walk in his second career MLB start for Cleveland. The Indians wound up losing 3-2 to the Chicago White Sox. P.S. Ex-Ole Miss pitcher Phil Irwin has been claimed on waivers by Texas (from Pittsburgh) and assigned to Triple-A Round Rock.

28 May

standing tall

It’s getting very interesting for Hinds Community College in the NJCAA Division II World Series. Only two unbeatens remain in the double-elimination tournament – and the Eagles are one of them. Half of the original 10-team field has been sent home, and another will be eliminated in today’s first game at Enid, Okla., when Mercer County (N.J.) plays Pasco-Hernando (Fla.). Hinds (38-19 overall, 3-0 in Enid) meets fellow unbeaten Madison (Wis.) in the second game. Hinds beat Pasco-Hernando 9-4 on Tuesday behind the brilliant pitching of freshman Houston Case (five-hit complete game) and homers from Matt Jones (his 10th) and Marshall Boggs. Madison, which has played only two games, had Tuesday off. The Wolfpack is 44-15. Keith Browning leads the hitters with a .372 average and 42 RBIs. The pitching staff has a 2.84 ERA for the season and has yielded just three runs in the tournament. For what it’s worth, Madison also has a lot of impressive history: eight juco World Series appearances and three national titles (the last in 1997). The Wolfpack finished third last year. Win or lose tonight, Hinds will play again on Thursday. Mesa (Ariz.) will play the Hinds-Madison winner.