The state’s high school player of the year and a handful of Mississippi State players are among the 255 prospects taking part in this week’s MLB Draft Combine at Petco Park in San Diego. Jackson Academy star Dakota Jordan is one of two Mississippi high school players at the combine, joined by Emaarion Boyd from South Panola. MSU alums Logan Tanner, Landon Sims (recovering from spring Tommy John surgery), Kamren James and Jackson Fristoe are also there, along with Southern Miss’ Tyler Stuart and Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Colby Holcombe. Three Ole Miss players — Hayden Dunhurst, Derek Diamond and T.J. McCants — are on the list of invitees, but, of course, they have other business to attend to in Omaha. MLB Network will televise portions of the workouts today and Friday beginning at 11 a.m. The MLB draft starts on July 17. Sims, who missed most of the 2022 season after helping the Bulldogs win the national title in 2021, is pegged to go 35th overall to Kansas City by MLB Pipeline in its latest mock draft; the right-hander is the only state player projected to go on the first day. … Holcombe, a State commit, is one of the most intriguing players at the combine. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound right-hander from Alabama went 7-3 with a 2.60 ERA in 12 starts for Northeast, striking out 115 batters in 65 2/3 innings. P.S. MSU product Nathaniel Lowe was part of a history-making occurrence on Wednesday but not in a desirable way. Lowe, playing for Texas, was the first strikeout victim in both of the immaculate innings recorded by Houston pitchers. It’s a rare feat: nine pitches, all strikes, three strikeouts. The Astros’ Luis Garcia and Phil Maton turned the trick, reportedly the first time an MLB team has done it twice in the same game. To his credit, Lowe is batting .276 with eight homers for the Rangers.
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.
This should be good. Hinds Community College and LSU-Eunice, ranked 1-2 in the NJCAA Division II poll, will meet tonight in a winner’s bracket game in the Region 23 Tournament at Eunice, La. The Eagles (42-5) clubbed East Mississippi 12-1 on Thursday, and LSU-E (42-9) routed Northwest Mississippi 12-0. Hinds and LSU-E did not meet in the regular season, though the Bengals did play a couple of MACJC schools. Randy Bell got the win against EMCC and moved to 12-0 for Hinds. Jonathan Washam went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs, and Tyler Cox belted a two-run homer. LSU-E was powered by Steven Sensley, who hit his 18th homer, and Madison Nickens, who had three hits. The Bengals threw ace Mitch Sewald (12-1) on Thursday, so the Eagles might face lefty Ben Braymer, who has 113 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings. P.S. Jim Page notched his 700th win as Millsaps coach on Thursday when the Majors held off Whitworth 7-6 in the first round of the NCAA Division III West Regional. Annon Etheridge and Andy Page had two RBIs apiece for Millsaps. The Majors’ next game is today against old rival Trinity (Texas) in the weather-plagued tournament at Tyler, Texas. … Omar Johnson got win No. 300 at Jackson State when the Tigers beat Prairie View 10-1 in a SWAC Tournament elimination game. Jevon Jacobs threw a six-hitter with 13 strikeouts. The Tigers play Alabama State today. Alcorn State also stayed alive on Thursday, beating Alabama A&M 13-3 behind Cedric Walker’s complete game. The Braves earned a rematch with Texas Southern, which beat them on Wednesday. … Northeast Mississippi CC announced that assistant Richy Harrelson will replace Kent Farris as head coach. Farris is now the school’s athletic director. Harrelson was a legendary prep player at Iuka and Tishomingo County before going on to star at Ole Miss. He also worked as an assistant at Southern Miss.
The appetizer at noon on Thursday features Hinds Community College, seeking an eighth state championship, and East Central, the defending state champion but an upstart in this postseason. The main course, served up at 4 at White Field in Booneville, will be Jones County JC, the No. 1 team in NJCAA Division II, and host Northeast, riding a wave of momentum after a dramatic playoff series win over Pearl River (see previous post). Hinds (29-16) is led by Matt Jones, a former Madison Central High star, and Casey Sutton, who swept the MACJC weekly awards after their performances in the playoff series against Northwest. Jones, 4-for-8 with two home runs against the Rangers, is batting .354 with six homers, 32 RBIs and 32 runs. Sutton is 6-2 with a 3.82 ERA after tossing a three-hit complete game vs. Northwest. The Eagles face an East Central team coming off a stunning upset of North Division champ East Mississippi. Neal Holliman’s Warriors (23-25) are led by sluggers John Morgan Berry and Maxwell Harmon and pitcher Ty Hendrix, who stymied East Mississippi in Game 3 last Saturday. From all indications, Jones County is loaded. Chase Hensley is hitting .408, Tyler Graves .377 and Trent Giambrone .373 with 36 RBIs and 48 runs. Westin Stringer, the former Terry High star, is 10-2 with a 1.76 ERA. But Northeast (27-18), playing at home, could be a real threat. Brandon High product Trent Turner is batting .431 with seven homers and 47 RBIs. Heath Wood is at .372 (and has 98 career hits), and catcher Riley Alef is a defensive stalwart. P.S. Three teams from this double-elimination event (the 0-2 team is done) will advance, along with second-ranked LSU-Eunice, to the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament next week. If Northeast is still around, it will host again. Otherwise, it’ll be JCJC.
Division titles — and more — will be determined on Saturday as the MACJC regular season concludes. East Mississippi Community College, ranked seventh in NJCAA Division II, hosts Northeast in a doubleheader showdown for the North crown. The Lions are 17-5, the Tigers 16-6. No. 1-ranked Jones County JC (17-5) will try to wrap up the South championship when it visits last-place Copiah-Lincoln (7-13). Hinds is 16-6, a game back of JCJC, heading into a twinbill against visiting East Central (9-13). Mississippi Gulf Coast, behind James Land’s monster day (8-for-9, two homers, six RBIs), split with Jones on Wednesday to stay in contention for a playoff berth in the South. Gulf Coast is 9-13 with Pearl River (11-11) coming to Perkinston on Saturday. Elsewhere, Holmes (10-12 North) hosts Coahoma (0-22) and Northwest (14-8 North) hosts Itawamba (9-13). Southwest (9-15 South) and Delta (12-12 North) have finished division play. The juco postseason is a long and winding road. The top four teams in each division begin the postseason on May 2-3 with a best-of-3 series (North 1 hosts South 4, etc.). The four series winners advance to the state tournament (May 8-10). The NJCAA Region 23 Tournament is May 15-18. The winner there goes to the D-II World Series.