While much of the state’s attention will be focused on Hattiesburg’s Super Regional this weekend, some will be keeping track of the events in Corvallis, Ore., and Palo Alto, Calif. Auburn, coached by Amory’s Butch Thompson, is in the Super Regional hosted by Oregon State. (The winner of that best-of-3 series is paired against the winner of Ole Miss-Southern Miss in the first round of the College World Series.) On the Tigers’ roster is former Germantown High and Pearl River Community College star Bryson Ware, batting .228 in 47 games. Thompson is in his seventh season as coach of the Tigers, the No. 14 national seed. He played at Amory High and Itawamba Community College — he is in the Indians’ Hall of Fame — and served as an assistant coach at Mississippi State from 2009-15. In Palo Alto, you’ll find Braden Montgomery, the ex-Madison Central star and 2021 Gatorade player of the year who is one of the key players for Stanford, the No. 2 national seed. The Cardinal is playing host to UConn. Montgomery, the Cardinal right fielder, is hitting .301 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs. The Pac-12 freshman of the year has also pitched in 15 games, posting a 5.79 ERA. The Palo Alto Super Regional is in the same CWS bracket as Hattiesburg and Corvallis.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, Michael Harris II is gone to the big leagues, but the Mississippi Braves’ cupboard is hardly bare. There are prospect pitchers aplenty on this suddenly surging club, which plays a Memorial Day special tonight (6:05) at Trustmark Park in Pearl, and there are more than a few hitters of note. Riley Delgado is batting .327, and Hendrik Clementina is at .301. Drew Lugbauer (“Slug-bauer”) has 11 home runs, and C.J. Alexander has seven, all this month. Luke Waddell, Atlanta’s No. 26 prospect, is batting .268 with 27 RBIs. Five of Atlanta’s top 21 prospects populate the pitching staff, including tonight’s starter, Freddy Tarnok (No. 8). The M-Braves come in hot, having won five of six at Pensacola to climb to 23-22 on the season. The defending Double-A South champs now play old rival Montgomery in a six-game homestand with an off day Tuesday. P.S. Kudos to: Southern Miss, which earned a regional host role and will welcome Army, Kennesaw (Ga.) State and LSU to Hattiesburg this week. … Ole Miss, which, somewhat surprisingly, earned an NCAA Tournament bid and will head to the Coral Gables Regional. … Madison Central High product Braden Montgomery, who hit a monstrous homer in Stanford’s Pac-12 Tournament title game victory on Sunday. The Cardinal is also hosting a regional this week. … Pearl River Community College, top seed in the NJCAA Division II World Series, which won its opener in Enid, Okla., 10-2 over Florida State College-Jacksonville and plays Lansing CC tonight. … Northwest Rankin High, which beat DeSoto Central in a decisive Game 3 in the MHSAA Class 6A championship series on Sunday and joined East Central, Sumrall, Amory, East Union and Resurrection Catholic as state champs.
It’s championship week for the MHSAA schools and the NCAA Division I programs, and here are the hot spots:
Trustmark Park, Pearl: On Tuesday, Biggersville meets Resurrection Catholic in the Class 1A series, Pontotoc plays Sumrall in 4A and Neshoba Central meets East Central in 5A. On Wednesday, it’s Stringer-East Union in 2A, Amory-Seminary in 3A and DeSoto Central-Northwest Rankin in 6A. All are best-of-3 series.
Hoover Met, Hoover, Ala.: On Tuesday, Ole Miss plays Vanderbilt in a play-in game in the SEC Tournament. The winner gets No. 1 Tennessee in the first round of the double-elimination phase of the 12-team event.
Taylor Park, Hattiesburg: On Wednesday, Southern Miss, regular season champion in C-USA, gets UAB in the first round of the double-elimination C-USA Tournament.
Regions Field, Birmingham: On Wednesday, Jackson State, the 4-seed out of the SWAC East, opens SWAC Tournament play against old rival Southern University, the top seed from the West.
P.S. Delta State’s season ended Saturday with a 6-3 loss to St. Leo in the Division II South Regional. … Pearl River Community College, the No. 1-ranked team in NJCAA Division II, will play next weekend in the juco D-II World Series in Enid, Okla. The opponent has not been determined.
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.
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.
In case you missed it, Laurel native Shemar Page, now pitching for Grambling State, threw a seven-inning perfect game Friday against visiting Alcorn State. It is reported to be just the 34th perfecto in NCAA Division I history going back to 1959. Page struck out 13 of the 21 batters he faced. The Tigers run-ruled the Braves 16-0. It’s been that kind of year for Alcorn, 2-24 after that loss. Right-hander Page has followed a long and winding road to Grambling. He was a two-way player at Raleigh High, an ace pitcher at Pearl River Community College — which won state and region titles while he was there — and primarily a hitter in two seasons at Louisiana Tech. As a grad transfer at Grambling, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Page has posted a 5-4, 2.67 ledger in 10 starts on the mound and is batting .359 in 78 at-bats.
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.