Braxton Lee, the ex-Ole Miss standout from Picayune, has done quite a few noteworthy things in his eight-year pro career. Won a Southern League batting title. Played in the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game. Played in the big leagues. On Wednesday night, the 28-year-old Lee did something entirely different: He pitched. Lee, an outfielder by trade, threw a scoreless eighth inning for Triple-A Louisville in a 12-3 loss at Memphis. A lefty hitter who throws righty, Lee didn’t allow a hit and walked just one in his mound debut. He went 1-for-3 as a hitter, lifting his average to .242 in 41 games with Cincinnati’s top minor league club. Lee played in eight games for the Miami Marlins in 2018 but has spent the past couple years bouncing around the minors. He was playing in the independent Atlantic League when the Reds signed him in June. He started the season with Chattanooga in the Double-A South. The Pearl River Community College product has a .262 career average in the minors over 676 games. P.S. Mississippi College alum Blaine Crim and Mississippi State product Justin Foscue went a combined 5-for-5 with four runs and six RBIs for Double-A Frisco on Wednesday. Both homered. Alas, the Texas Rangers affiliate lost 10-9 at Amarillo. Crim is batting .290 with eight bombs, and Foscue — a highly rated prospect — is at .247 with two homers, one in each of the last two games. Crim has 28 homers on the year at two levels, and Foscue, the 14th overall pick in 2020, has 17 at three levels.
Capping a rapid rise through the minor leagues this season, Colby White made his Triple-A debut on Sunday, pitching 1 2/3 innings in relief for the Durham Bulls. The former Mississippi State star began his second year in pro ball at the Low-A level for Tampa Bay, advanced to High-A, then Double-A and got the promotion to Durham last week. “This is my first full season, and I’m in Triple-A,” the 2019 draftee told The Columbian-Progress of Columbia. “It’s pretty cool.” White played at West Marion High and Pearl River Community College before signing with MSU, where he posted a 3.12 ERA in 27 games in 2019 on a staff that included Ethan Small, J.T. Ginn and Cole Gordon. Tampa Bay drafted the hard-throwing right-hander in the sixth round, and he made 15 appearances at the rookie level that summer. After the 2020 COVID-19 hiatus, White has been nothing short of sensational this season: 1.49 ERA, 10 saves, 93 strikeouts and 12 walks in 54 1/3 innings over the four levels. He reportedly touched 100 mph in an outing with Montgomery at Trustmark Park in Pearl last week. P.S. Ole Miss product Lance Lynn returned from an injured list stint (knee) on Sunday to throw five scoreless innings for the Chicago White Sox against Boston. He yielded two hits, no walks and fanned nine. Ocean Springs native Garrett Crochet followed Lynn and got five outs in a game the first-place White Sox would win 2-1 on Leury Garcia’s walk-off homer. … Former State standout Brandon Woodruff (9-8, 2.48) was held out of a slated start on Sunday for first-place Milwaukee because of a stomach ailment. He’ll go Wednesday. … Ex-Bulldogs ace Dakota Hudson, rehabbing in St. Louis’ system (see previous posts), went five innings Sunday and got a win for Double-A Springfield.
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.
Defense doesn’t often get the attention it deserves, but the annual announcement of the ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Awards shines a little light. Ole Miss catcher Hayden Dunhurst and Pearl River Community College third baseman Dalton Cummins earned that recognition on Wednesday. Dunhurst, a sophomore from Carriere and a second-team All-SEC pick, threw out 16 would-be basestealers and picked off five runners this season. He joins Stuart Turner, a former major leaguer, as Ole Miss catchers to win a Gold Glove. Dunhurst was a semifinalist for the Buster Posey Award given to the top college catcher; Turner won that award in 2013 when it was called the Johnny Bench Award. Cummins, a sophomore from Seminary and a Delta State signee, registered a .944 fielding average (while also playing some second base and shortstop) for the state champion PRCC Wildcats. The Gold Gloves were not awarded in 2020. The last Mississippi Division I player to win one was Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum in 2018. Former Southern Miss pitcher Hunter Stanley won one as a second baseman at Meridian CC that same year. Other campus notes: Dunhurst has been chosen for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, according to a UM release. Shortstop Jacob Gonzalez and pitcher Derek Diamond also made that squad. USA Baseball has not yet announced the full roster. … Southern Miss outfielder Reed Trimble, a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America pick, is one of four Golden Eagles playing for Gainesville (Ga.) in the Sunbelt Baseball League. USM pitcher Ben Ethridge is with the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod League. Former USM star Walker Powell, the C-USA pitcher of the year in 2021, is in the MLB Draft League, a new showcase for draft-eligible players. … Jackson State’s Chenar Brown, also a CB Freshman All-America, is toiling for Danville in the Appalachian League. … Former Madison Central High star – and Stanford signee — Braden Montgomery is listed as an attendee in the MLB Draft Combine, currently under way in Cary, N.C. Montgomery, a pitcher/outfielder, is the only Mississippi high school player rated in MLB Pipeline’s top 250 draft prospects. The draft is in July.
South Alabama’s hitters did a number on Florida today in a jaw-dropping 19-1 victory that eliminated the Gators — once the nation’s No. 1 team — from the Gainesville Regional. Also due some major props is Miles Smith, a former Pearl River Community College standout from Laurel who pitched the first six innings and limited the Gators to one run on five hits with five strikeouts. Smith departed after the Jaguars scored 10 runs in the sixth inning to take a 14-1 lead. Smith (7-1 this season) won 15 games over his two seasons at PRCC, including a 9-3 mark on the 2019 club that went to the juco World Series. … While Reed Trimble and Christopher Sargent were fueling an eye-popping offensive assault by Southern Miss on Southeast Missouri State today in the Oxford Regional, Walker Powell was getting it done on the mound. Powell pitched six dominant innings, holding SEMO to four hits while fanning four in the Golden Eagles’ 21-0 win in an elimination game. Powell, C-USA’s pitcher of the year, improved to 10-2 on the year.
If there is a karma factor in the NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament, it might belong to Hinds Community College. This could be a sentimental journey for Eagles coach Sam Temple, who is leaving for the Clinton High job after 16 very successful years in Raymond. He has taken two teams to the juco World Series in his previous 15 years. Hinds is the only unranked team in the six-team regional at Poplarville, but between the white lines that means nothing. Stuff happens in the postseason when the games mean more. Pablo Lanzarote, a Purdue signee, leads the HCC attack with a .325 average, 13 homers and 15 RBIs. Matt Corder is hitting .445 with 17 steals. Brooks Auger is 6-1 with a 3.38 ERA, Bryce Brock 5-4, 2.23. Pearl River, which plays Hinds in the first round, is the top seed and enjoys home field advantage (17-1 record) at Herring Park. Led by Tate Parker (.396, 17 homers, 63 RBIs) and Landon Gartman (8-0, 1.83), the Wildcats are among the nation’s leaders in both home runs and ERA, a pretty potent combination. Lurking in the field as the No. 3 seed is LSU-Eunice, ranked second in the nation and boasting of six national titles. The Bengals’ lineup features two .400-hitting regulars: Jack Merrifield (.441) and Scott Jones (.401). Two relief pitchers have ERAs of 1.13 and 0.65. Some other star may emerge, like, perhaps, Meridian’s Banks Tolley (.416, 13 homers, 14 steals), Itawamba’s Lane Domino (.788 slug) or East Central’s Walker Johnson (2.08 ERA, 15 strikeouts per nine innings). Whichever team makes it through to Enid, Okla., for the D-II World Series will have earned the ticket.
Five of the top 18 teams in the new NJCAA Division II poll will clash next week in a loaded regional tournament with a berth in the juco World Series on the line. Brackets are set for the first day of the double-elimination Region 23 Tournament in Poplarville. On May 17, Pearl River Community College, the host and No. 1 seed, opens with Hinds; No. 2 Meridian meets Itawamba; and 3-seed LSU-Eunice takes on East Central. PRCC (34-7), ranked third in the nation, won the MACCC regular season title with a 23-5 record, 3 games better than Meridian, which had to win a play-in series to make the regional. Hinds, ICC and ECCC also advanced via that route. LSU-E is 42-5 and ranked No. 2 in the national poll. Meridian, ICC and ECCC are also ranked. Hinds, the outlier, went 18-10 in the league, has won eight of its last 10 and owns victories against Meridian and ECCC. “All of the top seeds in the MACCC advanced this past weekend,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said in a school release. “Add LSU-Eunice to the tournament field, and again this will be one of the most competitive regionals in the NJCAA. There is no doubt fans will see good players, well-coached teams and enjoy the awesome atmosphere that Dub Herring Park provides.”
Brandon Woodruff, the former Mississippi State standout from Wheeler, threw six shutout innings to beat the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Sunday. The Milwaukee ace is 2-0 with a 1.55 ERA and has yet to allow a home run in 29 innings this season.
Pearl River Community College wrapped up the junior college state championship with a sweep of Northeast on Sunday. Gulfport’s Tate Parker hit two homers, a grand slam and then a seventh-inning game-clincher, Nos. 14 and 15 on the year, in a 13-5 win in Game 1 at Poplarville. The third-ranked Wildcats are 33-7 and 23-5 MACCC.
Decatur’s Kemp Alderman, a freshman, blasted a walk-off bomb for Ole Miss on Saturday as the Rebels salvaged the third game of their SEC series against LSU.
Collinsville’s Ben Ethridge threw a three-hit, 11-strikeout shutout at Western Kentucky on Saturday, helping Southern Miss take three of four in the C-USA series.
Lucedale’s Logan Tanner hit a two-run homer off Jack Leiter on Saturday as Mississippi State handed the Vanderbilt ace — and potential No. 1 MLB draft pick — his first loss of the season. Rowdey Jordan’s leadoff blast got the Bulldogs rolling.
Brandon High took down previously undefeated Madison Central 7-6 on Friday. The Jaguars, No. 3 in the latest MaxPreps national poll, are now 24-1. The Bulldogs are 20-7.
Three former Mississippi Braves pitchers notched wins as MLB starters on Friday: Huascar Ynoa for Atlanta, Mike Minor for Kansas City and Alex Wood for San Francisco. A fourth, John Gant, got a W for St. Louis on Saturday.
There are four Mississippi junior colleges in the latest NJCAA Division II Top 20 poll, led by No. 3 Pearl River (31-7), which leads the MACCC standings at 21-5. Itawamba, ranked 11th, is 19-7 in the league, No. 9 Meridian 18-8 and No. 19 East Central 17-9. A bunch of individuals also show up in the national stat charts, most notably perhaps Jones College left-hander Dalton Rogers, who leads the nation with 91 strikeouts over 57 innings. The Northwest Rankin High product is 3-4 with a 3.16 ERA for the 22-18 Bobcats. The top-ranked hitter from the state is Mississippi Delta’s Gage Little, batting .481, ninth in the D-II stats. Pearl River’s Graham Crawford stands tied for second nationally with 14 home runs; teammates Tate Parker and Kasey Donaldson have 13 each for the power-laden Wildcats, who top the country with 80 homers. Parker is fifth in D-II with 53 RBIs. Jones’ Murray Hutchinson leads the state with 25 stolen bases, ranking ninth in the nation. Pearl River’s Landon Gartman has eight wins (and no losses), tied for second in the national stats, and a 1.87 ERA, which ranks third. Meridian’s Alec Sparks has seven wins. Northeast’s Alex Potter has five saves, tied for third in the country. Jones’ Garrett Langrell and Gulf Coast’s Alex McWhorter have four saves each. P.S. Hinds has named Dan Rives, a former Eagles assistant and Delta head coach, as the 2022 successor to Sam Temple, who has taken the Clinton High job for next season. Temple has 439 wins over 16 seasons in Raymond, with three state championships and two juco World Series trips on his ledger.
It’s not exactly King Kong vs. Godzilla, but Saturday’s doubleheader at Cresap Field in Fulton throws together the two current behemoths of Mississippi juco baseball. Pearl River Community College, ranked No. 2 in NJCAA Division II, is 14-4 in the MACCC standings, tied for first with Itawamba, ranked 11th. Not surprisingly, both of these clubs are loaded with hitters and hurlers boasting great numbers. The host Indians are led by Riley Davis, batting .484 with 24 RBIs and 28 runs, and Lane Domino, who has nine homers, 28 RBIs, 35 runs and a .398 average. On the mound, Brady Davis is 4-0, Will Armistead 3-0 and Collin Babin 4-2. PRCC features Tate Parker, hitting .398 with 10 homers and 41 RBIs, and Graham Crawford, .349 with nine bombs and 33 RBIs. Wildcats ace Landon Gartman is among the nation’s leaders at 6-0 with a 1.71 ERA. Sam Hill is 4-0, 3.18. … East Central is third in the league at 14-6 but coming off a crushing sweep at the hands of Hinds, which outscored the Warriors 21-3 behind five homers on Tuesday. ECCC visits Northwest (13-11) on Saturday. Meridian and Gulf Coast are both 12-6.