01 Apr

just stuff

South Carolina is the SEC leader in home runs, but Mississippi State beat the highly ranked Gamecocks at their own game on Friday night in Starkville. The Bulldogs won their first SEC game of the season, 13-3, behind an 18-hit barrage that included four homers, two by Slate Alford and one each by Hunter Hines and Dakota Jordan. MSU is 16-12, 1-7. South Carolina, which homered once Friday, is 25-3, 7-1. … Meanwhile, Ole Miss fell at Texas A&M and is still seeking its first conference W, and Southern Miss won at Troy to move to 4-3 in the Sun Belt. … Former USM ace Nick Sandlin, working 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief on Friday, notched a win in his first appearance of 2023 with Cleveland, which beat Seattle. .. After getting the win in relief on Thursday, ex-MSU standout Kendall Graveman got knocked out and took the L in the Chicago White Sox’s loss to Houston. Ole Miss alum Lance Lynn pitched into the sixth and stood to get the win until the ChiSox’s bullpen melted down. … Billy Hamilton, the ex-Taylorsville High star, is in Triple-A for the White Sox and went 0-for-3 in his season debut. Other Mississippi-connected ex-big leaguers sent to Triple-A include Mike Mayers, Demarcus Evans and Jonathan Holder. … Former Mississippi Braves Vaughn Grissom and Braden Shewmake played shortstop and second base, respectively, for Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday. Shewmake hit a walk-off, three-run homer in the ninth. Grissom had a hit, scored three times and made a fielding error. … Jones College (26-6, 11-1) continues to rule in the MACCC after bashing Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College 17-4 and 12-0 last Wednesday behind Beau Bryans’ eight RBIs. But hot on the Bobcats’ heels is East Central, which has won seven in a row and stands 9-1 in the conference. ECCC won two one-run games at Copiah-Lincoln on Wednesday. Leighton Jenkins drove in three runs in a 4-3 win, Manny Huffman went 4-for-4 with four RBIs in an 8-7 victory and David Burton saved both games.

29 Mar

dramatic endings

Scoring four runs in a wild ninth inning, Belhaven University rallied to beat Millsaps 8-7 Tuesday night at Twenty Field and retained the Maloney Trophy. There was drama of a different sort at Trustmark Park in Pearl, where the Southern Miss-Ole Miss game was cancelled in the fourth inning due to unplayable field conditions. Recently installed sod on the infield at the home of the Double-A Mississippi Braves was not holding up. Both coaches reportedly agreed with the decision to halt the rivalry game but were obviously disappointed not to get it in, as were thousands of fans who packed the park. Meanwhile, over at Twenty Field on the Millsaps campus, before a listed crowd of 190, Belhaven players and fans celebrated their 11th straight win, which moved the Blazers’ record to 14-9. Millsaps is 14-12. BU has won the series between the NCAA Division III rivals four straight seasons. P.S. The next scheduled event at Trustmark Park would appear to be the April 5 exhibition between the M-Braves and Jackson State, a game originally slated for Jackson’s Smith-Wills Stadium. The M-Braves open their Southern League season with a three-game home set against Biloxi April 7-9. The annual Governor’s Cup game between Ole Miss and Mississippi State at the TeePee is April 25. … JSU plays local rival Tougaloo tonight at Braddy Field.

28 Mar

battle lines drawn

Before the season began, Southern Miss-Ole Miss gleamed as a Top 25 matchup. Both schools, coming off highly successful seasons, appeared in various national preseason polls. Collegiate Baseball Magazine had USM at No. 18 and Ole Miss, the reigning national champ, at 24, plus Mississippi State at 22. Sadly, the Big 3 have fallen out of the CB poll and most of the others, though UM still shows up in a couple. Even if some of the luster is gone from tonight’s USM-UM game (6 p.m.) at Trustmark Park in Pearl, the crowd will be large and the intensity high. USM comes in with a 14-9 record, 3-3 in the Sun Belt Conference. After a hot start to 2023, Ole Miss has slipped to 15-9 and is 0-6 in the SEC. The Rebels beat the Golden Eagles 11-5 in Oxford on March 7. The two schools clashed in a drama-filled Super Regional in Hattiesburg last year. … A few miles from the TeePee tonight, NCAA Division III rivals Belhaven and Millsaps will meet at the Majors’ Twenty Field in a game that will decide the Maloney Trophy Series winner for 2023. Millsaps is 14-11 with five straight wins, Belhaven 13-9 with a 10-game win streak. P.S. Poll news: William Carey University (23-6 with seven straight wins) is No. 20 in the current NAIA coaches poll. Pearl River Community College is No. 3 in the NJCAA Division II poll, with Meridian at 6 and Jones at 9. The Bobcats are in first place in the MACCC standings.

19 Mar

one step back

Barring an injury or trade before opening day, Matt Wallner will start the 2023 season in the minors. Minnesota optioned ex-Southern Miss star Wallner to Triple-A St. Paul on Saturday; Wallner made his MLB debut last summer and batted .228 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 18 games. USM’s career home run leader, he homered in his first big league game. The Twins have a glut of outfielders and DH-types on their 40-man roster, several of them lefty hitters like Wallner. Wallner is hitting just .207 this spring with one homer in 29 at-bats. A highly rated prospect, he put up big numbers (.277, 27 bombs, 95 RBIs) in Double-A and Triple-A last year before his call-up. He’ll get another shot sometime this season. Wallner is the 21st USM alum to play in the majors and was the third to debut in 2022, joining Kirk McCarty (Cleveland) and Chuckie Robinson (Cincinnati). McCarty has gone to Korea and Robinson is no longer on the Reds’ 40-man, leaving Nick Sandlin (Cleveland) as the only Golden Eagles alum currently in the majors. Note: There are a bunch of pitching prospects from USM in the minors.

11 Mar

bringing down the house

Clearly, there was something magical in the Mississippi air today. There was a walk-off homer in Oxford, another in Starkville and a late, tie-breaking rally in Hattiesburg. Kemp Alderman, former Newton County Academy standout, gave Ole Miss a 7-6 win against Purdue with a 10th-inning bomb, his second of the game and eighth of the season for the 13-2 Rebels. Kellum Clark, the former Brandon High star, hit the winner for Mississippi State in the ninth, his fifth jack of the season beating Lipscomb 4-3. Southern Miss scored a run in the seventh and four in the eighth — two coming on a homer by Danny Lynch — to beat Valparaiso 8-3. P.S. For anyone who might’ve missed it: One of the worst called strikes imaginable ended Mississippi Valley State’s 7-3 loss at New Orleans on Friday night. Home plate umpire Reggie Drummer punched out Valley’s Davon Mims on a 1-2 offering that was low and away, nowhere near the plate and almost a wild pitch. (The video is all over the Internet.) On the previous pitch, also a questionable called strike, Mims had taken exception, jumped into the air, twirled around and then tapped the plate with his bat. Apparently, Drummer didn’t like that. … Former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College star Brandon Parker, a minor leaguer in Atlanta’s system, got a hit today in his first big league spring training at-bat.

08 Mar

special delivery

Stepping up in a rivalry game is something special. Here’s a tip of the cap to three players who did so in three intra-state clashes on Tuesday night. In Oxford, senior Peyton Chatagnier went 2-for-3 with a homer and three runs to drive Ole Miss to an 11-5 win over Southern Miss in a matchup of nationally ranked rivals. Chatagnier is batting .400 with four homers, 11 RBIs and 14 runs for the 11-2 Rebels, who are ranked as high as No. 4. USM slipped to 8-4. At Lorman, freshman Victor Figueroa went 3-for-4 with five RBIs as Mississippi Valley State whipped Alcorn State 8-4. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Figueroa is hitting .359 with 12 RBIs for the Delta Devils (6-6). Alcorn fell to 1-11. At Pearl’s Trustmark Park, Stewart Bonnecaze was the leader of a pack of four Millsaps pitchers who combined on a three-hitter to propel the Majors to a 4-2 victory against Belhaven that evened the Maloney Trophy Series at 1-1. Bonnecaze, a freshman, worked four hitless innings, allowing just an unearned run and fanning five, to improve to 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA for the 8-7 Majors. Belhaven is 3-9. … Jones College, Itawamba Community College and Mississippi Delta CC will play a round-robin today at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson, an event originally scheduled to be played in Cleveland. Jones-Delta is at noon, Jones-ICC at 2:30 and ICC-Delta at 5. Tickets are $10.

06 Mar

making a list

A pair of former high MLB draft picks from Mississippi colleges who’ve battled arm injuries have cracked the top 20 on the Oakland A’s list of Top 30 prospects, revealed today by MLB Pipeline. Ole Miss product Gunnar Hogland, the 19th overall pick in 2021, is Oakland’s No. 15, and Mississippi State alum J.T. Ginn, a second-round pick (by the New York Mets) in 2020, checks in at No. 17. Hogland has pitched just eight innings in pro ball so far. Ginn has made 30 appearances over two years, but just 12 last season before an Arizona Fall League stint. He is in big league camp as a non-roster player. It’ll be interesting to see how those two fare in 2023. Former Biloxi High star Colt Keith is ranked No. 4 in Detroit’s system; Southern Miss alum Matt Wallner, who debuted in MLB last summer, is Minnesota’s No. 7; ex-State standout Justin Foscue is Texas’ No. 7; former Bulldogs closer Landon Sims is Arizona’s No. 9; Will Bednar, the CWS star for State in 2021, is San Francisco’s No. 16; ex-Ole Miss standout Ryan Rolison is Colorado’s No. 28; and fellow Rebels alum Doug Nikhazy is Cleveland’s No. 30. (See previous post for the top prospects from the National League East and Central and American League East. All told, 17 state products made the various Top 30s.) … Six Mississippians made USA Today’s top 200 fantasy players for MLB ’23, topped by Austin Riley at No. 27 and Brandon Woodruff at 33. Eleven former Mississippi Braves are on that list, including Riley, the DeSoto Central High alum who also played for the Double-A M-Braves en route to Atlanta. … A handful of Magnolia State products have signed with independent clubs for 2023, including Jacob Robson, who is also slated to play for Team Canada in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Ex-MSU standout Robson signed with the American Association’s Kansas City Monarchs, for whom he played in 2022. Dalton Moats (Delta State) inked with KC, Delvin Zinn (Itawamba Community College) with Milwaukee and Conor Fisk (USM) with Lake Country. Milton Smith Jr. (Meridian CC) signed with Rocky Mountain of the Pioneer League.

06 Mar

good stuff

Jackson State has won nine straight games and put up some football scores in the process. In their last five, the Tigers (11-2) have scored 17, 21, 13, 19 and 17 runs. They blew away error-prone Alcorn State in a non-SWAC series at Lorman over the weekend, getting big performances from Ty Hill, Jordon Smiley and Marcus Atterberry. Hill, a grad student from Saltillo, is batting .447 with three homers, 18 RBIs and 18 runs. … Hotter even than JSU is Blue Mountain Christian. The recently renamed NAIA school has won 10 straight and sits at 17-3 and 3-0 SSAC after a sweep of Stillman. … SSAC member William Carey University (14-4) has won six straight and tallied 43 runs in a weekend sweep of Dillard. Patrick Lee, a senior from Pascagoula, had an eight-RBI game in a 16-5 win in the finale of a Saturday doubleheader. … Nationally ranked Ole Miss (10-2), coming off a controversial twinbill split against Louisiana Tech, crushed three Big Ten teams in an event in Minnesota. Ethan Groff, a Tulane transfer, went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, two runs and a steal in Sunday’s 14-5 win against Nebraska. Groff is batting .413 with three homers, 22 RBIs and 17 runs for the Rebels, who’ll host Southern Miss on Tuesday. … USM (8-3) allowed just six runs total in a sweep of Dallas Baptist over the weekend. The Golden Eagles got sterling starts from ace Tanner Hall, Matthew Adams and Niko Mazza, the former MRA standout, plus two saves from Justin Storm. Tuesday’s trip to Oxford will be USM’s first true road game. … Mississippi State (7-5) didn’t get much pitching in a tournament in Texas but was bailed out in its third game by fireballing reliever Nate Dohm. The Ball State transfer tossed five scoreless innings in relief in a win against Cal, punching out six batters. In 12 1/3 innings in five games, Dohm has 12 K’s, two wins and a spotless ERA. … Mississippi College (6-12) went 1-2 against Tampa, ranked No. 2 in NCAA Division II, in a series at Clinton. All three games were one-run affairs. … On Tuesday at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Division III rivals Millsaps (7-7) and Belhaven (3-8) will play the second game of the Maloney Trophy Series. Belhaven won the first meeting 4-3, the Blazers’ eighth straight win in the series.

02 Mar


Having played just 11 games in pro ball, Emaarion Boyd is already a hit with the folks who do the prospect ratings. The former South Panola High standout, an 11th-round pick by Philadelphia in the 2022 draft, is pegged as the Phillies’ No. 12 prospect in MLB Pipeline’s new Top 30 rankings for 2023. Boyd projects as a center fielder and “speedy table-setter.” A right-handed hitter and thrower, Boyd batted .361 with eight stolen bases and seven runs in his debut season, playing at the two lowest levels of the Philly system. At age 19, he lists at 6 feet 1, 177 pounds. He’s one of three 2022 draftees out of the state to appear in the prospect rankings to date. (Only the National League East and Central and American League East had been released as of Wednesday.) Ex-Mississippi State catcher Logan Tanner, a second-round pick, jumps into Cincinnati’s rankings at No. 19, and former Southern Miss left-hander Dalton Rogers is Boston’s 25th-best prospect. Jordan Westburg (MSU) is Baltimore’s No. 5; Blaze Jordan (DeSoto Central) Boston’s No. 11; Will Warren (Jackson Prep) the New York Yankees’ No. 9; Colby White (MSU) Tampa Bay’s No. 27; and Ethan Small (MSU) Milwaukee’s No. 14. White is on the Rays’ 40-man roster, and Small made his MLB debut last season. P.S. Mississippi College product Blaine Crim hit his first spring training home run for Texas against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. Crim, who reached Triple-A in 2022 and has 61 career homers in three seasons, is in Texas’ camp as a non-roster invitee.

01 Mar

into the wild

A wild night at Trustmark Park in Pearl produced a 10-9 Mississippi State win against Southern Miss and a bunch of eye-opening numbers. Take a deep breath:
365 — Total number of pitches thrown.
19 — Combined walks by the nine pitchers, most of whom had trouble finding the strike zone. There were also six hit batsmen, a wild pitch and a passed ball.
18 — Combined runners left on base.
12 — Hits between the two teams, including a three-run triple by the Bulldogs’ Colton Ledbetter in a five-run second inning and a monster of a home run by State’s Amani Larry in the fourth.
12 — Strikeouts by State pitchers, including four by winner Nate Dohm, who lights up the radar gun at 97-98. He worked the last 2 1/3 and yielded just a lone unearned run.
10 — Dollars, the event parking fee.
5 — Times USM’s Dustin Dickerson reached base; he drew four walks and had one hit, a two-run double in the fourth inning.
5 — Combined number of doubles, including one by USM’s Creek Robertson that capped a four-run fifth and put the Golden Eagles ahead 7-6.
4 — Errors between the two teams, which produced two unearned runs.
4 — Runs scored by the Bulldogs in the bottom of the eighth; the go-ahead tally came across on a deep sac fly by Hunter Hines.
3 — Stolen bases, all by the Eagles.
3:28 — Time of game.
6,542 — Announced attendance, a sellout and a pretty impressive number for a Tuesday night in February at a neutral site.