Eliminated on Monday from the Gulf South Conference Tournament, Delta State awaits a bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament. The regional fields will be announced on Sunday. The Statesmen (32-15), regular season champs in the GSC under coach of the year Rodney Batts, lost to Alabama-Huntsville 7-3 on Monday in Oxford, Ala. DSU went 2-2 in the tournament. The Statesmen got a South Regional bid in 2021, Batts’ first full season at the helm, but went 2-and-out at Pensacola, Fla. … Also awaiting its postseason destination is William Carey, champion of the Southern States Athletic Conference. Bobby Halford’s Crusaders will take a 37-15 record into an NAIA regional. … Millsaps’ season ended Monday with a second straight loss to top-seeded Birmingham-Southern in the Southern Athletic Association championship series. Jim Page’s Majors won 10 of their last 14, including a pod title, to finish 24-21. … Belhaven’s season ended Sunday with two losses to UT-Dallas in a pod championship showdown in the American Southwest Conference Tournament. Kyle Palmer’s Blazers went 28-16, most wins for the program in seven years. … Rust College, under first-year coach John Bates, plays Edward Waters on Wednesday in the NAIA bracket of the Black College World Series at Montgomery, Ala. The double-elimination pod winner will meet the NCAA Division II bracket champ in a title game. … In the NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament on Monday in Poplarville, MACCC champ Pearl River Community College plays Northwest, East Mississippi takes on Jones and Hinds gets LSU-Eunice. The winner of the double-elimination event gets a trip to the juco World Series.
Nathan Herron put up what might just be the hitting performance of the year among Mississippi college players, belting two grand slams Friday to power Belhaven University to an 11-4 win against Hardin-Simmons in the American Southwest Conference Tournament. Herron, a sophomore third baseman out of South Panola High, hit five homers with 32 RBIs during the regular season. The Blazers (27-14) play UT-Dallas today in the second round of their double-elimination bracket at Richardson, Texas. In other postseason play: Delta State got a grand slam and eight RBIs all told from Blayke Dendy in a 13-0 run-rule win over Shorter in the Gulf South Conference Tournament at Oxford, Ala. Dendy’s eighth homer of the year backed the stellar pitching of Harrison Haley, now 10-1. DSU, the top seed, takes a 31-13 record into today’s game against Lee University. … Blue Mountain’s season ended with an 11-9 loss to Loyola-New Orleans in the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament at Columbus, Ga. The Toppers lost despite a seven-run first inning. Loyola moves on to play William Carey today; the Crusaders are 2-0 in the tournament. … A walk-off two-run homer by Justin Williams gave Hinds Community College an 11-10 win over Mississippi Gulf Coast and puts the Eagles in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament at Poplarville next week. The Eagles, under first-year coach Dan Rives, swept the MACCC best-of-3 series. Williams, a freshman out of Madison-Ridgeland Academy, went 4-for-5 in the clincher. Sean Smith had a grand slam and seven RBIs for Gulf Coast. … Jones College, under first-year coach Wes Thigpen, also advanced to the six-team region tourney by run-ruling host Northeast 11-1 to sweep that series. … Northwest is at Meridian and East Mississippi hosts East Central in winner-take-all games today.
Tournament baseball, with its air of finality, rarely fails to produce great drama. We’ve already seen it: Millsaps College, pushed into a winner-take-all game after a crushing 25-10 loss to Rhodes last Saturday, responded hours later with a 7-2 win to advance to the Southern Athletic Association championship series. Ryan Erwin and Wil Wood, both on very short rest, stepped up on a combo nine-hitter and Avery Brock hit a big home run for the 6-seeded Majors (24-19). They’ll meet top-seeded Birmingham-Southern (36-8) in a best-of-3 in Birmingham this coming weekend (Sunday-Monday) for an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Expect more drama this week. On tap today: William Carey, defending champion of the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament, plays Mobile and Blue Mountain meets Loyola-New Orleans in the first round of the event at Columbus, Ga. The winner of the double-elimination tourney gets an automatic bid to the NAIA nationals. Third-seeded Carey (33-14) placed three players on the all-conference first team: outfielders R.J. Stinson and Chris Williams and pitcher A.J. Stinson, 9-0 this season. Alex Frilliman and Dylan Hale made the team for BMC (28-23), seeded seventh. On Thursday: The MACCC best-of-3 series begin. East Central Community College is at East Mississippi, Mississippi Gulf Coast is at Hinds, Jones College is at Northeast and Northwest is at Meridian. Regular season champion Pearl River, ranked No. 2 in the nation, clinched a berth in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament, which starts May 16 in Poplarville. The four playoff winners will advance to the six-team bracket, which will also include LSU-Eunice. On Friday: Delta State begins play in the Gulf South Conference Tournament as the No. 1 seed, meeting 8-seed Shorter in the first round at Oxford, Ala. The Statesmen (30-13) won their 22nd GSC regular season title last weekend and will be seeking a 16th tournament crown. The winner of the eight-team double-elimination tourney gets an automatic bid the NCAA D-II Tournament. Belhaven (26-14) plays Hardin-Simmons at Richardson, Texas, in the first round of double-elimination pod play in the D-III American Southwest Conference Tournament.
Catching up on the small colleges while bemoaning the state of affairs in the big leagues: Delta State went 2-1 on its swing through Florida, completing the trip on Sunday with a 7-5 win against Palm Beach Atlantic. The Statesmen (3-2 overall) got key home runs from Hayden Cooper and Blayke Dendy in Sunday’s win; they scored 32 runs in the three games. … William Carey went 4-0 in the Carey Classic over the weekend and is 6-1 on the season. R.J. Stinson is batting .519 for the Crusaders, and Pascagoula native Patrick Lee is at .520. Both have driven in nine runs and scored nine. … Millsaps went 2-1 in its big weekend event, notching a 5-4 win over Huntingdon on Sunday behind the pitching of Ryan Erwin (2-0) and the bat of Bradley Pelle, who is hitting .545 for the Majors (4-2). MUW opened its season in the Millsaps tournament and went 0-3. … Mississippi College dropped the rubber game of a series at Young Harris (Ga.) 6-5 on Sunday and slipped to 2-5 on the year. Caleb Reese is batting .370 for MC. … Blue Mountain split four games at Texas A&M-Texarkana over the weekend and is now 4-2. Anthony Lipsey leads the Toppers with a .412 average. … Belhaven went 0-3 in its season-opening series at East Texas Baptist, scoring just five runs all told. … Rust is off to a 2-3-1 start and Tougaloo stands 2-7, including two losses last week to Blue Mountain. … Pearl River Community College, the highest ranked state juco at No. 4 in the NJCAA Division II poll, is 4-0 and averaging over 10 runs a game.
2 – National championships by four-year schools in Mississippi: William Carey in NAIA in 1969 and Delta State in NCAA Division II in 2004. (Jones College won a junior college title in 2013.)
7 – Wins this season by Houston Harding, Mississippi State’s projected starter in tonight’s Game 2 of the College World Series finals. The left-hander also got a W in 2020 and won 19 in two years at Itawamba Community College. He beat Campbell in the regional and got no-decisions vs. Notre Dame in the super regional and Texas in the CWS.
3 – Wins this season by Christian Little, Vanderbilt’s projected starter in Game 2 of the CWS finals. The 17-year-old, 6-foot-4 freshman right-hander – a January enrollee — went 5 1/3 innings (one run) in a Vandy victory vs. Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament but was not the pitcher of record. He also worked against Tennessee, Louisville and Stanford.
873 – Feet covered by Hunter Renfroe’s two home runs in Boston’s win over Kansas City on Monday. Mississippi State alum Renfroe now has 11 homers on the year and is batting .340 with six bombs in his last 30 games.
1 – Earned run allowed by rookie Nick Sandlin for Cleveland in 10 June appearances. The Southern Miss product worked a clean inning in a win against Detroit on Monday and now has a 2.08 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings over 19 games.
0.47 – Brandon Woodruff’s ERA in three games vs. the Chicago Cubs this season. The ex-MSU star, 6-3 with a 1.89 on the season, will start for host Milwaukee tonight against National League Central rival Chicago.
1 – Hit, a single, in two at-bats for Blaze Jordan in his pro debut on Monday. Jordan, a third-round pick out of DeSoto Central High by Boston in 2020, is playing for the Red Sox’s Florida Complex League team.
Jackson State’s mettle was tested on Thursday. The Tigers passed. JSU blew a 13-1 lead against Grambling State in the second round of the SWAC Tournament at Madison, Ala., but won 14-13 on a walk-off hit by Jatavious Melton in the bottom of the ninth inning. Ah, there’s nothing like tournament baseball. Melton’s third hit and third RBI of the game scored Omar Gomez and kept the Tigers in the winners’ bracket of a tourney they must win to get an NCAA regional bid. JSU, which went 24-0 in the SWAC this season, is 33-8 overall heading into play today. Alcorn State stayed alive with a 3-2 win over Alabama State in an elimination game. … Elsewhere: Delta State fell to West Florida 11-4 in the deciding game of the Gulf South Conference championship series at Pensacola. All-tournament selection Jake Barlow went 4-for-4 but DSU could not overcome UWF’s seven-run first inning. The Statesmen (28-18) await a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament. … SSAC champion William Carey bowed out of NAIA regional play with a 7-2 loss to Central Methodist in the title round of the O’Fallon (Mo.) Opening Round. Carey finished 36-12. … MACCC champion Pearl River Community College’s season ended with a 5-2 loss to second-ranked LSU-Eunice in the NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament at Poplarville. The third-ranked Wildcats finish 36-9. East Central, behind the pitching of Jeremy Martin, KO’d Hinds and will meet LSU-E for the berth in the juco D-II World Series. No. 15 ECCC (29-18) must beat LSU-E twice to advance. … MUW finished third in the USCAA World Series in Pennsylvania. Damain Benefield and Trey Petite were named first-team All-Americans for the Owls, who closed at 21-13 in their fourth year of competition.
Delta State plays West Florida in a winner-take-all game tonight for the Gulf South Conference Tournament championship at Pensacola, Fla. The Statesmen (28-17) lost Game 2 5-2 on Wednesday.
William Carey needs two wins today against Central Methodist to win the O’Fallon Opening Round (regional) and advance to the NAIA World Series. The Crusaders (36-11) lost to host Central Methodist on Wednesday before beating McPherson in an elimination game.
Jackson State (32-8), which won its opener in the SWAC Tournament, takes on Grambling State today in Madison, Ala., in a winners’ bracket game. Alcorn State lost its first-round game and plays an elimination game today vs. Alabama State.
Pearl River Community College and Meridian CC meet today for the right to play unbeaten LSU-Eunice in the NJCAA Division II Region 23 tourney at Poplarville. East Central and Hinds play in another elimination game.
The Mississippi Braves host a Double-A South doubleheader tonight against Chattanooga at Trustmark Park in Pearl. The M-Braves are 5-8 on the season after winning the six-game series opener on Wednesday night.
On March 14, Delta State was 6-10 after being swept in a three-game series by Lee University. But as they like to say up in Cleveland, tradition never slumps, and tradition – or something – kicked in. Today, the Statesmen are 27-16 and about to play for the Gulf South Conference Tournament championship, which would be the program’s 16th. They face a 3-game series against West Florida (32-8) in Pensacola with an NCAA Division II regional bid possibly hanging in the balance. “It’s going to be tough,” said second-year coach Rodney Batts in a YouTube video posted by the school. “But we’re still in this thing. You get to this point, anything can happen. You’ve got to beat the best.” In last week’s tourney bracket, DSU beat top-seeded Lee and, facing elimination, reached the championship series with a walk-off win against Alabama-Huntsville. Darek Sargent tripled and Chad Ragland singled him home for a 4-3 win. “There’s something special about this team,” Ragland said. Hayden White is hitting .361 with 10 homers, and Jake Barlow has 17 bombs and a .314 average. Hunter Riggins (8-4) and Christian Day (7-2) have been a good 1-2 in the rotation. West Florida’s lineup includes two Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College alums: Dylan Menhennett (.403) and Miller Hancock (.367). Both played for Batts during his tenure in Perkinston. P.S. William Carey won its opener Monday in NAIA Tournament play, beating Benedictine Mesa 2-1 as Sloan Dieter — who else? — threw a five-hitter and belted a home run. Carey plays again tonight in the Opening Round (regional) at O’Fallon, Mo.
Two to watch on the small college scene today: Delta State, which has won nine straight games, welcomes Southern Arkansas to Ferriss Field in Cleveland, while William Carey, which shook off a five-game funk to sweep Blue Mountain last weekend, plays host to Southeastern Baptist at Wheeler Field in Hattiesburg. … After a wild series against Gulf South foe Valdosta State at home last weekend, DSU sits at 15-10 overall and 13-10 (fourth) in the league. The Statesmen won Game 1 vs. VSU 5-3 on a walk-off homer by Michael Allen, his first of the year. Hunter Riggins (4-3) and T.J. Childree (fourth save) pitched brilliantly in a 4-3 win in Game 2. In the finale, in what had to be one of the craziest games in school history, DSU blew an 8-2 lead, pushed across tying runs in the ninth and 10th innings to stay alive and won on a bases-loaded HBP that capped a three-run 11th. Blake Wolferding is raking at a .377 clip with five homers and 19 RBIs in just 53 at-bats. Former Madison Central star Kirkland Trahan is at .350 with five homers, and Jake Barlow has six homers and 26 RBIs. Riggins, a staff mainstay, has a 2.72 ERA, and Childree has a 0.66 over 12 games. No. 2 starter Christian Day is 2-2, 4.74. … Meanwhile, Carey’s showdown with SSAC rival Blue Mountain proved to be quite a mismatch: The Crusaders won 16-1, 9-7 and 15-1 at the BMC SportsPlex. WCU moved to 19-7, 4-5. Heroes were abundant: Two-way star Sloan Dieter threw seven innings (11 strikeouts) for the win and drove in five runs in Game 1; Chris Williams went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Jay Johnston 4-for-5 with two runs in Game 2; and R.J. Stinson drove in five runs while Jorge Ramos and John Snyder combined on a three-hitter in the series finale. P.S. Belhaven’s Brett Sanchez (see previous post) absorbed his first loss of the season last Friday, giving up five earned runs in 6 1/3 innings at Ozarks. Sanchez is 7-1 with a 2.20 ERA.
The SEC openers for Mississippi State (vs. LSU) and Ole Miss (vs. Auburn) are the main course options this weekend, but there is a delectable side dish on the college menu. William Carey, off to a 15-2 start and ranked 14th in the NAIA coaches’ poll, opens conference play with a stern test. The Crusaders visit No. 6 Faulkner (10-1) in the Southern States Athletic Conference opener for both schools. Bobby Halford, in his 36th year as Carey coach, should get a good read on the strength of his 2021 team, which has played just one road game to date. Jay Johnston, at .417, leads five Crusaders regulars batting .300 or better. Chris Williams is at .333 with three home runs and 19 RBIs. Sloan Dieter has been a two-way factor with a team-high four homers and a 3-1, 1.99 ERA on his pitching ledger. Faulkner, idle since Feb. 27, is always a formidable foe. Under 12th-year coach Patrick McCarthy, a onetime Mississippi College grad assistant, the Eagles have been to the NAIA World Series eight of the last nine years, winning it all in 2013.