Patrick Ochs

Random thoughts from out of left field

Gulfport's Beckett White is safe at first as Biloxi's Jordon O'Keefe reaches for an errant throw during the first inning of their game at Biloxi on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.
Gulfport's Beckett White is safe at first as Biloxi's Jordon O'Keefe reaches for an errant throw during the first inning of their game at Biloxi on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com file

Former Gulfport Admiral and Mississippi State Bulldog Jonathan Holder got his 2017 season off to a good start. The young New York Yankees reliever pitched a scoreless frame during Monday’s blowout 7-3 loss to Tampa Bay. Holder did allow two hits, but he also whiffed his first two batters of ’17. One of his strikeout victims was three-time all-star Evan Longoria.

After making his MLB debut late last season, Holder had a strong spring training. He finished with a 2.92 ERA with nine strikeouts and two walks in 12 1/3 innings. He also held opponents to a .174 batting average and eventually clinched one of the Yankees’ final bullpen spots.

Speaking of Gulfport

Gulfport baseball coach Jamie McMahon brought up a couple good points Monday regarding his team’s timely offense. His Admirals (19-1 heading into Tuesday’s game against Harrison Central) have a knack for hitting doubles. Through 20 games, Gulfport accounted for 36, more than any other 6A Coast team (George County is a close second with 35).

“We don’t hit a lot of singles. Now we can get a double and put pressure on a guy to pitch,” he said. “More times than not a pitcher is throwing pressure pitches against us. If you can do that consistently, it’ll fall in your favor sooner or later.”

Despite only being a sophomore, Beckett White has been a spark plug for the Admirals. The young catcher/infielder is second on the team with a .347 batting average. He also boasts 12 RBIs and 17 hits.

“He’s a quiet competitor,” McMahon said. “We knew he was a good player. He’s versatile, too, where we’re really just trying to find a way to get him in there.

“He gets some big hits in big situations. Nothing fazes him. He doesn’t say a lot, just plays the game hard.”

Coming up big

Ocean Springs’ Britt McKay was on a tear last week. The Greyhound catcher was 8-for-11 on the week including four of his nine doubles as OSHS went 2-1 with a split against George County and a lopsided win over Pascagoula. His nine doubles are tied for 10th in Mississippi (Resurrection’s Ty Tingle leads Mississippi with 12, while Vancleave’s Bailee Hendon has 11 and VHS Bulldog Justin Stokes also has nine). McKay leads OSHS with a .393 batting average, 22 hits, 12 RBIs, nine doubles, two triples and 1.125 OPS. The Greyhounds have been fortunate to go from Tate Pepper, who’s currently at Jones County Junior College, to McKay behind the dish.

“Britt is a physical specimen behind the plate. He blocks, receives and throws it great,” OSHS coach Brian Rea said in February. “I sleep well at night, knowing Britt is behind the plate.”

Running wild

Former D’Iberville standout Dylan Hardy is having a strong season for South Alabama. The converted outfielder is hitting .359 with eight RBIs, four extra-base hits and a .431 on-base percentage. Long lauded for his speed, Hardy has been near perfect on the base paths once again. As a freshman, Hardy was a perfect base stealer, successfully stealing 13 bases in as many attempts. This year he’s off and running once again with seven steals in eight attempts.

Viewers galore

According to ESPN, Mississippi State’s women were quite the draw on TV. The “World Wide Leader” reported that the Mississippi State-South Carolina championship game Sunday averaged a total live audience (TV plus online streaming) of 3,886,000 viewers. So, what’s that mean? Well, it was a three-year high for the event and up 29 percent from a year ago. It was also the most-streamed women’s basketball final ever, with “ a streaming average audience of 59,500 viewers and a total of 211,000 viewers watching 8,205,000 minutes,” according to the release.

But wait, there’s more.

MSU’s win over UConn had a live audience of 2,783,000 viewers, making it the most watched women’s semifinal game since 2013.

I’ll miss Tony Romo

There. I said it.

As a Cowboys fan, Tony’s departure hurts. Bad. Not so much that he’s retiring — even Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman had to hang ‘em up at some point — but how he’s retiring. He was the face of the franchise but was never able to get America’s Team back to the promised land. It always mystifies me to hear so much hate spewed toward the undrafted quarterback. Baring a surprise return, he’ll finish his career having completed more than 65 percent of his passes for franchise records 34,183 yards and 248 touchdowns. His 78 wins in Dallas trail only Aikman (94) and Staubach (85) in franchise history. Those are pretty good numbers. Here’s another: His career passer rating of 97.1 is fourth-best in NFL history trailing just Aaron Rodgers (104.1), Russell Wilson (99.6) and some guy named Tom Brady (97.2). Not bad company. And then there’s his crazy fourth-quarter numbers. Yet to many — myself excluded — he’ll always be remembered for what he didn’t do. It’s a shame, really.

I, for one, look forward to seeing Tony step into the TV booth. The football world doesn’t have enough Cowboys on television, after all.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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