By Robert Wilson
Photos by Hays Collins
Dozens of Major League Baseball scouts have been contacting Jackson Academy coach Parker Harris daily about his talented senior right fielder Dakota Jordan.
Hartfield Academy found out why this week in its three-game MAIS Class 6A conference series with JA.
Jordan hit his third home run of the series Friday with a missile over the right field wall to lead off the fifth inning for the winning run in JA’s 6-2 victory over Hartfield in the second game of a doubleheader at JA’s Raider Park in Northeast Jackson.
With the win, JA improved to 17-8 overall and 4-5 in league play. Hartfield, which won the first game of the doubleheader 8-2, dropped to 18-9 overall and 4-5 in league play.
The 6-foot, 215-pound Jordan, a Mississippi State football and baseball signee and Canton Academy transfer, is having a tremendous senior season and many pro scouts come to each game he plays. Nine were there Friday and some had left by the time he hit his home run in the second game of the doubleheader, but they know all about his speed, power and bat speed. Hartfield got a first-hand view this week. Jordan hit two home runs in JA’s 11-5 win over Hartfield in the first game of the series Tuesday at Hartfield in Flowood. His first home run Tuesday cleared the right field fence despite going against a strong wind. Jordan’s second home run high over the Hartfield scoreboard in left field and was estimated at 450 feet. He had seven runs batted in Tuesday.
Jordan’s third of the series – and ninth of the season – came after he was intentionally walked two times in the first game of the doubleheader – once when first base was occupied. Jordan sent Hartfield junior submarine right-handed relief pitcher Jacob Canoy’s second pitch quickly over the right field fence – the ball didn’t appear to get 20 feet off the ground – to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning to give JA a 3-2 lead. JA scored three more runs in the sixth for a 6-2 cushion.
Jordan had eight plate appearances Friday and reached base each time – one home run, two singles, three intentional walks and two fielder’s choices. He has amazing numbers on the season going into Friday: a .543 batting average (38 of 70), a .636 on base percentage and a 1.128 slugging percentage. He is on pace to break school records in each category (David Mooney’s .512 batting average in 2005, Trent Tyre’s .589 on-base percentage in 2018 and Matt Denny’s .938 slugging percentage in 2011). He now has 35 runs, 35 RBIs, 11 doubles, 3 triples and 9 home runs and 10 stolen bases. Denny holds the school record with 12 home runs and JA has at least 11 games to play (two regular season three-game series with Madison-Ridgeland Academy and Jackson Prep and a best of three game playoff series). In addition, Jordan made two dazzling catches in right field and caught another ball several yards in foul territory with ease when many right fielders might not have even reached it.
“I get calls all the time from these pro scouts,” Harris said. “They want to know everything Dakota did in our practices and everything he did in our games. Many of them are here for the games. We’ve had as many as 23 at a game. I get it. They are possibly investing millions of dollars into someone like Dakota if they draft him, so they want to know everything because they play a lot more games than we do. They do their homework. Some of them say he might go in the first five rounds. Dakota is a special talent. It’s amazing what he can do. He’s a joy to coach and I’m fortunate to be able to be his coach and watch him every day. Dakota does some incredible things, like that home run he hit Tuesday. I’ve had many people say that’s the longest home run they have ever seen a high school player hit.”
Jordan was ready for the pitch when he hit the home run despite the intentional walks earlier in the doubleheader.
“I went into the at bat knowing that we needed baserunners, so my approach was to take the first pitch and attack the next pitch,” Jordan said. “I was thinking middle away every time I face a sidearm or submarine pitcher. I always try and hit the ball to the opposite side of the field and when I saw the fastball coming in and I hit it, I thought it was probably going to be a home run or double. The intentional walks don’t bother me anymore. I’m kind of used to it, but every time I get intentionally walked, I tell the next man on deck let’s go do damage because if you walk me, you still have to face (senior designated hitter) JT Thigpen, who is a great power hitter (Thigpen came into Friday hitting .417 with six doubles and six home runs).
“The win tonight was so big for our team because we were fighting for a good seeding in the playoffs.”
JA senior left-hander Grayson Lee held Hartfield in check for the win to improve to 3-0 this season. He allowed only four hits and two runs with five strikeouts in six innings – his longest start of his career. And JA’s defense made several outstanding plays. Other than Jordan’s plays in right field, the infield turned two key double plays. Senior second baseman Cade Gadman caught a grounder, stepped on second and threw to senior first baseman Davis Lee to end the fourth inning and senior shortstop Garrett Smith fielded a grounder, flipped to Gadman, who threw to Lee for a game-ending double play in the seventh.
Senior left fielder and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College signee, Joseph Ciaccio had a two-run single to give JA a 2-1 lead in the third and Lee and Smith had RBI singles to key the three-run sixth.
Hartfield sophomore left-hander Cole Stumph threw a six-hitter for his first complete game of the season in the first game of the doubleheader. Stumph, who threw 97 pitches, had seven strikeouts, and improved to 4-1 this season.
Hartfield scored five runs in the first two innings for a 5-2 lead. Senior shortstop Will Purvis, senior third baseman and Hinds CC signee Bran Boyd had two hits. Boyd’s two-run double was the key hit in the four-run Hartfield second inning.
Hartfield took advantage of nine JA walks, three batters hit by pitch and three errors.
“Cole has gotten better and better,” first-year Hartfield coach Justin Smith said. “Cole throws strikes, and he competes. He gives our defense a chance to make the plays. We are very excited for him to have a complete game.
“We went back to the basics in the first game (of the doubleheader). We got advantage counts and we were able to hit. I told them just go out there and have fun.”