By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
RIDGELAND – Tears in his eyes, Oxford baseball coach Chris Baughman couldn’t explain why his team committed so many errors in its most important game of the season.
The only explanation he could give was that’s just the cruel way a baseball game can turn out.
The Chargers (19-12) committed five errors in an 8-3 loss to Ridgeland on Monday night in Game 3 of a MHSAA Class 5A state semifinals series.
“If you would have told me that we would have played probably our worst defensive game of the playoffs tonight, I would have said you were crazy,” Baughman said after the season-ending loss. “But it’s baseball. They did what it took to win it and we didn’t.”
The Titans, who advanced to the 5A state championship series against Long Beach, scored two runs in the bottom of the first off two errors and two hits.
Errors in the fourth and sixth innings also led to runs for the Titans (23-9).
“They made the defensive plays. I know three short-hops they made and that we didn’t,” Baughman said, comparing and contrasting the Titans’ defensive play with his team’s.
“Again, they made the plays and we just didn’t. I have no reason why we didn’t.”
As a result, Hunt Halford (7-5) suffered the loss despite striking out eight in five innings.
Titans make contact
Give credit to the Titans, though, for pounding out 12 hits off Halford and reliever James Lear, who came on to pitch the bottom of the sixth.
Harrison Olinger was 4 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI to lead the Titans, who did a fine job of hitting the Oxford left-hander hard the other way.
“We did a good job against a left-hander,” said Titans coach Brian Rea. “Hunt is an excellent pitcher. He’s beat a lot of good people.
“For whatever reason, we saw it good out of his hand and we were able to barrel some balls up.”
Meanwhile, Ridgeland starter Hunter Lohman (1-2), wasn’t exactly blazing fastballs by the Oxford hitters. The soft-throwing right-hander only allowed five hits and struck out just two batters in going the distance.
Zac Barber got two of those hits, including an RBI double to score Shae Mnichowski who singled to left with one out in the top of the seventh.
“Once they got a 6-2 lead, he came back pretty much with all fastballs,” Baughman said about Lohman’s pitching from the fifth inning on. “All fastballs.
“He was letting us put it in play and letting his defense work behind him. That’s what I have always told our kids what we had to do to win, and we just didn’t do it tonight.”
• Game summary, Page 2B