By Special to the Daily Journal
TUPELO – Oxford Chargers coach Chris Baughman was pretty firm – Luke Gibbs was not even close to being on his radar as a possible pitcher he would use Saturday.
Yet Baughman inserted Gibbs in the third inning, and the senior responded with 19 outs to help the Chargers edge the Tupelo Golden Wave 8-6 in nine innings. It was the first time Gibbs has pitched since he was a freshman.
“I was going to compete,” said Gibbs, the grandson of the former Ole Miss baseball coach Jake Gibbs. “It was great, and I hope to do it again.”
Gibbs was the fourth Oxford pitcher of the contest, and scattered three hits in his 61/3 innings of work.
“I never thought I was ever going to put him on the mound,” said Baughman, whose Chargers were at the end of six games in eight days. “But I knew what kind of competitor he was, and there was never a doubt in my mind that he would compete.”
And compete Gibbs did, keeping the Golden Wave offense silent for the most part.
Oxford (8-5) broke a 5-5 tie in the top of the sixth on two hits and a sacrifice fly by William Elliot. Tupelo (4-3) responded off Gibbs in the bottom of the frame as junior pinch-hitter Rob McAuley stroked an RBI single to knot the score again.
As the game moved into extra innings, Tupelo had the bases loaded with one out in the eighth, but Gibbs induced a pop up and a strikeout.
Singles by Elliot and James Lear helped Oxford load the bases in the top of the ninth, with Tupelo pitching hitting two batters to force across the eventual winning runs. The Wave almost matched those runs in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases, but Gibbs induced a ground out to finally end the contest.
“We left a lot of runners on base, and our hitting wasn’t consistent,” Tupelo coach Gary Enis said. “How much they out-hit us concerns me.
“We’ve got to be able to match hitters production-wise.”
Oxford posted five runs on the scoreboard in the second inning with the help of three doubles, including a two-run hit by Gibbs. Tupelo matched that in the third inning off a pair of freshmen relief pitchers for the Chargers to tie the contest at 5-5.
Both teams open division play Tuesday, with Oxford hosting New Hope in Division 2-5A, and Tupelo at South Panola in 2-6A.