FULTON – Oxford pitching had pretty much baffled Itawamba AHS batters with curve balls for much of the evening.
Until the last swing of the contest.
Colin Chatham poked a base hit to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring Shante Rogers and giving the Indians a 6-5 victory in Game 2 of this second-round Class 4A baseball playoffs series.
Itawamba’s late heroics tied the series, sending it back to Oxford for a deciding Game 3 today at 6 p.m.
“On our part, this was just a lot of heart tonight, not giving up,” said IAHS coach Brian Long, who had seen Oxford edge his Indians 1-0 in Game 1. “Even going back to last night, it seemed liked we were not getting any breaks, but then it finally happened.”
After fighting their way back from and early 5-1 deficit, the Indians (16-13) saw Rogers line a ball off a leaping Chargers infielder to get on base with one out in the eighth. Rogers was bunted over to second base, bringing up a hitless Chatham.
“I told him after his first swing, just to get a track on the ball,” Long said. “He threw the bat at the ball, and it landed in a perfect spot.”
Chatham’s tailing ball landed in short right field, and Rogers sped across the plate with the winning run.
“We’d thrown them a lot of breaking balls all night, and we weren’t going to stop in that situation,” Oxford coach Bradley Roberson said. “It didn’t look like a good swing, but he battled, and did what he needed .”
The Itawamba offensive efforts made the eight-inning pitching effort of Luke Hargett stand up. And that was after Hargett surrendered five runs through the first three innings.
Oxford (26-5) jumped to the lead early with eight hits through the first three innings.
Charley Sullivan had an RBI single in the first.
Curt Presley had a two-run single in the second.
Oxford scratched out two runs in the third for a 5-1 lead.
Itawamba stayed close with a manufactured run in the first, and an RBI double by Dillon Mitchell in the third. The Indians climbed even in the fifth inning as Mitchell and Jared McGonagill had run-scoring hits.
Sullivan started on the mound for Oxford, pitching into the fifth inning, before being relieved by Blaine Sellers.
Long’s early pick to start Game 3 is Maihkail Miller (3-1), while Roberson is leaning toward Steven Naron (6-1).
David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal