By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – There was a logjam at the top of Division 2-5A entering Friday’s matchups.
The Oxford Chargers used late-inning heroics to continue their stay at the top of the division standings.
Solid relief pitching by Pittman Phillips and efficient use of the bat in the fifth and seventh innings propelled the Chargers to an 8-3 victory over the Saltillo Tigers.
“Of course your first goal in our division is to get in the playoffs,” Oxford head coach Chris Baughman said. “But to leave here 3-1 in the division is huge.
“It gives our guys a chance to play for a little more.”
The night began with Oxford, Saltillo, and New Hope all tied at 2-1 in division play, and the Tigers moved runners across home plate early in an effort to remain at the top.
The Tigers (5-11, 2-2) scored two in the bottom of the first on an RBI double by Hayden Elliot, and a sacrifice fly by Drew Rhudy. Saltillo added a run in the second on a sacrifice fly by Hunter Harlow to take a 3-1 lead.
But in that second inning, Baughman inserted Phillips with one out and two on base. From the third inning on, Saltillo was held scoreless as Pittman scattered six hits in his five and two-thirds of work.
The Tigers did threaten in the fifth and seventh innings, loading the bases, but failed to plate any runs in either situation.
“We’ve talked about all year making plays, and I know of about five we didn’t make,” Saltillo head coach Johnny Bolen said. “In order to beat Oxford and New Hope, you’ve got to make those plays.”
Oxford (13-5, 3-1) scored sole runs in the first and third frames. The Chargers then took the lead in the fifth with three runs on RBI doubles by Jack McClure and Chadwick Lamar.
In the seventh, Oxford added some insurance on RBI hits by Jason Barber and Aundrel Turner.