BLOG: Oxford senior pitcher Hunt Halford saved his best pitching performance of the season for the most critical game of the year for the Chargers on Friday night at Edwin Moak Field.Looking to get off to a good start in the third round of the Class 5A playoffs, the Chargers rode the outstanding pitching of Halford to a 3-1 win in the best-of-three series opener against the Rockets.
Halford only gave up two hits and went the distance to earn his win, which was deemed his most successful outing of the season by both catcher Henry Webb and coach Chris Baughman.
“What a performance. It was No. 1 on his list. I have to go back and think about the other two guys, Zac (Barber) and James (Lear), but for him, including the Tupelo game, that’s No. 1,” Baughman said. ” It may be our best as a staff. He made them look silly for 18 or 20 outs.”
Halford was only seriously threatened in one inning by the Rockets (18-10 overall), who were consistently caught off guard by what he was throwing. Most of the time, batters saw changeups and curveballs and Halford said he mixed in fastballs at strategic points in the count to keep the Rockets from locking in at the plate.
“Depending on the batter, the way I pitch, they never know what is going to come. Coach Baughman can call all four of my pitches and I feel like I can throw them for a strike. I probably threw 40 percent fastballs and everything else was just offspeed,” Halford said. “We knew they were going to crowd the plate and the only thing to do there is to get them out on their front foot. We stayed away with the fastball and just worked my offspeed in.”
Halford finished with four strikeouts against four walks and one hit batter. He retired 10 batters in a row in the middle innings before giving up his lone run in the sixth on an infield single. With the bases loaded in the sixth, Halford was able to escape and preserve the Chargers’ 3-1 lead by striking out Austin Smith to end the frame.
Oxford (17-10) scored all of its runs in the first inning against Neshoba Central starter Caleb McKee, who retired the final 16 batters he faced in the game.
Webb had an RBI single in the first inning, while Guy Cameron Billups scored a run with a double to right-center field. The third run scored on Neshoba’s lone error of the contest.
OHS will try to end the series Saturday at NCHS. Barber will start on the mound for the Chargers. The game will begin at 2 p.m. and can be heard on 95.5 FM. (May 6, 2011)