BLOG — Oxford’s second game with the Hernando Tigers in the quarterfinals of the MHSAA Class 5A baseball playoffs tonight at Edwin Moak Field needs to turn out completely different than the opener of the series did Friday night in Hernando.
Hernando defeated the Chargers 7-1 to gain a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three series that sends the victor on to the 5A North Half championship next week. The Tigers broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the third inning with four runs on three hits and an error. Oxford committed four errors in the contest, while Hernando starter Drew Rutledge held the Chargers to just four hits in his complete-game effort.
“We worked all week, talked about it all week, to see the baseball deep and hit it the other way. Make the right side of the field field it and some guys that we try to count on to do that didn’t do that for whatever reason,” Oxford coach Chris Baughman said about why he thought his team struggled offensively. “We had some real big swings from guys tonight that looked like they were trying to do too much. We didn’t do anything we asked them to do and it cost us.”
“(Rutledge) was good, he was spotting his fastball, he was throwing his changeup for strikes but he got us out on our front foot. We told the guys to stay back, stay back and we didn’t,” Baughman said. “Give credit to him, he threw a great game, but we didn’t rise to the level we needed to rise to in the final four of the North Half. We didn’t rise to that level, we didn’t play at that level.”
Oxford starter Steven Whitfield (6-3) went the distance as well for Oxford. He produced three innings where he sat the Tigers down in order but he also missed a few pitches that led to extra base hits for the Tigers, including two home runs for Trey Freeman.
“Steven is not the type of kid that can miss a spot and be OK. They had a big inning where he missed a spot on the home run. He missed a couple of spots. He was more effective later in the game and was spotting it up,” Baughman said. “I give them credit. I told our guys this bunch can play. They scared me ever since I came up here last Saturday to scout them. We just didn’t match the level that they played at. We’re going to try to come out (Saturday) and do that.”
Tonight’s second game begins at 6. A third game, if necessary, would be played at Hernando on Monday night at 6. (May 5, 2012)