BLOG – It took nearly seven innings for the Oxford baseball team to truly capitalize at the plate with runners in scoring position — certainly, a case of better late than never.
A two-run single with two outs from Brooks Krouse in the bottom of the seventh gave the Chargers an 8-7 walk-off win over Germantown in Game 1 at Edwin Moak Field on Friday night in the third round of the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is scheduled for Saturday at Germantown.
Krouse’s hit bounced over the head of Mavericks third baseman Ryan Sticker, allowing Pittman Phillips to score from second base on a close play at the plate.
“It was big pressure, but I’ve been in that situation a lot this year,” Krouse said. “I just went up there with a smile on my face. I was just in awe. They actually had a big gap between second and shortstop, so I was trying to push it through that gap, and I got on top of it and luckily it got over the third baseman’s head. I don’t even remember who was on second, but I’m glad he scored. It was crazy.”
OHS coach Chris Baughman debated pinch running for Phillips but elected to let the senior stay on the bases.
“I decided he was a senior. If we had gotten a hit, we would have tied it anyways, so I wanted to give a senior a chance to be the winning run at the plate,” Baughman said.
Prior to Krouse’s game-winning hit, Ben Bianco plated the first runs of the inning with a two-run, pinch-hit single to make the score 7-6.
Freshman or not, Baughman expected something big out of Bianco in the situation.
“He’s had some great games over the course of the year,” Baughman said. “I’ll be honest with you, I put him in there to try and hit a three-run bomb to tie it. He’d hit several bombs this year for us, and I’m just proud he got a hit and extended the inning.”
Oxford (25-8) had its chances earlier in the game to put runs on the board but left the bases loaded in the third and fourth innings as well as runners on second and third in the sixth.
“We finally won a game we didn’t deserve to win,” Baughman said. “We didn’t deserve to win the ballgame.
“I’m proud of them for not quitting. In the seventh, we hit the hardest spot on the infield and found a way to get it over his head. He’d been playing in all night, that’s where he played the whole time. Brooks hit the right spot, we got lucky and made a good slide at the plate.”
Jason Barber earned the complete-game victory on the mound. The sophomore right-hander hurled 113 pitches and gave up eight hits while striking out six and walking one in a gutty performance that started out by giving up three runs in the first inning.
“That’s happened to him a couple times this year,” Krouse said. “You come out, first inning, put a couple runs on him, he doesn’t really get in his groove. Second inning, he comes back, and he just starts getting in his groove. That’s what he did tonight. He was able to stick it out, keep them to a minimum amount of runs and we were able to answer.”
The win sets the Chargers up with two chances to win one game, a bit different than their last series with Lewisburg when they were playing with their backs against the wall after Game 1.
“We’re in a little different situation than we were the other day, but I’d much rather be in this situation than down 0-1,” Baughman said. “It makes me feel a little bit better. We’ve got to come out. We just spent a lot of energy, we’ve got to come out and try to find a way to get that energy back, have a good first inning and carry the momentum over from tonight for tomorrow.”
First pitch for Game 2 in Madison is set for 7 p.m.
For more on the series, check out Monday’s edition of the EAGLE. (May 9, 2014)