BLOG — In Oxford’s biggest game of the season, Houston Roth came up big for the Chargers.
Starting for the second time in a 24-hour span, Roth pitched into the seventh inning and made some early run support stand up as Oxford kept its season alive with a 4-3 win over Lewisburg Saturday night at the LHS baseball field in the decisive game of the teams’ Class 5A playoff series.
The Chargers (24-8) get Germantown in the next round starting next weekend.
Roth got the ball in the Chargers’ 15-1 win on Friday to force Saturday’s third game. With the game well in hand, Roth was pulled after three innings and 38 pitches to preserve him for Game 3.
Roth, who improved to 11-0, went six innings before exiting with a 4-1 lead after giving up back-to-back hits to start Lewisburg’s half of the seventh. The sophomore right-hander scattered nine hits and allowed three runs while striking out seven and walking two. He threw 98 pitches.
“I wanted to take him out in the fourth inning because of the pitch count,” Oxford coach Chris Baughman said. “He wouldn’t let me. … He lost his slider in one inning, and then he came back with it and looked great. That’s the reason I stayed with him as long as I did.”
Said Roth, “I told (Baughman), ‘Leave me in, leave me in.’ I was feeling it. I was feeling real well. My arm was hanging in there, doing real well. I’m not going anywhere. I’m feeling great. I just told him, ‘Leave me in.’”
Still, the Chargers had to hold on at the end.
Fellow sophomore Jason Barber came on for Roth and struck out the first batter he faced before Rudy Martin poked a two-run single up the middle to trim the Chargers’ lead to one. Martin stole second with two outs to move into scoring position, but Barber got Hunter Wilson to fly out to right to end the game.
Oxford’s bats stayed hot early against Lewisburg starter Jonas White, who took the loss after giving up all four runs in just three innings of work. Hunter Roth belted an RBI triple into the left-field corner in the first and came in to score when third baseman Peyton Plumlee couldn’t cleanly field Barber’s slow chopper.
Jack McClure doubled to lead off the third, and the Chargers took advantage of another Patriot miscue to push the lead to 3-0. Barber lined a single into left field, but the ball got away from Geoff Busby, allowing pinch runner Joey Walden to race home from second. Drew Phillips brought home another run in the inning with a sacrifice fly.
Lewisburg got on the board in the home half of the frame on an RBI double from Martin, but the combination of Houston Roth’s arm and the Chargers’ defense didn’t allow the Patriots to do much else at the plate.
Roth got out of a bases-loaded jam later in the inning when Pittman Phillips started a 6-4-3 double play. Phillips dove to snag a ball up the middle in the fifth, but his throw pulled first baseman Drew Phillips’ foot off the bag. Martin, who had walked earlier in the frame, took off from third as Oxford players and coaches argued the ball, but Drew Phillips threw him out at the plate to end the inning.
“It’s all about making big plays in big series,” Baughman said. “We didn’t do that Thursday night. They didn’t do that last night. We made enough plays. If you make plays, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win, and we did.”
Michael Bianco, Brooks Krouse, Houston Roth, Hunter Roth, Drew Phillips, McClure and Barber each had a hit. Martin went 2-for-3 and drove in all three runs for Lewisburg while designated hitter Lowell Haney finished 2-for-3 with a double.
In the video below, Houston Roth talks about the win and his performance on the mound.
See Monday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage from Saturday’s game. (May 3, 2014)