Oxford gets tested in one-run jamboree victories

Published 6:01 am Sunday, February 21, 2016

The first test run for Oxford’s baseball team was anything but a breeze, which was perfectly fine with coach Chris Baughman.

The Chargers faced a pair of one-run deficits against Amory in the first of two preseason jamborees Saturday but pulled out a 4-3 win on Grae Kessinger’s two-run, walk-off single at Bobby Holcomb Field. Preston Perkins walked and Duncan Graeber singled before Kessinger brought both home with a liner into the left-field corner.

Oxford nipped Center Hill 3-2 later in the day.

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“My big thing today was them coming out and getting a little pressure put on them,” Baughman said. “I’m glad we did because we’re going to have to deal with some pressure.”

Expectations are boiling over for Oxford this spring with more than half its starters back from a team that finished 35-1 and won the Class 5A state championship, including a trio of Ole Miss signees in Kessinger and pitchers Jason Barber and Houston Roth. The Chargers, who will start the regular season Friday against Southaven in the New Albany Classic, are ranked as high as No. 1 nationally by MaxPreps.

“We’re going to have to deal with the pressure that we’ve put on ourselves, and I’m glad somebody else put some pressure on us in the first game,” Baughman said.

Baughman used the game to get a look at the options behind Barber and Roth on the mound as Carson Stinnett and Kessinger each pitched one inning while newcomer Thomas Dillard worked the last two frames.

Dillard used his bat to give Oxford a quick lead in the first with a solo home run to the opposite field and drew a bases-loaded walk in the third, but Amory got RBI knocks from Jackson Williams, Gunnar Hall and Austin Grubbs to take a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the fourth before Kessinger delivered.

“I felt like Carson and Thomas both threw it well,” Baughman said. “I thought Grae was OK. We’re fighting a little consistency there, but those guys have got to throw well for us early in the year to give us a chance.”

‘Dores top WVHS
Dillon Woods scored on a throwing error in the final inning to lift Lafayette to a 2-1 win over Water Valley on Saturday in the Water Valley Jamboree.

Woods pinch ran for Khalil Martin, who grounded into a fielder’s choice after a leadoff walk to Luke Gossett. Woods stole second and took off for third on a pitch in the dirt before trotting home on catcher Ty Varner’s errant throw trying to nab Woods at third.

Gossett had an RBI single for Lafayette in the first inning while Reed Robinson finished with a pair of hits. Water Valley, which got singles from Austin Smith, Cooper Clement and Carson Sharp, scored its lone run when Clement came home on a wild pitch in the first.

Lafayette’s Mack Bishop pitched two innings, allowing two hits and striking out three. Clement, Smith, Blain Clark and Donovon Gaston each threw an inning for Water Valley.

Lafayette will start its season Friday at home against Lewisburg while Water Valley will open Saturday against Booneville in the New Albany Classic.