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BLOG: Oxford eases into North Half finals

 RIDGELAND — Oxford coasted past Ridgeland 14-1 in six innings in its MHSAA Class 5A quarterfinal baseball series Friday at Titan Park, finishing a sweep of the Titans to advance to the North Half finals for the third straight season.

The Chargers (24-8) will face Grenada in the best-of-three series starting Thursday in Oxford looking for a repeat trip to Pearl to defend their state championship.

Oxford hardly looked like a team playing its fourth game in as many days after inclement weather pushed back its previous series, which ended 24 hours before the Chargers took a 1-0 series lead against Ridgeland (15-14) on Thursday with a 5-1 win in Oxford. The Chargers pushed across a run in the first and second innings with the help of two Ridgeland errors and had a 9-0 lead after four at-bats.

Oxford’s Reed Markle commanded things from there to get the win, striking out nine with the only two hits he allowed coming in the bottom of the fourth to produce the Titans’ lone run on Ryan Wilkes’ RBI single. Markle, making just his fourth start of the season, retired five of the last six batters he faced to finish the third straight complete game by a Charger pitcher.

Ridgeland’s Jeremy Powell was pegged with the loss after allowing eight runs on four hits while walking four in just 3 1/3 innings.

Oxford, which used five straight hits to score four of its five runs in the sixth, finished with 11 hits against three Ridgeland pitchers and scored three unearned runs thanks to five Titan errors. Drew Bianco and Jason Barber each went 2-for-3 with a double and combined for three RBIs. Thomas Dillard and Tag Gatlin knocked in two runs apiece as eight different Chargers drove in at least one.

 See Sunday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage Friday’s game.