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Roth going for Chargers in Game 2

Oxford isn’t messing around.

With a chance to clinch a spot in the MHSAA Class 5A championship series for the second straight year tonight, Oxford will give the ball to its other top arm, Houston Roth, against Grenada in Game 2 of the North Half finals. First pitch at Grenada is set for 6.

Behind another complete game from Ole Miss signee Jason Barber on Wednesday, Oxford (25-8) took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series with a 2-1 win in extra innings. Chris Baughman could have elected to save his other Southeastern Conference signee for a third game Saturday back at Oxford should Grenada win tonight, but Oxford’s coach likes his team’s chances with the depth it has on the mound now that Oxford has beaten Grenada’s ace, Caleb Morgan, and made him throw 127 pitches doing it.

“We’re going to go try to win it,” Baughman said. “Their No. 2 (pitcher) is pretty good. I like the fact we got the Morgan kid to throw 120, 130 pitches, so if it does go to Saturday, I like our No. 3 if we have to go there. But there’s a lot of teams out there that would kill to have Houston Roth pitching in Game 1 for them, let alone Game 2.”

Strong down the stretch

Roth, who’s also headed to Ole Miss next year, has been Oxford’s most consistent pitcher this season, sporting an 8-0 record with a 0.41 earned run average. He’s allowed just 26 hits in 51 innings with 99 strikeouts. His last time out, Roth fanned nine in a three-hitter in Oxford’s 10-0 second-round win over Center Hill on May 4.

The 6-foot-3 right-hander hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last four starts dating back to April 8. But Baughman would like to see his offense to take more pressure off Roth than it did Barber after Oxford went 3-for-29 and stranded nine runners Wednesday.

“We’re very confident when those two are on the mound, but we’ve got to go out, put some at-bats together and score some runs for him (today),” Baughman said.

Oxford has won five of its six playoffs games, including four straight.