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Oxford baseball manufactures runs to beat Saltillo, take control of Region 2-5A

Once again, Oxford High’s baseball team has found itself in the driver’s seat of Region 2-5A. They put themselves there by winning in a way head coach Chris Baughman does not think he had seen in the first 18 games of the season.

With manufactured runs, Oxford defeated Saltillo 6-0 at Edwin Moak Field on Tuesday night. It kept the Chargers (17-2) atop the 2-5A standings with a 3-0 record. They will travel to Saltillo on Friday night (7 p.m.)

It was a night where offensive production was in short supply, recording only four hits, but Oxford took advantage of Saltillo starter Dylan Hitchcock’s lack of command and managed to score runs without much use of a bat.

Hitchcock pitched five innings and struck out eight Charger batters but countered that with eight free passes. Two of the walks scored runs for Oxford in the fourth inning. The Chargers also took advantage of six stolen bases on the night.

“I thought we won the game in possibly a manner we haven’t won one all year,” Baughman said. “We manufactured and sometimes that’s what you have to do. I was proud of the way we got runners in after that first and second inning after we left some runners on.”

After stranding five runners in the first two innings, Oxford scored two runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings.

For the Chargers, it was another solid outing from a starter with Parker Stinnett pitching his second complete game of the season and earning his fourth win on the year. Stinnett went seven innings, giving up three runs, five walks and striking out seven Saltillo (10-3, 1-2) batters.

In the top of the sixth inning, Stinnett looked to be running out of gas, giving up a leadoff double and a walk. Baughman went out to talk to his sophomore and settled him down as Stinnett used only six pitches to get out of the inning unscathed.

“(Stinnett) started overthrowing his curveball,” Baughman said. “His curveball hadn’t been real good tonight. We relied with him a lot this year on his slider, which is a pitch he just developed in January. It was really good. He couldn’t find his slider early and we went to his curveball and it was really good. Then he started overthrowing. … He kept making their hitters get themselves out.”

Graeber out

During the Water Valley game of the Spring Break tournament on March 15, senior Duncan Graeber was hit by a pitch and X-rays afterwards revealed he had a broken left hand. It required surgery, sidelining him for the next three to four weeks.

It has caused Baughman to adjust his lineup with Ben Bianco moving from behind the plate over to first base and sophomore Clay Ivy taking over catching duties. Baughman expects Graeber to return just before the postseason begins.

“He’ll get back in the mix. It will take him a little time,” Baughman said. “He won’t have a ton of time to work himself back in, but he’ll have his opportunities to contribute. He’s being a great leader in the dugout, trying to provide energy. … In baseball, roles change over the course of a year. Sometimes it’s an unfortunate injury that changes a kid’s role. That’s what it’s done.”