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Oxford holds off Madison Central, forces deciding Game 3

MADISON — If Oxford wants to compete in their fourth consecutive state championship series they were going to have to find a way get past Madison Central and keep their season alive.

After getting shut out in Thursday’s Game 1 in Oxford the Chargers’ bats came alive in their 11-8 win over the Jaguars at Madison Central High School on Friday.

The win forces a deciding Game 3 back in Oxford on Saturday at 7 p.m. with the winner earning a berth to next week’s Class 6A North Half Championship series.

It took three pitchers but Oxford (22-9) held off a late surge by Madison Central, who scored three runs in the final inning but had their rally cut short by the Chargers’ Bo Gatlin.

“It’s not over until that 21st out with them,” Oxford coach Chris Baughman said. “They hit the ball hard. Hit it a long way. Our kids just battled.”

Scoring two runs in three of the first four innings pushed Oxford out to a 6-0 lead midway through the game.

Madison Central (25-6) did not fold easily and cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the fifth inning. A RBI triple by Regi Grace followed by a 2-run home run by Lawson Stockett put the Jaguars back in the game. Stockett had a 4-for-5 night at the plate with 4 RBIs.

The following inning provided a key moment for the Chargers. Left fielder CJ Terrell used a bases-clearing double to score three of the five runs that Oxford scored in the top of the sixth to break the game open at 11-3.

“CJ’s double is the play of the game in my mind,” Baughman said. “Really huge of our kids answering. It was big.”

Tyler Smith had yet another clutch Game 2 performance in the past six days. After helping Oxford sweep Southaven last weekend Smith gave the Chargers another 5 2/3 innings. Smith allowed three runs on seven hits and he walked four while striking out three Jaguar batters.

Kobin Ross faced one batter in the sixth before Gatlin got the final four outs of the game. Madison Central made things interesting, scoring five runs in the final two innings. It also caused Gatlin’s pitch count to rise making him doubtful for a long outing in Game 3.

“We’ve got four or five guys that we’ve counted on all year that are going to be ready to go (Saturday),” Baughman said.