Oxford baseball’s season ends with Tupelo rally in the seventh to advance in 6A playoffs

Published 11:12 pm Friday, May 7, 2021

TUPELO — Oxford baseball saw their season come to an end as Tupelo’s Will Hodges stepped across home plate in the bottom of the seventh inning at Golden Wave Field on Friday.

Tupelo defeated Oxford 3-2 to sweep their second round series in the MHSAA 6A playoffs and rallied with two runs in the final frame to do so.

Leading by a run, Oxford (24-6) had a disastrous seventh inning that saw the Golden Wave cap their comeback with the aid of only one hit. An error followed by a walk then a sacrifice-bunt that turned into an infield single after two Chargers were at first base but neither were on the bag to get the easy out loaded the bases with zero outs for the Golden Wave.

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The tying run came in off a called catcher’s interference from Oxford’s Avery Robertson. Chargers’ pitcher Hays Roth then walked in the winning run, ending their season and extending Tupelo’s.

“The whole series was about execution, especially tonight in that seventh inning,” said Oxford head coach Chris Baughman. “Anything that could go wrong, went wrong in that seventh. We botch the bunt defense. That’s a play we put in probably six years ago and we’ve maybe run it two or three times, just for that situation. For some reason we just botched it. Just one of those things where the pressure of the situation got to us a little bit and we didn’t execute late, but man I’m so proud of them.”

Similar to Thursday’s opening game of the best-of-three series, Oxford grabbed the early 1-0 lead with back-to-back hits to start the game from Roth and Kelly Crumpton. They pushed another run across in the third off a RBI-walk from Lock Elliott to go up 2-0.

The Chargers had plenty of chances to extend their lead and possibly break the game open with bases loaded multiple times, but they could never push another run across. Oxford left eight men on base in Friday’s game with four of them in scoring position.

Tupelo’s Mason Morris, an Ole Miss commit, got the start on the mound and held the Chargers to two runs off eight hits while striking out seven and walking three others.

“We out hit them,” Baughman said. “It was kind of like (Thursday), we just couldn’t piece it together. We tried to bunt some guys over.”

Much like Dixon Webb did for Oxford in game one of the series, Roth gave Oxford a chance to leave Tupelo with a win and bring the series back to Edwin Moak Field. Roth pitched seven innings, holding the Golden Wave to one run through six innings and struck out eight Tupelo batters.

With the game on the line a victory needed, Baughman said he did not give one thought to pulling Roth in the seventh inning in place of a fresh arm to get the final three outs.

“There was zero chance in the world I’m pulling (Roth) in the seventh,” Baughman said. “He’s earned it. He competes. He’s pitched for us in big game in four years. He’s not coming out the ballgame right there. He gave us a shot. In playoff baseball, especially at this level at 6A, that’s all you can ask for. He was electric.”

Tupelo will face DeSoto Central in next week’s third round.