Oxford takes first of three games in Crosstown Classic Series

Published 11:28 am Wednesday, March 2, 2022

The Oxford baseball team took the first of three games in the 2022 edition of the Crosstown Classic Series at home on Tuesday night against Lafayette.

The Chargers edged out the Commodores 3-2 in an electric pitching duel between Oxford’s Dixon Webb and Lafayette’s Radley Hill.

“That’s what you expect on Tuesday night; a clean pitching duel, low-scoring game, high energy and everything else,” said Oxford head coach Cade Hoggard.

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Oxford came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, as a leadoff single by catcher Campbell Smithwick in the bottom of the first was followed by a successful bunt by shortstop Ty Wicker. Lafayette third baseman Logan Caldwell’s throw to first on the bunt attempt was a wild one, sailing over first baseman Seth Ross’s head and allowing both runners to advance.

Oxford third baseman Brady Stinnett stepped up to the plate with runners on second and third and no outs, and drove a single into right field that scored both runners easily.

“We had a miscue on a bunt attempt that we really messed up, and it was not just the fielding and throwing side, we had people that weren’t where they were supposed to be,” said Lafayette head coach John Walker. “So they got guys on second and third and they come up with a big hit, score both of those guys and go up two to nothing early.”

With a two-run lead in hand, Webb was able to attack the strike zone with confidence, striking out the first batter in the second and eventually getting a double play to end the inning.

“For us to put two up right there, to give somebody like Dixon Webb a little bit of breathing room so he can go and attack, that’s huge for him,” Hoggard said.

After a quiet second inning, Lafayette broke through in the third starting with a leadoff walk drawn by left fielder Slayden Mooneyham followed by a double from center fielder Tyrus Williams that put both outfielders in scoring position. Mooneyham scored on a sacrifice fly by shortstop Elijah Thompson, and Williams crossed the plate on an RBI groundout by second baseman Everett Thompson.

“I think that’s the kind of offense we’re gonna be,” said Walker. “I’d like to be a team that can come up and hammer doubles and line a bunch of hits up but I don’t think we have those hitters. I think we have to manufacture runs.”

Webb settled in after the third, striking out the first two batters in the top of the fourth before forcing a soft groundout to end the inning.

“It’s kind of what we expect,” Walker said of Webb’s performance. “We’ve seen him a lot of times over the years and he’s really good.”

Oxford cracked the scoreboard again in the fourth when right fielder Cashe Shows stepped to the plate with a runner on first and two outs, knocking a dribbler to short that was mishandled by Elijah Thompson, allowing the run to score and Shows to reach first safely.

Webb cruised through the Commodores’ lineup one more time before handing the ball to Wicker, finishing his outing with five strikeouts and five hits allowed in six innings.

Wicker struck out the first two batters he saw in the seventh before forcing a routine groundout to short to end the game and secure the first game of the series for the Chargers.

Walker said he was proud of his team’s performance against such dominant pitching, but added that they had plenty of opportunities to close the gap and get back in the game.

“We left some guys out there. We had an opportunity to do some things and we didn’t,” said Walker.

Oxford improves to 4-2 on the season, while the Commodores fall to 3-2 after the loss. The next game of the series is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday at W.V. Brewer Field on the Lafayette High School campus.