VIDEO: Oxford takes lead in 5A finals with win over Tigers
PEARL — Oxford took the lead in the MHSAA Class 5A baseball championship series with a 5-3 win over Hattiesburg on Tuesday at Trustmark Park. The Chargers can clinch their second straight state title with a win in the second game Thursday at 4 p.m.
Jason Barber (10-2) threw his eighth complete game of the season for Oxford (27-8) in what was an eventful night for the senior right-hander. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth despite the teams being tied at 3 through three innings, finishing with a line of one earned run on five hits and six strikeouts after rebounding from a shaky start that was most of his own doing.
The Ole Miss signee also had three hits and drove in four runs in Oxford’s sixth straight win. Grae Kessinger, Drew Bianco and Sage Mullins each added two hits for the Chargers while Thomas Dillard drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth with a triple.
Barber gave himself a lead in Oxford’s first at-bat with a two-run single off Hattiesburg’s Dexter Jordan, but a walk, a hit batter and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases for the Tigers (26-8). Barber hit Devin Lang to bring in a run and threw A.J. Stinson’s tapper back to him wide of catcher Thomas Dillard and to the backstop, allowing Hattiesburg to plate two more runs for a 3-2 lead.
Barber drew Oxford even in the top of the third with a single scoring Kessinger and blanked the Tigers the rest of the way with some help from his defense. The Chargers took the lead for good in the fifth when Dillard, after walking in his first two at-bats, roped a ball down the right-field line to score Bianco from first and got a little breathing room when Barber plated Dillard with a sac fly later in the frame.
Watch Barber talk about what he said was “no doubt” a strange game in the following video.
Hattiesburg got its first hit to start the home half of the sixth and got to Barber for a couple more in the frame, but a pair of assists from right fielder Houston Roth prevented the Tigers from cutting into Oxford’s lead. Roth gunned down Orrion Bailey trying to go from first to third on a single and cut down Julian Conner trying to stretch a single into a double.
The Tigers put two on in the bottom of the seventh before Barber got a strikeout to thwart Hattiesburg’s final threat and put Oxford on the brink of its first-ever repeat.
Jordan was pegged with the loss after surrendering five runs (four earned) on nine hits while walking three in five innings. Stinson drove in two runs for Hattiesburg.
Watch Oxford coach Chris Baughman talk about the win the video below.
See Wednesday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage of Tuesday’s game.