After beating Weaver with the 10-run mercy rule Saturday, the Yellow Jackets were back at it again Monday, defeating fourth-seed Piedmont 12-2 in five innings. The win puts Oxford in today’s championship game against third-seed Alexandria.
“The players that are playing the game right now, no one has ever told them they’re good, so they’re going at it to a prove point,” Oxford coach Wes Brooks said. “They’re playing with that attitude that’s kind of ticked off that there are a bunch of no names out there this year as opposed to the last couple of years. They’re kind of playing with a chip on their shoulder to have a name for themselves.”
One name that shined bright Monday was Dylan Johnson, Oxford’s starting pitcher. The senior threw a complete-game two hitter, allowing two runs (one earned) as he struck out four in his first varsity win.
“Their one- through six-hole hitters, I would bet, are just as good as any in the state,” Brooks said. “He minimized the damage. With no outs and the bases loaded he gave up one run. After a lead-off double, he gave up one run. At the bottom of their order, he put them out.”
With Johnson dominating on the mound, the Oxford hitters did their part, as well.
Piedmont (3-2) scored first when Cade Bradley was brought home on an error after doubling to start the game. But Oxford (3-3) set the tone in the bottom of the first and second innings, scoring two runs in each. After Piedmont added a run in the third to cut the lead to 5-3, the Yellow Jackets blew it open in the fourth.
“I thought their pitcher’s pitch count was getting up there, and a lot of times when that happens, you start leaving balls up in the zone and don’t command the strike zone well,” Brooks said. “That’s what happened.”
Oxford sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six times in the fourth. Dakota Beane singled to move Jake Cook to third with one out before a double by Joe McGuire scored Cook, and a double by Austin Jones scored Beane and McGuire.
With a chance to end the inning after three runs, Piedmont was plagued with an error and mental mistakes that kept the inning going and Oxford added three more runs.
“We just made too many errors,” Bulldogs coach James Blanchard said. “And you can’t give a team like Oxford second chances. When you get second chances like that it’s easy to come up and swing the bat because you’re making errors in the field and scoring runs.”
Beane finished 4-for-4 for Oxford with four runs and an RBI. McGuire and Colton Turner each had two hits. Bradley scored both of Piedmont’s runs.
Now comes Alexandria.
“I expect them to contend for a championship in late May,” Brooks said. “In the past, they’ve had some strong pitching and maybe not some powerful hitters, or maybe some powerful hitters, but not strong pitchers. But to me this year, I think their offense, defense and pitching complement each other well enough to make a run to the championship.
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star