Oxford holds its own in tournament
by Nick Birdsong
nbirdsong@annistonstar.com
Apr 03, 2012 | 2378 views |  0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
You can’t accuse Oxford’s baseball team of being afraid to pick on someone it’s own size or even bigger.

The Yellow Jackets ripped up the competition in the annual Calhoun County baseball tournament, scoring more than 50 runs on their way to the title earlier in the season. The Class 6A Yellow Jackets, 2-0 in area play, took 19 players, four coaches and an administrator on an 8-hour charter bus trip to Cary, N.C. to play in the National High School Invitational tournament.

Monday night, as Kentucky beat the brakes off Kansas in the NCAA men’s national basketball final, I got Oxford coach Wes Brooks to give me a thorough run down of how his team fared against some of the nation’s best.

American Heritage (Fla.) 6, Oxford 2 — Oxford has eight players who have signed or are committed to play college baseball next season. American Heritage has nine, all of whom will play at the Division I level, five of whom are pitchers.

The Yellow Jackets got eight hits and gave up just five but American Heritage came up with pair of clutch base hits late in the game when it needed it most to earn the win.

University of Florida signee Tucker Simpson took the loss for the Yellow Jackets. The 6-foot-7 senior had a solid outing, striking out seven and giving up three runs in five innings of work.

Jackson Stephens had three hits. Joe McGuire tripled and Will Davis doubled.

Down 5-2, Mathew Goodson and McGuire walked to put runners on first and second in the bottom of the sixth. Then Gary Mason singled to right. However, an Oxford base runner was called out at the plate on a bang-bang play for the third out. The play prevented the top of the Yellow Jackets’ lineup from coming to the plate in what would’ve been a two-run game.

Oxford 7, Highlands Ranch (Colo.) 1 — Stephens, an Alabama signee, took to the mound and went seven innings. He struck out seven and gave up as many hits as the Yellow Jackets notched a victory.

Tucker Simpson singled twice and doubled to drive in three runs and Taylor McCracken got a pair of RBIs on two hits. Trent Simpson, back only two weeks from a back injury sustained during football season, had a pair of base knocks and Colton Turner contributed with a pinch-hit single.

Oxford 4, Lee County (N.C.) 0 — Zach Lovvorn pitched what Brooks referred to as his “best game all year”.

Lovvorn earned a complete game victory, giving up two hits and striking out six while walking none. Maybe even more impressively, he plowed his way through Lee County’s lineup in using 74 pitches.

Lee County reached base twice, once in the first and again in the fourth, but never got to second.

Tucker Simpson, who had a pair of RBIs, Trent Simpson, Stephens and Davis all doubled. Tanner Gardner had a single to go along with a stolen base in the win.

Oxford (19-9) hosts Gadsden City in area play today.

Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.

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