E.A. Sports Today

Hammond pitches, hits Oxford to win

Junior right-hander takes no-hitter into fifth, drives home three runs



By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – When your dad has played 14 seasons in the major leagues, somewhere along the way you’re bound to pick up some special insight into the game.

Of all the lessons Andy Hammond has gleaned from his former big-league pitcher dad Chris Hammond over the years, the two most important are how to be a good teammate and how to deal with adversity. He certainly has had his share of adversity.

Andy was in line to be a regular in the Yellow Jackets’ outfield last season, but ended up missing almost the entire season after his jaw was broken in three places by a fly ball he lost in a terrible right-field sun a week before Opening Day.

He’s back in the lineup now and you can’t keep him out of it.

On Saturday, Hammond took a no-hitter into the fifth inning for the second straight start and drove in three runs at the plate as the Yellow Jackets beat Central-Phenix City 8-1 in their second of three games Saturday.

The Jackets (5-3) lost the first game of the day 9-3 to Elmore County. They beat Clay-Chalkville 8-1 in the final game of the night.

“Without him I don’t think I’d be able to play this sport, how he really wants me to play it,” Hammond said of his dad’s influence. “He’s always saying to keep God first; without that you’re not going to be able to last long with all the things that can tear you down.

“There was a lot of stuff we went through, but my dad always says to never give up and I never did. My teammates and coaches cared about me and they wanted me to get back out there. Without our coaches making us feel good and like we can conquer the world and without God giving us the strength to go out there and pitch it wouldn’t be possible.”

Chris Hammond played 14 years in the big leagues with the Reds, Marlins, Red Sox, Braves, Yankees, A’s and Padres, retiring in 2006. Andy has been at Oxford since the seventh grade.

Hammond ended up giving up two hits in five innings for his second win of the season Saturday; he was part of a combined no-hitter last Saturday against Weaver in the Calhoun County Tournament.

Both hits he allowed came in the fifth inning when the Red Devils scored their only run. Cameron Day broke up the no-hitter with a soft liner into center and Jackson Cook reached on an infield single that loaded the bases.

“He’s kind of in the zone out there,” Oxford coach Wes Brooks said. “He doesn’t look bothered by anything. He’s relentless attacking the bottom part of the strike zone.

“His first two outings on the mound he was probably in the low 80s. His dad didn’t throw (real hard), but he had a great changeup, and so does Andy. He can throw three pitches for strikes. I think he threw first-pitch changeups to the first two hitters.”

And he showed good discipline at the plate, too. Hammond poked a low two-strike pitch between short and third for a two-run single in the first and singled home the final run in a three-run second. Austin Bolander also had two hits in the game. Every hitter in Oxford’s lineup reached base at least once.

He only got one varsity at-bat last year, and it was a pinch-hit appearance in the playoffs that drove in a game-tying run.

“I hate he didn’t get a year to play; now this is his first year in 6A ball and it’s different,” Brooks said. “I hate that he didn’t get the 100 at-bats, the 35-40 innings, because now if you get adversity, it’ll be sort of new and how are you going to respond to it?”

Hammond hasn’t faced any real adversity yet this season, but you get the sense he’ll handle it when it comes.

Elmore County 9, Oxford 3

Elmore County 103 000 5 — 9 7 3
Oxford 000 100 2 — 3 9 3

TOMMY EDWARDS and Reed Butler; MASON WILKINS, Austin Bolander (5) and Conner Syer, Derrick Miller (5). 2B: Jacob Sears (O), Dillen Miller (O), Jake Cook (O). WP: Edwards. LP: Wilkins.

Oxford 8, Central-Phenix City 1

Central-Phenix City 000 010 0 — 1 2 2
Oxford 232 010 x — 8 5 4

DAYTON EDMONDS, Robert Miles (3), Wade Chandler (4) and Jay Baker, Kyle Cox (6); ANDY HAMMOND, Jake Cook (6) and Derrick Miller. 2B: Austin Bolander (O). WP: Hammond (2-0). LP: Edmonds.

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