E.A. Sports Today

Moore gives Moody blues

Moore, 2 other Jackets combine to no-hit Moody

Judd Moore took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and Jarin Turner and Nick Hamlin finished it off, touching off the celebration. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — The way Judd Moore’s first outing of the season went for Oxford this year he told his dad he wasn’t sure if he’d get back on the mound again.

The way he threw Monday, the Yellow Jackets may not be able to keep him off it.

Moore and two other pitchers combined on a seven-inning no-hitter as the Yellow Jackets blanked Moody 7-0 in the Choccolocco Park Spring Break Experience.

Moore worked into the fifth inning before his pitches started getting away, but Jarin Turner and eighth-grader Nick Hamlin were more than capable closing it out.

The pitchers issued four walks, hit a batter and allowed only two runners past first base. The gem ended in dramatic fashion, with Brody Syer extending his body for a diving catch in center field for the final out.

None of the Yellow Jackets, head coach Wes Brooks included, said they weren’t aware a gem was underway.

“No matter who’s in the dugout we talk about winning pitches,” Brooks said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the Atlanta Braves or the Bad News Bears, we just focus on winning every pitch, regardless if we just gave up a grand slam or made an error or struck out the side, both sides of the ball just focus on winning pitches and I thought … we had a total focus today all the way across the board.

“Judd set the tone by getting all three pitches over for strikes. This is his second outing of the year. He’s a guy that we need to come through if we’re going to be a championship team. He’s a guy we’re going to have to get some innings out of down the road.”

Moore had a rough time of it in his first outing on the road against Buckhorn, but he was commanding against the Blue Devils. He had been part of a perfect game and a combined no-hitter in summer ball as a position player, but this was his first no-hitter on the mound.

“After that outing I knew I’d get another chance and my time would come,” Moore said. “This week we have so many games going on I knew I would eventually get a chance. Coach Brooks told me (Sunday) night I was going to be pitching today, so I just got mentally ready and went out there and pitched for strikes.

“It was very exciting. Nobody ever said anything (about the no-hitter) and I didn’t say anything, but I knew what was happening toward the end of the game. I tried not to think about it. I started thinking about the next pitch.”

Moore came out after hitting the leadoff batter in the fifth. Turner, who pitched a complete-game shutout in the forfeited win against area rival Pell City on Tuesday, completed the inning and the sixth and started the seventh.

Hamlin made his varsity debut in the seventh. He admitted being “really nervous” when Brooks handed him the ball, but once he hit the mound he put all that behind him and got the last two outs on a ground out and Syer’s game-ending catch in center.

He said had he known he was coming in to protect a no-hitter he’d have been “a lot more nervous.” Moore had confidence both pitchers would do the job.

“I love it when a young guy comes up and throws and he becomes ‘a guy,’ and nobody knows his name, but then now somebody’s going to know his name,” Brooks said.

Syer’s game-ending catch to preserve the gem was reminiscent of Washington Nationals rookie Steven Souza’s diving catch for the last out of Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter on the last day of the 2014 regular season.

“I didn’t know there was a no-hitter,” Syer said, “but you’ve just gotta lay it all on the line, do what you’ve gotta do. I actually thought Jack (Peavey) was going to catch it. I’ll be honest my ankle wasn’t that good, so I had to dive.”

The Jackets didn’t get many hits either but they made the ones they got count. They scored three in the second and four in the sixth.

Oxford 7, Moody 0
Moody 000 000 0 — 0 0 2
Oxford 030 004 x — 7 5 0

WP: Judd Moore. LP: Bryce Lewis. 2B: Derek Miller (O). Hits – Oxford: Brody Syer, Caden Higgins, Carson Lindsey, Brantley Bargerhuff, Derek Miller. RBIs – Oxford: Brantley Bargerhuff 2, Derek Miller, Judd Moore.

Oxford’s infielders watch eighth-grader Nick Hamlin warmup after coming on in the seventh inning for his varsity debut.

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