E.A. Sports Today

Gracious hosts

All 3 Oxford teams in Dixie Youth World Series were eliminated Monday, but appreciative of the opportunity to play

Oxford O-Zone manager Rusty Gann talks to his team Monday after it was eliminated in the Dixie Youth World Series by Arkansas

South Carolina 16, Oxford 1
Arkansas 8, Oxford 3

North Carolina 15, Oxford 0
Louisiana 19, Oxford 1

Florida 15, Oxford 0
Alabama 15, Oxford 2

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — The Oxford O-Zone All-Stars’ stay in the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series may have been short-lived, but they didn’t go quietly.

All three Oxford host teams were eliminated from their respective series Monday at Choccolocco Park, but the O-Zoners did all they could to try and prolong their stay.

They gave the most representative showing of any of the local teams in an 8-4 loss to Searcy, Ark. They held the lead three times in the game before the Arkansas state champions pulled away with a five-run fourth inning after holding Oxford scoreless for the first time in the game in the top of the inning.

But even after they fell behind, coach Rusty Gann’s guys put a runner in scoring position in the fifth and fought to score their final run in the sixth.

“I liked our chances going in and we fought to the end,” Gann said. “We kind of went flat there in the fourth inning and didn’t score a run and they did; that’s kind of where we got behind the eight ball. We kept battling, but we just couldn’t get back.”

Gann’s Guys scored single runs in each of the first three innings to take leads, their first of the tournament. Two of the runs scored on wild pitches and the other came home on Alex Petty’s RBI single.

But the Searcy team managed to produce one-out runs in the bottom of each inning to tie the game. To his credit, Oxford starter Carter Johnson bounced back after the run to prevent any further damage. Carter gave up five hits and struck out three in his three innings of work.

Oxford had four hits in the game – singles by Petty, Johnson, Nick Thompson and Justin Bowen — and 15 base runners. The first 10 batters in their lineup and 11 of their 12 players reached base at least once in the game.

“It was better than (Saturday’s) game because we came together, we hit the ball and we had some good defense, but had that one inning,” Johnson said. “But overall we had a good game.”

By the time the teams finished the third it became apparent the first team that could have a shutdown inning was going to win the game. And that would have been Arkansas keeping Oxford off the board in the visitor’s fourth.

Arkansas then batted around when it came to the plate in the bottom half, taking advantage of two Oxford errors to fuel its game-breaking inning. Houston Behel broke the 3-3 tie when he dropped an RBI single just inside the left-field line.

“I got that feeling quickly we couldn’t have a bad inning, an off inning, and that proved to be true,” Gann said. “That would’ve been a big momentum swing if we could’ve got out front and stayed out front for a whole inning. It’s a game of momentum and I think they got it quicker than we did and held on to it.”

In the other two series being played at Choccolocco Park, the Oxford Majors All-Stars were eliminated by Minden, La., 19-1; and the AAA stars were ousted by Alabama state champion Hueytown, 15-2.

The Majors’ team faced two juggernauts in its two games. It ran into a team Monday looking to flex its muscles after being shutout in its tournament opener by Georgia and having a rain-day off to think about it.

The Louisiana champions hit two homers – one by Majors Home Run Derby winner C.J. Watts – and scored the most runs in a game of any team at the tournament.

“They’ve worked hard all summer just trying to prepare for what turns out to be two games, but they’ve enjoyed it,” Majors manager Bradley Harris said. “They worked hard and it meant a lot to them to have an opportunity to play.

“I guess the reward for getting to play in the World Series is worth it, but I guess you can say you are a little bit behind the eight ball being a host team and not being a state champion. Nevertheless, they really appreciated the opportunity and enjoyed themselves playing in this kind of event.”

Earlier in the day, the DYB Board awarded the 2019 World Series to sole bidder Ruston, La. The board also approved returning to the May 1 age cutoff for eligibility. There was discussion of a Sept. 1 cutout and transitioning into it, but the Board decided to recognize the May 1 date consistent with several other youth baseball organizations.

At Choccolocco Park, Oxford
Monday’s scores

South Carolina 10, Tennessee 0
Texas 10, Georgia 0
Alabama 11, Virginia 0
Arkansas 8, Oxford 4
North Carolina 14, Mississippi 9
Florida 8, Louisiana 3
North Carolina 7, Georgia 0
Mississippi 6, Alabama 0
Florida 13, Arkansas 0
Louisiana 19, Oxford 1
Tennessee 13, Texas 0
South Carolina 18, Virginia 4
Florida 6, North Carolina 2
South Carolina 12, Arkansas 0
Tennessee 13, Georgia 4
Alabama 15, Oxford 2
Louisiana 9, Virginia 5
Mississippi 6, Texas 5

Tuesday’s schedule

Winner’s bracket
South Carolina vs. Texas, 4 p.m.
Loser’s bracket
Georgia vs. Arkansas, 2 p.m.
North Carolina vs. Florida, 2 p.m.
Tennessee vs. Virginia, 4 p.m.

Winner’s bracket
North Carolina vs. Mississippi, 4 p.m.
Loser’s bracket
Alabama vs. Louisiana, 2 p.m.
Tennessee vs. South Carolina, 2 p.m.
Georgia vs. Arkansas, 4 p.m.

Winner’s bracket
Florida vs. South Carolina, 4 p.m.
Loser’s bracket
Arkansas vs. Alabama, 2 p.m.
Louisiana vs. Mississippi, 2 p.m.
North Carolina vs. Georgia, 4 p.m.

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