E.A. Sports Today

Pitching rules

Oxford’s Mooney fires one of three no-hitters around the area on high school Opening Day; Heflin, Clay Central also fashion no-nos

Oxford’s Trey Higgins takes a big cut at the plate. Higgins hit a game-breaking home run in Trey Mooney’s no-hitter against James Clemens. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

By East Alabama Sports Today
Trey Mooney had an opening day he won’t soon forget.
The sophomore right-hander opened his 2019 season with a 4-0 no-hitter over James Clemens in his second varsity start to complete Oxford’s opening day sweep. The Yellow Jackets beat Russell County in their opener 9-6 behind a strong start from ace Jarin Turner.
Mooney threw 99 pitches in his gem (60 for strikes), struck out nine and faced 22 batters. He allowed two base runners – both on infield errors – and one was caught stealing. No one reached second base.
“He had them right where he wanted them every at bat,” Oxford coach Wes Brooks said.
“It just felt amazing to go out there and do it for my team, knowing they had my back every step of the way,” Mooney said. “I didn’t know (about the no-hitter) until the end of the game. I was just focused on getting it done on the mound and getting it done at the plate. No one really said anything until the game was done.”
At least not that he heard. There were a few winks and nods and even a premature blurt in the dugout before it went in the books as the first opening-day no-hitter Brooks can remember in his coaching tenure.
“We actually had a plan for him to go four or five (innings), like Turner,” Brooks said. “The closer comes up to me in the fifth and I tell him I want you to know there are certain things you don’t say so we’re not going to say it but if it (ends) you’re in the game at that moment, you know what I mean. He said he understood.”
The call to the bullpen never came, but there almost was another spoiler to the gem.
Mooney got the first batter in the seventh to fly to deep center. The next hitter grounded to third and as the throw reached first base one of the Oxford assistants says “No hitter,” but it was only the second out of the inning.
The final out came on a first-pitch slow roller to second that everyone involved said seemed to take an eternity. It would have been Mooney’s final allowable pitch as a sophomore had it gotten through, but it turned out to be a routine game-ending out.
Mooney had to be sharp because it was a close game throughout. It was a 1-0 game until switch-hitting sophomore shortstop Trey Higgins ripped his first varsity homer, a three-run shot off the batter’s eye in center, in the bottom of the fifth.
“I knew Mooney was up there working himself on the mound,” Higgins said. “We only had one run. I had an opportunity and wanted to help him out. The mindset of our team is we’re all up there trying to help each other out and when we’ve got a pitcher giving everything he’s got we want to help him out.”
In the true season opener, Turner gave up four hits and struck out six through four innings. He came out with a 7-0 lead. Jake Spivey drove in the first run with a double in his first Oxford at-bat. Peyton Howard went 3-for-3.
It was an opening day full of no-hitters.
Reese Morrison and Austin Benefield combined for 17 strikeouts in Cleburne County’s 1-0 no-hitter of White Plains in Jordan Fuller’s Tigers coaching debut.
Morrison started and fanned 13 over five innings. Benefield struck out four over the last two innings and got credit for the win after Cole McElroy drove home Zane Farr from second base in the bottom of the sixth.
Brendon Roper was strong on the mound for White Plains. He gave up a run on five hits and struck out seven in six innings.
Clay Central’s Chip Ogles threw a complete-game no-hitter in a 1-0 shutout of Tallassee. Ogles struck out 15 and walked two. Boyd Ogles went 3-for-3 at the plate and drove in the run with a first-inning double. The Volunteers won their first game 7-3 over Dadeville.

Oxford’s Reese Howard scurries out of the batter’s box after putting the ball in play against Russell County. On the cover, Jarin Turner was sharp as the Opening Game starter. (Photos by B.J. Franklin)

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