E.A. Sports Today

Oxford opens strong

Yellow Jackets take Game 1 from Hartselle, Game 2 postponed to Saturday; all other county series start Saturday

Oxford’s Jake Spivey (16) stands at third after the first of his two triples in Friday’s rainy Class 6A playoff opener against Hartselle. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD —They say the triple is the hardest hit to get in baseball. For a catcher it’s probably triple-y hard.

Playing in the first playoff game of his career Friday, Oxford catcher Jake Spivey ripped two three-baggers into the cavernous gaps of the Signature Field in Choccolocco Park and drove in three runs with them as the Yellow Jackets rallied in the rain to beat Hartselle 14-4 in Game 1 of their Class 6A playoff series.

It rained throughout the game, prompting officials to postpone the scheduled Game 2 until 2 p.m. Saturday with an if-necessary game to follow.

Playing to the theme of “survive the assault and work the cut” — a boxing reference — the Jackets survived giving up two in the top of the first by rallying for five in the bottom of the inning before the teams were chased for a 40-minute weather delay and then kept pounding away once they returned to the field.

Spivey’s first triple drove in the first run. He scored the tying run on pitcher Jarin Turner’s RBI single. Chadd Adams’ two-run single later to make it 5-2.

Spivey hit a two-run triple in the fifth — after the Tigers intentionally walked Trey Higgins to set up a force — that made it 11-4.
“It’s a big park, I just started running as hard as I can,” Spivey said. “I guess they were playing shallow and I just hit it over their head. Everyone hit good. The whole team hit good.”
“The most exciting is the triple; it’s more exciting than a grand slam,” said Oxford coach Wes Brooks, a former catcher. “Because it’s action, it’s the longest lasting play, there are two or three throws, there’s a lot of excitement, most of the time there’s going to be a play at third base. When you hit triple it’s a moment thing. When you hit a double, yeah, but when you hit that triple it’s   just a momentum thing.”

The Jackets ripped 15 hits in the game, five for extra bases. Adams had three, including the walk-off squeeze in the sixth. Spivey, Turner and Dawson Winningham each had two.
“I thought we were focused,” Brooks said. “We’ve still got a lot of unfinished business. Like last year we won 15-1 (in Game 1 vs. Hazel Green before losing the series) and that’s something we talked about. Obviously, you can’t be satisfied.”

Turner munched on cookies and tried to stay loose during the delay.With the 5-2 lead in the first the Jackets could have lifted him after his 21 pitches to start him in Game 2, but painful history precluded coach Brooks from making that move.As it was Turner stayed in and pitched a complete game in the cold blowing rain. He remembers pitching in conditions close to snowing in the county tournament two years ago.
The Tigers loaded the bases on Turner in the first with none out on a single and two bunts and eventually scored two runs, but when the West Georgia signee came back from the delay eight of his first nine outs were by strikeout. He had 11 strikeouts in the game.
“It was probably just me getting a feel for the mound,” Turner said. “With this rain coming down it gets all mushy-gushy. It gets rough. You’ve got some   things you’ve got to work on. You’ll slide just about every pitch on that mound, the ball will get wet; you just find of forget about everything else around you and just throw the ball. Coming back in the bottom of the first and putting up the fiver that we did, the momentum just kind of carried us over.”
Brooks will stick with the rotation Saturday and start Trey Mooney in Game 2.

Hartselle        200 020 – 4 8 0
Oxford            510 062 – 14 15 2
WP: Jarin Turner. LP: Grayson Bray. 2B: Jarin Turner (O), Reese Howard (O). 3B: Jake Spivey 2 (O), Dawson Winningham (O).

Oxford right-hander Jarin Turner gave the Yellow Jackets a complete game and was sharp coming back out from a 40-minute weather delay. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Saturday’s games
Ohatchee at Sumiton Christian, noon
Donoho at Marion County, 1 p.m.
Weaver at Winfield, 2 p.m.
Hartselle at Oxford, 2 p.m.
Lamar County at Piedmont, 4 p.m.

We hope you enjoy the following gallery of photos by B.J. Franklin. To see more, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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