By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
Winning six of seven games in their lead-up to conference action, the Oxford Wildcats baseball program began Oakland Activities Association (OAA) Red Division play by taking two of three from the Rochester Adams Highlanders.
Oxford won the first two games of the series, which were played as part of a home doubleheader on April 19, by scores of 4-3 and 10-0.
Senior right-hander Nolan Kutchey tossed a complete game in the first contest, allowing seven hits, walking only one, and striking out four. Left fielder Brendan Moore, a fellow senior, collected two hits and drove in junior center fielder Brady Carpenter for the deciding run in the fifth inning.
The second game of the day was an offensive explosion, as the Wildcats tallied 16 hits, led by senior shortstop Ethan Burdua’s four and three from junior catcher Gavin Walter. Interestingly, all three of Walters’ hits were doubles.
Senior left-hander Sean Cooper picked up the win, allowing just one hit over five innings, walking six Highlanders and striking out eight.
In the final game of the series on April 23, Rochester Adams used an eight-run fourth inning to propel themselves to a 13-3 victory. This game was originally scheduled for April 21 but was postponed two days due to inclement weather.
Cooper, playing first base in this one, recorded two of Oxford’s four hits.
To round out their week, the Wildcats played two games at Plymouth High School on April 24. Head coach Dave Herrick’s squad topped the host, who are also nicknamed the Wildcats, 7-2, in the first, and beat the Algonac Muskrats, 9-6, in the latter.
Junior lefty Eddie Bieniasz worked all seven innings against Plymouth, scattering just four hits and surrendering only one earned run. He walked three and struck out six.
Sophomore catcher Logan Marshall led the way offensively, going 3-for-4 with a run batted in, and Burdua and Carpenter both added two hits.
As for the battle with the Muskrats, Oxford jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but Algonac worked their way back to tie the game at six in the top of the fifth.
Burdua scored the game-winning run on a single by Moore in the bottom of the fifth, and Walters, the very next batter, clubbed a two-run home run to bring the contest to its final.
With all these results, the Wildcats stand at 10-2 (2-1 OAA Red). The team kicked off their second league series of the season on Monday with a home doubleheader against the Lake Orion Dragons, with the return game coming on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
Through these first 12 games, Oxford has five student-athletes hitting at least .400, led by junior second baseman/third baseman Tony Hatzigeorgiou’s .545 (12-for-22). Burdua is hitting .416 (15-for-36), followed by Carpenter at .411 (14-for-34), and junior right fielder Brandon Kampo and Walters, who are both at .400.
On the pitching side, Kutchey boasts a 3-0 record and 1.05 earned run average, having allowed just three earned runs over 20 innings of work. Cooper has started two games, posting a 1-0 record and 12 strikeouts in seven innings.
By Teddy Rydquist