By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
Bringing their 2021 record to 12-5 (3-3 Oakland Activities Association Red Division), the Oxford Wildcats baseball program won two of their five games played from April 26-to-May 1.
The week’s action began with a home doubleheader on April 26 against the rival Lake Orion Dragons, representing their second league series of the season.
Winning the first game, 5-2, the Wildcats dropped the second, 13-5, to end the day with a split.
Two days later, April 28, the two programs met at Lake Orion for the rubber match of the three-game set. Oxford took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning, but ended up falling, 4-3.
While he took the loss, the Wildcats’ starting pitcher, junior right-hander Gavin Walters, pitched well, allowing six hits and three earned runs over five-and-one-third innings. It was just one pitch – a three-run home run served up to junior Dragons catcher Tony Grazioli in the sixth – that came back to bite him.
Walters also had a nice day at the plate, recording two of Oxford’s three hits, both of which were doubles.
To complete their week, the Wildcats traveled to Clio High School on May 1 to participate in a three-team invitational with the host Mustangs and Avondale Yellow Jackets.
Jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the top of the first, Oxford easily dispatched Clio in their first game of the day, 11-1.
Interestingly, the Wildcats’ seven first-inning runs came without a single hit, as the Mustangs walked six batters, hit junior Eddie Bieniasz with a pitch, and committed two errors.
Bieniasz, a left-hander, picked up the win, tossing three shutout innings. He needed just 40 pitches, 30 of which were strikes, and lowered his season earned run average (ERA) to 0.95.
Senior third baseman Joe Roeher had a strong showing with the bat, going 2-for-3, and second baseman Nolan Kutchey, a fellow 12th-grader, collected Oxford’s lone extra-base hit of the contest, a double to lead off the third inning.
In the Avondale tilt, the Wildcats used the opportunity to provide some of their reserves with playing time, as Roeher and first baseman Sean Cooper and left fielder Brendan Moore, both of whom are also seniors, were not in the lineup.
Scoring four runs in the top of the fifth, the Yellow Jackets prevailed, 6-5.
Junior right-hander Brady Carpenter started for Oxford, which was his first pitching appearance of the season, and allowed four earned runs on four hits over four-and-one-third innings.
Sophomores Brody Burns, a righty, and Caden Bailey, a lefty, who were called up from the junior varsity team for the day, followed Carpenter, combining for two-and-two-third innings of one-run baseball.
The Wildcats tallied three doubles in the game, including one by junior right fielder Brandon Kampo, who is hitting .357 in 14 at-bats this season.
Through these 17 games, senior shortstop Ethan Burdua leads the team in hits with 20, while junior second baseman/third baseman Tony Hatzigeorgiou has a club-high 13 runs batted in (RBI).
On the mound, Kutchey has led the way, posting a 4-0 record and 1.29 ERA in 27 innings over five appearances (four starts).
By Teddy Rydquist