By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
In their first game action in 670 days, the Oxford Wildcat baseball team won their first two games of the 2021 season in convincing fashion, topping the Troy Athens Red Hawks, 10-0, on April 6 and the Oakland Christian Lancers, 10-4, three days later.
Against the Red Hawks, a clash that was limited to five innings by virtue of Oxford extending their lead to 10 runs in the bottom of the fifth, senior right-hander Nolan Kutchey tossed a complete game, allowing six hits, while striking out five and walking just one.
Junior second baseman Tony Hatzigeorgiou and senior designated hitter Joe Roeher, who scored junior catcher Gavin Walters with a single for the game-ending run, both collected two hits, and center fielder Brady Carpenter, another junior, recorded his first career high school home run, clearing the left field wall by approximately ten feet.
The victory against Oakland Christian did not come quite as easily, as the Lancers took a 3-1 lead in the top of the second and, after the Wildcats rallied back to tie it in the bottom of the third, moved ahead again, 4-3, in the top of the fifth.
Oxford tied the contest again in the bottom half of the fifth on a single by Roeher, which scored left fielder and classmate Brendan Moore, and took the lead for good two batters later, when Roeher came home on a single by shortstop Ethan Burdua, another senior.
Still holding their one-run lead an inning later, the Wildcats added five insurance runs, with Moore registering the biggest hit of the frame, scoring Carpenter and Hatzigeorgiou with a single.
Junior left-hander Eddie Bieniasz drew the start, allowing just one earned run and three hits over four innings, while striking out eight Lancers and walking only one.
Sophomore Logan Marshall, a righty, pitched the fifth and sixth innings for his first career win, and Hatzigeorgiou threw a scoreless seventh.
“I’m most happy with how the kids are competing,” head coach Dave Herrick said following the Oakland Christian game.
“We had a few errors in this game, we had a couple of situations where Oakland Christian went up on us, pitchers struggling a little bit, and all the kids battled. Even when the kids are down in the count, they’re battling through, not striking out, they’re putting the ball in play and making the other team try to make a play. So, I’m most happy with how they’re competing.”
Through two games, Carpenter is the team’s leading hitter at .800 (4-for-5) with two runs batted in, with Hatzigeorgiou not far behind at .667 (4-for-6) with three RBI. On the pitching side, four Wildcats have combined to allow just one earned run in 12 innings of work.
“Nolan Kutchey did a great job for us on (Tuesday),” Herrick said. “He went out, 65 pitches and battled. He was in command of all his pitches and gave us an opportunity to win. He did a great job.
“Tony (Hatzigeorgiou), obviously, at the plate, he’s in the three-hole for us, same thing, battling, doing a great job, and then came in to close the game out for us. It ended up not being a save situation, but he came in, pounded the zone, and did exactly what we needed him to do.
“Brady (Carpenter), good at-bats, got his first ever high school home run, got that out of the way in the first game, and I would say the other one that’s really been impressing me so far is Joe Roeher. Every at-bat, he’s giving us an opportunity to have a good, productive at-bat. He’s stepped into kind of that DH role right now, and he’s doing a tremendous job of embracing that role.”
Oxford hit the road for the first time this season on Saturday, April 10 for a doubleheader with the Milford Mavericks, a member of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA), and will continue their five-game road swing on Wednesday with a date with the Everest Academy Mountaineers and Thursday with a doubleheader with the Berkley Bears.
Both these dates have a 4:30 p.m. start time.
The program’s next home game will come on Friday against the Utica Eisenhower Eagles, also at 4:30 p.m., followed by hosting the Rochester Adams Highlanders for two games on Monday, April 19, with the first beginning at 4 p.m.
By Teddy Rydquist