What?: 2nd Round of the 5A Playoffs - Best-of-3 Series
Where?: Lewisburg High School (Game 1 & - if necessary - Game 3) & Edwin Moak Field @ OHS (Game 2)
When?: Game 1: Thursday, May 1st @ 7:00, Game 2: Friday, May 2nd @ 7:00, Game 3: Saturday, May 3rd @ 7:00 (if necessary)
How can you keep up?: Bullseye 95.5 FM Radio, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter Account, Baseball iScore Gamecast at this -> LINK <- (click on respective Oxford/Lewisburg Game with correct corresponding date and time of game to watch)
Probable starting rotation: Oxford - So. RHP Jason Barber (5-3, 1.34 ERA), So. RHP Houston Roth (9-0, 1.73), Jr. RHP Jack McClure (3-1, 4.70). Lewisburg: Sr. LHP Jonathan Lindsey (5-1, 0.98), Sr. RHP Tanner Lloyd (5-0, 0.49), Jr. RHP Peyton Plumlee (3-1, 2.67)
The Lowdown: As you can tell by the rankings, this is as evenly matched as you can get.
Oxford has two stud pitchers, Lewisburg has two stud pitchers. Both teams are led by a lot of seniors. However there are several differences. Lewisburg's pitching has more experience and they are the defending 4A State Champions. Oxford's pitchers have some, but not a lot.
Much like Oxford has seen all year long (including last week), they will face yet another left-handed pitcher in Jonathan Lindsey likely in Game 1. Oxford has seen left-handed pitching from Saltillo, New Hope, West Point, Callaway, seemingly every other game Oxford has been in there has been a left-handed pitcher on the mound which is usually a rarity in high school (and Oxford just has one in their roster who is deep along the pitching staff). This is nothing new for Oxford to face.
When it comes to scheduling, Lewisburg has clearly played the harder schedule. They have faced teams from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Louisiana. They have also played the #2 ranked team in the Nation in Lambert (GA) but lost 7-0, beaten a top 25 in the state of Alabama high school, and beaten county rival Desoto Central - largely regarded as the best team in Mississippi this year. Last week they had lost to another Nationally Top 25 ranked team in Arlington (TN) 3-2 in extra innings leading up to this series. They have played three teams that at one point this year was nationally ranked in the Top 25.
And with all those opponents in mind, they are still hitting .301 on the year. Mind you - they did play Clarksdale three times and beat them by a combined total of 51-0 which helps, but hitting .300+ on the year means you are a solid hitting team.
While Lewisburg does have the better batting average, Oxford has scored more runs per game. Reason? Base-running.
The way both teams can pitch, I feel like what Oxford & Lewisburg does on the basepaths is what will determine this series. Lewisburg's Catcher has a gun on him as he has caught 42% of all base runners stealing. Oxford has 4 players that can steal, Lewisburg has 1 REALLY good runner that has stolen 33 bags on the year.
This is a complete flip of what Oxford saw last week to get into this position. This should be a fun series.
For Oxford to win this series, they must: Have No Baserunning Mistakes - The Patriots are one of the best teams defending the basepaths in 5A - a big reason why they won 4A last year. They have 11 pick-offs on the year and caught 20 players stealing - which is a little more than an out per game. Because of that Oxford must....
Continue Swinging A Hot Bat - Oxford has been putting runs on the scoreboard with hits a lot more often than they had been. This needs to continue with the way Lewisburg defends the basepaths.
Continue the Pitching Dominance - Barber and Houston need to continue their dominance and Oxford will have a great shot at winning this series. The defense behind Oxford must stay away from the errors. Oxford hasn't had an error-free game since Opening Day.
For Lewisburg to win this series, they must: String Hits Together - Oxford pitching has allowed a TOTAL of 18 XBH's this year. Oxford's pitching has something to do with it, but the outfield for Oxford deserves some credit as well. Many what could be doubles have turned into singles and have saved Oxford quite a few runs this year. Stringing hits together will be a challenge with Oxford's pitchers that both have a WHIP below 1.
Play Solid D - As you may have noticed, the first two Lewisburg's pitchers have ERA's below 1. Lewisburg has allowed more unearned runs than earned runs with those two on the mound. As much as baserunning may decide this series, so will defense as both teams have had around 40% of all runs allowed unearned this season.
Dominate on the Mound - Oxford's pitchers are a deadly 1-2 punch. Lewisburg has to match them blow-for-blow and give their bats a chance.
Weather: Game 1 - At first pitch, 63*F, Mostly Clear (no chance of rain), temps dropping to mid 50s during the game. Winds ESE 5-10 MPH
Game 2 - At first pitch, 64*F, Mostly Clear (no chance of rain), temps dropping to mid 50s during the game. No winds.
Game 3 (if needed) - At first pitch, 70*F, Clear (no chance of rain), temps dropping to low 60s during the game. No winds.
Other Notes: Houston Roth will attempt to be the first 10-win pitcher for Oxford since Phillip Malatesta did (10-0 in 2009). The winner of this series will face the winner of the Germantown/Saltillo series in the 3rd Round of the playoffs. This will be Oxford's first trip to Lewisburg in any of the three "major" sports.