Cougars split doubleheader with Oxford
By Phil Gibson
The Clay-Chalkville varsity baseball team won big and lost big Friday night, splitting its doubleheader with Class 6A, Area 13 opponent Oxford.
The Cougars won the first game 8-2, but was shutout 10-0 in the second game.
Sophomore pitcher Matthew Calvert held Oxford at bay in the first game to give the Cougars the win. After giving up two runs in the first inning, Calvert pitched six shutout innings. He gave up only six hits and two walks and finished with three strikeouts.
“(After the first inning) we talked,” said Clay-Chalkville head coach Brandon Johnson. “He didn’t really feel like he had his breaking ball, but his fastball was good, the changeup was good. I told him we were in a situation where we had to win. He stepped up and threw us another complete game and that was what we needed. He was awesome.”
The Cougars’ bats caught fire in the bottom of the second and they never let up. Catcher Michael Rodda went 4-for-4, and shortstop Tyler Duke was 2-for-3 with two runs, two RBIs and a walk.
It was a different story in the second game. The Cougars were only able to string together four hits against Oxford ace Joe McGuire. McGuire had six strikeouts and no walks in five innings of work.
“(McGuire’s) a warrior,” Johnson said. “In 6A baseball, that’s the kind of guy you’ve got to hit to win. I told our pitchers I think they can get better just by watching him pitch.”
With the loss, the Cougars fell to 2-1 in their season series against Oxford. They are still developing an identity as a baseball team, as their play has been somewhat inconsistent this season.
“It’s still early,” Johnson said. “We’re still trying to figure some things out. We’ve been good at times, we’ve been OK at times and we’ve been bad at times. So we’ve just got stick to our plan and keep getting better.”
Clay-Chalkville resumes area play April 2 when it hosts Pell City.
“We have two weeks now before we play our next area game,” Johnson said. “We’re going to be able to play a lot of baseball and that’s going to hopefully get us ready for those games.”