ENDICOTT – The best season in Oxford baseball history came to an end Saturday.
A run of four straight come-from-behind wins had carried the Blackhawks (21-4) through the sectional play-offs and into the Class C state semifinals at Pete Sylvester Field in Endicott, but Oxford couldn’t find a way to bounce-back against the Keio Academy, who used timely hitting and solid pitching to earn a 10-1 victory and a spot in the state title game.
“We just didn’t have it today,” said Oxford starting pitcher Steve Locke.
It didn’t appear that way at the start of the first, as Locke quickly put down Keio’s one and two hitters on a three-pitch strike-out and a weakly-hit infield fly. But after giving up a walk, wild pitch, and two hits, the Blackhawks found themselves down 2-0 early – a spot they were all-to familiar with in recent games. The Section 4 champs answered accordingly, manufacturing a run with two outs in the bottom-half of the inning off of a Jake Vincent stolen base and an RBI single by clean-up man Ben Burdick. Locke followed it up in the second by retiring the next three Keio batters on just 11 pitches.
From then-on, however, Oxford was unable to hold-off the Unicorns.