Oxford's impressive season continues with 4-0 win over Avon Grove
By Steven Hoffman
Oxford starting pitcher Luke Rettig threw a complete-game shutout as Oxford topped Avon Grove, 4-0, on May 3.
Rettig limited a good Avon Grove team to just two hits—a single by Riley Davis in the fourth inning and a single by Bryce Porter in the fifth inning. The Oxford lefthander struck out twelve hitters and didn’t yield a walk as he efficiently and effectively set down Avon Grove’s hitters with an assortment of pitches.
“He did a good job of working ahead in counts,” Oxford coach Andy Wendle said. “He had command of all his pitches. He was moving his fastball around. He kept the ball down in the strike zone.”
Rettig's teammate, Justin Neskie, also a starting pitcher, said that he knew early on that Avon Grove was going to have a difficult time batting against the Oxford lefthander because he was spotting all his pitches where he wanted them.
“Luke was great today,” Neskie said. “He was locating his pitches really well.”
Oxford scored all the runs it would need in the bottom of the first inning. Rettig plated the first run on a groundout, and then Jay Morton singled in a run to make it 2-0. Oxford tacked on a run in the fourth inning and another in the sixth inning. What Oxford’s hitters did exceedingly well was work the count, see a lot of pitches, and keep the pressure on the opposing team’s pitcher and its defense.
Wendle said that his team, up and down the lineup, has been very good at working counts all season long.
Another big reason for the team's success has been the work of its starting pitchers. Rettig, Neskie, and Noah Sperratore give the Hornets a strong rotation, and they have given Oxford a chance to win each game. Neskie said that all three hurlers attempt to give the Hornets as many innings as possible.
The coach agreed. “We've had some great pitching,” Wendle said.
Rettig's 4-0 shutout over Avon Grove is one illustration of how solid the pitching has been. Another was Neskie's six-inning no-hitter over Great Valley just a day earlier. Oxford won that game, 15-0. It was only the second game that Neskie, a sophomore, had started on the mound for Oxford. Like Rettig, Neskie was able to keep the opposing team off-balance by relying on a lively fastball and locating his off-speed pitches.
With the win over Avon Grove, Oxford’s record improved to 11-3 on the season. As the baseball season quickly rolls toward its conclusion, the Hornets are in a strong position for district playoffs—which is very pleasing to Wendle, who is in his fifth season coaching Oxford.
Wendle said that the team’s success this year can also be attributed to its ability to execute in key situations. In previous years, Wendle said, the team would be strong fundamentally, but wouldn’t always be able to execute when the game was on the line.
“This team finds ways to execute,” Wendle said. “and they find ways to win.”
Oxford's push for the playoffs will continue on May 9 when the Hornets will travel to Sun Valley. Oxford plays host to Bayard Rustin on May 10.