Gavin Jones scores for Oak Hall
Gavin Jones (21) safely crosses home plate after successfully executing a double steal with Ethan Szlachetka in the first inning of Oak Hall's 6-0 victory over the Baldwin Indians.

Oak Hall “Gets A Bingo” Over Baldwin Eagles In 6-0 Win

In an attempt to generate some creative dugout banter, a handful of Oak Hall players searched up some popular old baseball chants. They found three that they considered using in their next game.

“Hey, batter batter batter! Swing batter!”

“That’s a bingo right there!”

“You’re a disgrace to your family!”

The first one felt too cliche. The third one came off as just a tad too harsh. So they went with the “bingo” quote. And they certainly got a bingo for themselves in a 6-0 victory over the Baldwin Indians on Wednesday afternoon.

Oak Hall’s bullpen led the charge with a combined shutout on the mound. With the offense starting off hot in the first two innings, the Eagles stayed in control from the first pitch to the final out.

Troy Freeman got the start and the win, pitching for four innings while allowing two hits and five walks. Jack Steen then took over for the final two innings, only surrendering a single hit and no walks. Steen and Freeman also threw out three strikeouts each.

Jackson Beach, Darion Medley and Brody Beaupre each racked up two hits, with Medley also driving in three runs. Gavin Jones also drove in two runs of his own in the first inning as well. Meanwhile, Beach secured a team-high three stolen bases on the day.

Coming off a nail-biter victory over the Gainesville Hurricanes, the Eagles hoped to avoid another down-to-the-wire finish entering Wednesday.

Oak Hall Offense Comes Out Firing

Despite letting up a leadoff double, Oak Hall’s defense made it clear they were here to dominate early on. In the following two at-bats, Freeman secured a strikeout and Jackson Beach snagged a line out at second base. He then flipped it over to shortstop Harrison Beach to tag out Baldwin’s sole runner, putting the top of the inning to a swift end.

The Eagles immediately capitalized on their strong start with some instant offense. With a single from Jackson Beach and a walk for Jack Kuzmicki, Oak Hall landed two runners on base with just one out on the board. Medley then stepped to the plate and belted a line drive into left field to bring Beach home.

Immediately afterwards, Gavin Jones entered the batter’s box, still with two runners on base. After letting the first pitch he saw slide past him, Jones knocked a hard ground ball into center field. As Baldwin’s outfielders struggled to corral the ball, Jones hustled towards second base. While Jones safely made his way onto the bag, Kuzmicki and Medley crossed home plate with ease.

After Jones advanced to third on a ground out, the Indians walked Ethan Szlachetka. Oak Hall now had runners at the corners, giving them an opportunity to pull off a double steal. After a pair of pickoff attempts from Baldwin’s pitcher, Szlachetka made a break for second. As the catcher attempted to throw him out, Jones charged towards home plate. Both runners landed safely, giving the Eagles a 4-0 lead.

“I just knew that if [Ethan] stole there, they were going to try to throw him out with how aggressive the catcher was,” Jones said. “Seeing him throw it across, I just got the timing right, made sure I got past the pitcher and I went home.”

Freeman Keeps The Indians Off The Board

Baldwin put up some more resistance as the game went on. In the second inning, they secured a single and a pair of walks to load the bases with two outs. Freeman quickly shut that down with a ground out to second base. One inning later, the Indians once again picked up two walks and a single to reload the bases. Nevertheless, once again already at two outs, the Eagles snagged a fly out to put Baldwin back to bed.

Freeman has faced his fair share of jams as an Oak Hall pitcher, but as his 0.914 ERA shows, he nearly always manages to escape them unscathed. He shared that he never feels overly stressed in these situations, as he knows his defense will back him up whenever needed.

“I just focus on that one hitter and try to throw strikes at every at-bat,” Freeman said. “It’s that one hitter I have to worry about, it’s not really the guys on base. That’s the infield and outfield’s job.”

Back on the offensive end, Medley knocked in a two-RBI single in the bottom of the second inning to further extend the Eagles’ lead to 6-0. Despite being tagged out at second on the play, he had already given his squad the offensive boost they needed.

Steen Finishes The Indians Off In Style

After Freeman pitched another shutout inning in the fourth, his pitch count on the day had reached 74. Eagles Head Coach Kevin Maris elected to replace him with trusty reliever Jack Steen to start the fifth inning. With the Sun creeping down in the background, the Indians rushed back into the batter’s box, hoping to facilitate a quick comeback. Steen, however, had other plans.

His stint on the mound got off to a less-than-ideal start. With the count at 3-2, Baldwin’s Jonathan Smalenski knocked a double into right field. Steen remained unfazed. The next three batters he faced all went down with ease. A ground out, a pop out and a strikeout swinging put Steen right back in the driver’s seat.

Steen did have to work relatively quickly, as the umpires looked to hurry the game up as the clock continued ticking. Steen also wanted to take care of business as fast as possible.

“I didn’t want to try and short the other team,” Steen said. “I wanted to give them their chances… My mental preparation helped me get in there, work quick and fast, and sit them down.”

In the sixth (and final) inning, Steen made short work of the Indians. With a fly out to Medley in center field and a pair of strikeouts, the Indians failed to land a single runner on base in what ended up being their final shot at a comeback. The umpires called the game shortly afterwards, clinching Oak Hall’s third consecutive victory.

Oak Hall Looks To Continue Putting The Pieces Together

Despite plenty of impressive moments from Wednesday’s win, the Eagles did not play a completely perfect game. While Oak Hall normally steals more bases than a robber steals cash, the team saw four runners caught stealing against the Indians. Additionally, Szlachetka suffered a right knee injury while being picked off at third base late in the game.

Maris still gave his guys plenty of praise for their overall dominance on Wednesday. He chalked up the miscues on the basepaths to some early-season woes.

“Some days you have it, some days you don’t,” Maris said. “It’s a good learning lesson early in the season, we’ll tidy things up… [While] we’re usually a pretty good base running team, we’re going to also have games like that.”

As for Szlachetka’s injury, he noted that “it hurts a little” still, but it does not appear to be a major injury. Nonetheless, he will likely miss some time for the Eagles, the extent of which remains unclear.

Oak Hall will return to the diamond this Friday, when they will travel to Ocala to take on the St. John Lutheran Saints. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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