Jack Kuzmicki scoring for Oak Hall
Jack Kuzmicki (10) returns to the Oak Hall dugout after knocking out his second home run of the season.

Oak Hall Sticks it Out in 5-0 Victory to Sweep Baldwin

It may not have been their flashiest win of the season, but the Oak Hall Eagles stuck it out when it mattered most Monday night.

The Eagles completed a season sweep of the Baldwin Indians in a 5-0 road-victory. Oak Hall controlled nearly every facet of the game, from pitching to hitting to fielding. They tallied up eight hits to Baldwin’s six and committed zero errors to Baldwin’s three.

Jack Kuzmicki drove in three RBIs for Oak Hall, two of which came on a powerful fifth inning home run.

Jackson Beach finished the day going 2-for-3 at the plate. He went on to score two runs and knocked in an RBI of his own.

Darion Medley and Neil Ruth combined to score a pair of runs for the Eagles as well.

On the mound, Troy Freeman and Jack Steen combined for seven scoreless innings. Freeman got the start, giving up five hits and two walks through four innings. Steen then took over for the final three innings, only surrendering a single hit on the day. Both pitchers also struck out two batters each.

Slow Starts All Around

Neither team could find their rhythm early in the afternoon. The Eagles led off with a single from Harrison Beach, while the Indians got a runner on board via a hit from Jonathan Smalenski. Both runners ended up stranded on the basepaths for their respective squads in the first inning. Baldwin forced a pop out and line out to keep Beach from scoring, while Freeman secured a strikeout for Oak Hall to finish the inning.

Oak Hall saw a slight offensive improvement in the second inning. Gavin Jones cracked a double into left field, and Emory Ezzell followed him up with a walk. This newfound offensive energy immediately got wiped away by a double play from the Indians infield. Jones was tagged out at third base, while Ezzell ended up stuck at second.

Baldwin finished the second inning similarly to how they finished the first. Following a pair of ground outs for the Indians, Carl Kohn hit in a hard ground ball single. Before Kohn could move, a fly out to right in the following at-bat wrapped up the inning.

Oak Hall Breaks Through

The Eagles eventually woke up on the bats in the third inning.

Neil Ruth led off with a triple deep into right field that came within feet of leaving the ballpark.

Jackson Beach immediately brought Ruth home in the following at-bat with a line-drive double down the right field line.

Kuzmicki later brought Beach home on an RBI fielder’s choice.

Medley then finished off the offensive surge by landing on first via a hit-by-pitch, advancing to third on a pair of stolen bases and scoring on a passed ball.

The Indians nearly found their way right back into the game in the bottom of the third. They led off with two singles and a walk to load the bases with no outs on the board. While Baldwin certainly had the upper hand, Freeman has already faced his fair share of jams this season. At this point, situations like these have become second-nature to him. Undaunted by the task at hand, he went about business as if nothing had just happened in the prior three plate appearances.

Freeman then forced a pop out, a fielder’s choice at home plate and a fly out to string together three straight outs. This stranded all of Baldwin’s remaining runners in the process, essentially erasing any traces of momentum they had generated.

“I just [kept] throwing strikes, and they weren’t hitting it,” Freeman said. “I trusted my infield, they were getting all the outs I needed.”

Kuzmicki Puts the Cherry On Top

The fourth inning came and went with minimal action on either side. Oak Hall went down 1-2-3 in the top of the inning, while Baldwin tallied up a walk and a single before succumbing to another fly out that stranded both runs. The Eagles hung on to a 3-0 lead after four innings of play, still seeking one more momentum booster to help them finish the Indians off. Enter Jack Kuzmicki.

In the top of the fifth inning, Kuzmicki stepped into the batter’s box with two outs already on the board.

Jackson Beach had hit a single to land on first two at-bats earlier. Kuzmicki knew he needed to make something happen here.

With the count at 0-2, he let his bat rip and blasted a no-doubter over the left field wall. Kuzmicki then pranced around the bases, having just knocked out his second homer of the year, and the Eagles now led 5-0.

“I knew he was going to throw the ball outside, so I got a little closer to the plate,” Kuzmicki said. “I knew it was gone right off the bat… It was one of those perfect things, [I] hit the ball perfectly and it was good to watch it fly.”

Oak Hall Wraps Up Another Win

From there, the Eagles cruised to victory.

Steen took over for Freeman on the mound in the bottom of the fifth and sat down the first three batters he faced. He picked up right where Freeman left off, ensuring that Baldwin stayed off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.

“I just threw strikes and filled [the strike zone] up,” Steen said. “I don’t overpower people with velocity, I just stay pesky around the zone and let my defenders do what they do best.”

Oak Hall’s offense died down following Kuzmicki’s home run, but the damage had already been done.

In the bottom of the sixth, Steen only allowed a single runner on base via a hit-by-pitch. He then forced a ground out, line out and pop out to retire yet another scoreless inning.

By the time the seventh inning rolled around, the Sun had nearly set both on the horizon and on Baldwin’s chances of mounting a comeback. The Indians managed to knock in their first hit against Steen with two outs already on the board. By then, the game had already pretty much ended.

Steen forced a fly out in the following at-bat, and Oak Hall clinched the win.

The Eagles will return to Roger Maris Field April 5 at 4:15 p.m., where they will host the Saint Francis Catholic Wolves. In their first matchup earlier this season, Troy Freeman threw a one-hitter to power Oak Hall to a 10-0 run-rule victory. The Eagles will look to sweep their crosstown rivals later this week.

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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