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Oxford Says it is Judd Syer O’clock

Oxford players celebrate with home fans’ after beating Mountain Brook 5-4 in 12 innings in Friday’s Game 3 of their Class 6A quarterfinal series at Bud McCarty Field. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Oxford players celebrate with home fans’ after beating Mountain Brook 5-4 in 12 innings in Friday’s Game 3 of their Class 6A quarterfinal series at Bud McCarty Field. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Oxford, AL – Hero of Oxford’s victory in 11-inning Calhoun County final gets it done again in the 12th as Yellow Jackets turn away Mountain Brook in Game 3 of their Class 6A quarterfinal series.(Includes videos, photo gallery)

By Joe Medley

One of Oxford’s most memorable baseball games this season went 11 innings. Perhaps Oxford’s most memorable game went 12.

Call it Judd Syer O’Clock.

The senior who delivered the walk-off hit in the 11th inning of Oxfords’s victory over Alexandria in the Calhoun County final did it against Friday, singling with bases loaded in the 12th as the Yellow Jackets beat Mountain Brook in Game 3 of their Class 6A quarterfinal series at Bud McCarty Field.

In winning their 13th consecutive playoff series, Oxford (31-10) clinched a semifinal showdown with Hartselle at home. Dates and times are yet to be determined, Oxford coach Travis Janssen said.

That series will pit Class 6A’s No. 1 team, Hartselle, against No. 2 Oxford, the defending 6A champion.

That hype will have its day. The Yellow Jackets just wanted to live in the moment Friday, and what a moment it was. Oxford players rushed out of the dugout to chase Syer into right field.

He broke off of an interviewed with a reporter when teammates chased him into center field with a water cooler.

Syer got emotional hugs from his mother and Oxford assistant coach Jordan Fuller, who was in tears in the game’s immediate aftermath. Fuller was Syer’s wide receivers coach in football.

Syer gave “all the props” to teammate Reid Maniscalco, who singled home the tying run ahead of him. Both hits came with two outs.

As for Syer’s part, well, it was Judd Syer O’Clock.

“I was just trying to put something in play,” he said. “I didn’t want to go home. None of my teammates wanted to go home, so we just had to make something happen.”

He relied on the same approach that helped him to deliver the winning hit against Alexandria in the county final.

“I try to stay simple and just do what I can, hit the ball where it’s pitched,” he said.

That Syer delivered in that moment surprised no one in black and gold, lead of all Oxford’s first-year coach.

“Judd is such a competitor,” Janssen said. “He’s the kind that can not have the greatest at bats and then he does that. Puts the ball in play and makes something happen.”

As for Maniscalco’s game-tying hit, he scored Canaan Whitman, who reached as a hit batsman to lead off the inning.

“I was just trying to see some pitches, get a fastball and do my job, really,” Maniscalco said. “That’s what I’m down there in that (nine) hole for, is to do a job.”

The hit continues a trend for Maniscalco, whose two-run home run launched Oxford’s decisive six-run rally to win Game 1 6-5.

Janssen said Maniscalco evolved to that big moment as Game 3 moved along. Maniscalco looked “tentative” in an earlier at bat, the coach said, but found his aggression in the biggest moment.

“He fouled off a first-pitch curve ball, freaking took a hack at it and fouled it off over here,” Janssen said, pointing to the plate-side entry to Oxford’s dugout. “At least the aggressiveness looked right.

“It was such a clutch hit in such a clutch moment, coming through right there. Proud of him, because he’s been a really solid performer the last three weeks. He’s been one of our best bats. He’s been really comfortable down in the order.”

None of those clutch moments would’ve been possible had not senior Carter Johnson delivered a marathon relief appearance.

The University of Alabama signee came on in the fifth innings and pitched seven more, working 104 pitches as he spread out six hits and struck out 10 batters to keep the game winnable.

“I think the longest he had gone was, like, two or two-plus innings,” Janssen said. “Maybe in the county championship he went a handful of innings.

“So, we were monitoring pitch count. We were monitoring how hard he was getting through outs. We kind of were thinking, hey, fifth, sixth, seventh, and let’s go to the house. He just kept going.”

Johnson exited in the 12th inning, after Mountain Brook’s Caleb Barrett led off with a solo home run to give the Spartans a 4-3 lead.

On came sophomore Bryson Bradford, who retired three consecutive batters to set up Oxford’s dramatic at bat in the bottom of the 12th.

“Poise, just so much poise,” Janssen said. “To be able to throw soft stuff in a playoff game, and the guy’s 110 pounds soaking wet. He just competes.”

This story will be updated.

Game updates

–Hudson Gilman making his first appearance in a while, starting on the mound for Oxford.
–Oxford trails 2-0 with MB batting T4.
–Nick Richardson’s grounder plus an error gets RJ. Brooks home. Oxford trails 2-1 into T5.
–Carter Johnson singles to reach, beats a rundown to score and tie the game at 2-2 in B5.
–Brooks grounder gets another run home, and Oxford takes it’s first lead, 3-2, in B5.
–T7: MB pushes a two-out run across to tie the game 3-3.
–Game headed to extra innings.
–T8: Oxford makes a play at the plate for the third out. Still 3-3.
–B8: Oxford goes down in order. Headed to ninth.
–T9: Carter retires the side in order with a grounder and two Ks. Still 3-3.
–Still 3-3 thru 9.
–T10: Forrest Heacock guns down a runner at second base to help Oxford get through it in order. Still 3-3.
–B10: Nothing for Oxford. Still 3-3 headed to 11th inning.
–Headed to 12th inning. Still 3-3. Johnson, pitching in relief, has 102 pitches.
–T12: Barnett solo Homer putts MB up 4-3. Bryson Bradford in to pitch for Oxford.
–B12: Reid Maniscalco singles home tying run … 4-4. Still batting.
–B12: With bases loaded, Judd Syer singles home the winning run.
FINAL: Oxford advances, 5-4. Will face Hartselle at home in the semifinals. Date/times TBD.

Oxford players celebrate with home fans’ after beating Mountain Brook 5-4 in 12 innings in Friday’s Game 3 of their Class 6A quarterfinal series at Bud McCarty Field. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Oxford players celebrate with home fans’ after beating Mountain Brook 5-4 in 12 innings in Friday’s Game 3 of their Class 6A quarterfinal series at Bud McCarty Field. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Photo gallery by Joe Medley

Oxford players chase Judd Syer after his game-winning hit in the 12th inning of Game 3 of their Class 6A quarterfinal series at Bud McCarty Field.
Oxford’s Judd Syer celebrates with fans after delivering the game-winning single in the 12th inning of Game 3 of the Yellow Jackets’ Class 6A quarterfinal series against Mountain Brook on Friday.
Judd Syer and Oxford assistant coach Jordan Fuller embrace after Syer’s game-winning hit against Mountain Brook on Friday. Fuller, who was in tears immediately after the game, is Syer’s wide receivers coach in football.
Oxford’s Carter Johnson delivers one of his 104 pitches in seven innings of relief against Mountain Brook in Friday’s Game 3 of their Class 6A quarterfinals series.
Oxford coach Travis Janssen huddles with his team ahead of the Yellow Jackets fifth-inning at bat in Friday’s Game 3 of their Class 6A quarterfinal series against Mountain Brook. Oxford scored two runs that inning to take a 3-2 lead.
Carter Johnson singles to lead off the Oxford fifth inning in Game 3 of the Yellow Jackets’ Class 6A quarterfinal series against Mountain Brook on Friday.
Oxford’s Forrest Heacock delivers a sacrifice bunt during Oxford’s fifth-inning at bat against Mountain Brook in Friday’s Game 3 of their Class 6A quarterfinals series.
Oxford’s Tide Gann delivers an RBI single in the fifth innings of Friday’s Game 3 of the Yellow Jackets’ Class 6A quarterfinal series against Mountain Brook.
Oxford’s Carter Johnson celebrates after scoring the game-tying run in the fifth innings of Game 3 of the Yellow Jackets’ Class 6A quarterfinals series against Mountain Brook on Friday.
Oxford’s R.J. Brooks scores the Yellow Jackets’ first run in the fourth inning of Friday’s Game 3 of their Class 6A quarterfinal series against Mountain Brook.
Oxford’s Hudson Gilman deals against Mountain Brook during Friday’s Game 3 of their Class 6A quarterfinal series at Bud McCarty Field. Gilman missed most of the second half of the season after reaggravating an injury in his left hand.

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