Explosive offense on display in VHS-Oxford series|[04/24/08]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2008

Two teams known for scoring runs this season meet today at 6 in Game 1 of a best-of -three Class 4A second-round playoff series at Viking Field.

The Vicksburg Gators (23-6), winners of 15 of their last 16 games meet the Oxford Chargers (23-6) at 6. Game 2 is set for Oxford on Friday and a third game, if necessary, will also be at Oxford on Saturday.

Gators assistant coach Tim Hughes said the two teams had a choice of playing at a neutral site or flipping for home-field.

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“We decided to flip and they got it,” Hughes said Wednesday during a short practice.

One Gator player who is looking forward to what could be an offensive-minded series is junior catcher Blake Hynum.

Hynum has had a breakout season, ranking in the top two or three in batting all year and is currently at .458. He has six home runs with 27 RBIs and his 37 runs scored is second in Warren County.

Hynum attributes his improved hitting to former Vicksburg High and Major League Baseball player Roosevelt Brown.

“I worked a lot with Rosie and he was able to get my feet prepared right to hit,” Hynum said. “My stride is a lot better. It helps me against a faster pitcher, especially like what we saw in (Neshoba Central’s Donnie) Tabb.”

Tabb, a top junior prospect at Neshoba Central, tossed a 3-hitter to beat Vicksburg 3-1 in Game 2 Monday at Viking Field. The Gators came back in Game 3, 10-3, to claim the series, 2-1. Hynum had two hits in Game 3, and had four in the series, including two doubles and a triple.

While he has the six home runs and four triples, Hynum says he’s not looking for the fence.

“I’m just trying to get on base,” he said. “A lot depends on who the pitcher is. I try to adjust to what he is throwing. If that means placing a ball in right field, that’s what I try to do. But I feel I can handle different approaches.”

Hynum feels he is versatile enough to be more than a catcher.

“I can play anywhere on the field. Right now, I’ve got to catch,” Hynum said.

Catching gives Hynum a front-row seat to see standout Gator lefty Stanton Price. The senior was outstanding in the Neshoba Central series, pitching two complete game wins in three days, while striking out 23 batters.

Oxford comes in on a high note offensively. They’ve scored double-digit runs in their last three wins, including a 14-10 win over Tupelo, then top ranked in the state and America.

“I heard they beat Tupelo, but Tupelo made eight errors. We beat Tupelo here pretty good last year,” Hynum said of VHS’ five-inning romp in last year’s playoffs.

If you go6 p.m. – VHS (23-6) vs. Oxford (23-6), at W. Central