A Nice Make-Up Call for Oxbow

  • Oxbow's Trevor Moore, right, makes a catch as teammate Lincoln Ilsley and Randolph's Ben Osha look on during their game in Bradford, Vt., on May 10, 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Oxbow's Orin Mahikoa is welcomed home by his teammates after hitting a homerun during their game with Randolph in Bradford, Vt., on May 10, 2018. Oxbow won 3-0. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • In his socks Carter Moore, 4, plucks a foulball out of a puddle behind the Oxbow baseball field in Bradford, Vt., on May 10, 2018. Carter was at the game to watch his brother play on the Oxbow team. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Correspondent
Friday, May 11, 2018

Bradford, Vt. — Orin Mahikoa drove in three runs as the Oxbow High baseball team defeated Randolph, 3-0, on Thursday in a VPA Division III game. The first baseman’s big day at the plate propelled the Olympians to their fifth straight victory — and made up for a peculiar baserunning snafu.

Mahikoa, a junior, led off the second inning by hitting an off-speed pitch from Galloping Ghosts hurler Daniel Rosen into shallow right field. The junior then got a great jump as he tried to steal second, easily beating the throw by Randolph catcher James Grandy without a slide. As soon as he reached second base, however, Mahikoa turned around, headed back toward first and got thrown out in the process.

“Trevor (Moore) was up to bat and I thought he hit a line drive,” Mahikoa said of the head-scratching play. “When he caught (the throw down), I thought it was a line-drive catch and I had to go back to first. I was on second, I saw him catch it and I ran back.”

Mahikoa’s teammates gave him a considerable, sustained dose of ribbing in the aftermath, but he silenced them abruptly in the fourth with a two-run homer over the left field fence.

“After that, they can’t really give me that much (grief),” a smiling Mahikoa said.

The first-pitch home run, which drove in Lincoln Ilsley (reached on an error), was a no-doubter off the bat.

“That felt pretty good,” Mahikoa said. “First one of the season, (I) needed it. Kind of a slump, not really, but needed that; (the) team needed that to win, so we got it. … I haven’t gotten a fastball in a while, so I was thinking fastball first pitch hopefully, and it was.”

Moore (two hits) and Olympians pitcher Cody Grant, followed the homer with back-to-back singles, but were left stranded.

Oxbow (7-2) added an insurance run in the sixth inning after Ilsley led off with an infield hit. The crafty second baseman stole second and drew a throw from Grandy that went into center field and allowed him to take third. Mahikoa drove Ilsley in on the ensuing at-bat with a ground out to third base.

Grant’s performance was outstanding, with the junior posting a two-hit shutout on a mere 66 pitches.

“When (Grant) pitches, we have quick games,” Olympians coach Shawn French said. “He is the epitome of a strike thrower. He likes to work quickly, he has a lot of low-pitch innings. … That’s what he does when he pitches — everybody’s got to be ready because he doesn’t have a ton of strikeouts, but he throws a ton of strikes, and the ball’s always in play.”

The Oxbow defense was solid behind Grant — who recorded two strikeouts and four walks — marking an improvement over its performance in a 12-9 loss to Randolph on April 26.

“The (defense) was way cleaner tonight than it was at Randolph,” Grant said. “At Randolph, we had, I think nine errors, and we brought that down to two tonight.”

The poorly defended first matchup against the Ghosts (5-4) may have been a turning point for the Olympians, who haven’t lost since.

“That nine-error game was kind of a kick in the butt,” Grant said. “We had to get our stuff in gear, and then we just took off from there.”

The defensive play of Thursday’s game came in Randolph’s third inning with one out and a man on first. Rosen hit a ball hard up the middle that bounced out of the shortstop Moore’s glove as he tried to field it. Already standing on second base, Ilsley snatched the deflection out of the air and threw a one-hopper to first for the double play.

Things seem to be looking up for Oxbow following some early woes.

“The beginning of the season, we didn’t look so hot, looked a little rough,” Mahikoa said. “A bunch of misfits, Bad News Bears, kind of, but we’ve pulled it together. Bats are coming alive and we’ve got (Grant) and (Ilsley) to pitch for us. It’s going pretty nice.”