PEARL – It felt like the perfect season.
At the bottom of the dog pile after Oxford’s 9-0 rout of George County in Game 2 of the Class 5A state championship was a pitcher who made it through the entirety of the season unscathed.
As the Chargers recorded their first state title since 2005, junior ace Jason Barber’s accomplishments stood alone in rare air. The Ole Miss commit had just wrapped up a complete game three-hitter and remained perfect in his own right, recording a 12-0 record as a starter with a 0.00 ERA.
Earlier in the week Oxford coach Chris Baughman praised the offensive firepower George County exhibited to earn a spot in the title series.
He admitted it might be difficult, given the size of the Rebels’ line up, for Barber to not eventually give up an earned run.
But that prowess was nowhere to be found in either game of the series.
“Not only did it not show tonight, it didn’t show Tuesday. They hadn’t showed it all week because of the two guys I had on the mound,” Baughman said. “I have to give my guys all the credit. Those two that threw this week, they’re Ole Miss commits with all kinds of accolades for a reason and they showed it.”
Barber finished the season with seven strikeouts and no walks. His 12th win of the season comes after he threw a complete outing in Game 1 of the North State finals and six innings of relief in Game 3.
Fellow Ole Miss commit Houston Roth gave Oxford the spark it needed to capture a spectacular week. Barber finished it off with perfection.
A record like Barber’s is rare. So rare that the junior couldn’t realize the magnitude of what he had just accomplished after hoisting the gold glove trophy.
“I can’t even explain it,” Barber said. “I tried to go game by game, pitch by pitch. I’m sure I’ll be able to look back on it one day and realize how awesome it was this season.”
Oxford’s (35-1) offensive provided Barber the support he needed to cap off a championship season.
The Chargers took a 3-0 lead in the first inning sparked by Houston Roth’s RBI single. Oxford scored one run in the second, two more in the third and capped off its attack with a three-run fifth inning.
George County (22-8) pitcher Ian Goff took the loss in 41/3 innings pitched. The Rebels would go through two more pitchers, but costly errors and fielding mistakes were tough to overcome.
“Two SEC caliber pitchers, that’s a great baseball team,” George County coach Brandon Davis said. “I’d rather lose to a great team than give it away, and they were better than us.”
The only other time Oxford captured a state championship in baseball was in 2005 when Baughman served as an assistant coach. Twice as a high school baseball player, he, too, hoisted a championship trophy.
Next to having his child and marrying his wife, the coach said winning a state championship is “the best feeling in the world.”
Except of all the ones he’s been a part of, victory was the sweetest Thursday night.
“There’s no doubt in my mind it feels better as a coach because I get to watch that bunch do what they just did, put in 365 days plus of the hardest work I’ve ever seen an Oxford team put in,” he said. “There wasn’t anybody that was going to beat them tonight.”
Contact Courtney Cronin at (601) 961-7091 or email@example.com. Follow @CourtneyRCronin on Twitter.