Exclusive Interview: Zach Leichtman sits down with the unhittable Brennen Oxford

 

Although Brennen Oxford’s 30 ⅔ inning hitless streak was broken in Oyster River’s 4-0 win over Kennett on Wednesday, the junior lefty only tossed in the 7th inning of the game, so his nationally-recognized four-game no-hitter streak is still alive. Oxford’s incredible pitching has received attention from many of America’s most prominent sports news networks, such as NESN, USA Today Sports, MLB.com, Bleacher Report, and ESPN. I sat down with the 2016 first-team all-state selection and future Wake Forest Demon Deacon pitcher/outfielder as he looks to hurl his 5th consecutive no-hitter at home on Friday, as the Bobcats (10-5) take on Kingswood (8-7) at 4pm.

*Friday’s game has been postponed due to unplayable weather conditions. Expect the game to be played on Saturday afternoon- more details to come.

Leichtman: What has all this national media attention been like?

Oxford: It’s been pretty fun. I’ve enjoyed it. But once I give up a hit I can go back to being a New Hampshire high school baseball player.

Have their been any negative aspects from all the attention?

No, it’s just a lot that suddenly sprung on me that I wasn’t really expecting.

Have you seen anything funny or untrue on the internet in article or comments?

I’ve seen a lot of people roast me and be absolute savages on there. I think they’re pretty funny and they’re doing a good job of getting attention and making me laugh. Some people say they could take me 450 feet. I wish they would come try. I’m not saying I could get them out, but I’d definitely want to face them.

Some people say they could take me 450 feet. I wish they would come try.

How do you feel about people saying your accomplishment isn’t as impressive or important because it’s being done in New Hampshire?

I think it’s high school baseball. Across the board most teams are going to have four or five kids that know what they’re doing and the rest it’s just a secondary sport that they do in the spring. But it doesn’t really bother me. I’m not satisfied with myself yet either.

Why aren’t you satisfied?

Because I’ve walked 13 batters in four games. That’s not a lot but it’s not as good as zero. I prefer zero.

Do you think you could perform at the same level and throw all these no-hitters if you were pitching in a state like California or Florida?

Well, it depends on an all around year thing. If I were to be pitching there I would have the ability to be working on my pitching all year like they do. I think [I] possibly [could], but I’d have to have a lot of luck like I’ve had here. But maybe eventually.

How has your reaction or celebration changed from the first no-hitter to the fourth?

I haven’t celebrated during any of them. We’re just trying to make a playoff run and I understand that the regular season doesn’t win championships. It really doesn’t mean anything unless you make the playoffs.

How do you think your future in baseball will be changed, if at all, by this magnificent run?

It might have repercussions in next June [towards the end of the MLB draft process], possibly because of all the national attention. But other than that I think I’m going to college as an outfielder and a pitcher on the side.

Can you share any information on possible professional opportunities and that process as a whole?

I’ve been asked to throw some bullpen sessions and do other things before I shut down my arm for the season. But other than that I can’t tell much else.

18762365_1836714436381173_589301198_nHow have your teammates reacted to you throwing these no-hitters and the national attention that has come with it?

I think they think it’s pretty funny, the stuff that people are saying on the internet. It’s something to laugh at. We all need something to laugh at because I can’t live life up-tight and be concerned about throwing the next no-hitter, because whether I do or I don’t, I’m going to be fine with that as long as we win. But my teammates have been great and they have made virtually every play behind me and I couldn’t ask for any more.

Has your mindset changed at all from the first one to the fourth one, and have you felt any extra pressure throughout?

No extra pressure, I just know that the batters’ mentalities are changing. They are going to go after first pitch fastballs so if I throw less first pitch fastballs they’re going to be a little caught of guard, because they’re trying to break up the streak and get a hit for their squad.

Has there been anything that you’ve been doing differently during this run than you had prior to it, when you had obviously seen success as a pitcher but not to this sort of level?

I feel like I’m just making the pitches that I need to make and constantly throwing each hand.

Are you scared of losing the streak?

I’m not scared of anything.

How have your coaches helped you through this run?

They have been able to help me keep my head straight and just keep me on track mentally. They’ve let me know what’s going wrong, what’s going well.

Going into your next game on Friday, what are you looking forward to and what should the fans expect to see?

I love the game. I think the fans should look out for everyone because, you never know, there might be a fantastic diving play behind me, there might be a fantastic diving play on the other side. Hopefully we pick up the ‘dub’. I fully expect to pick up a win on Friday. I’d really love that. The fans should look out for…more of the same. But understanding that if I give up a hit, the luck’s just run out.

The fans should look out for…more of the same. But understanding that if I give up a hit, the luck’s just run out.

Have you noticed that your teammates have been extra mindful of the superstition of throwing a no hitter?

Not really, we don’t really do that superstition stuff. Goffstown in the first game tried to jinx it and that didn’t really work out, but other than that we just approach every game the same and try to win.

How did you feel when, in the last inning of the game when you were going for your third no-hitter, an Oyster River fan yelled “Brennen I feel another no-hitter coming”?

I thought it was pretty awesome because I was thinking the same thing, they were just saying what everyone was thinking. I thought it was a great thought and didn’t think it was going to jinx me at all. I was carving that game, and I thought it was pretty cool.

As I’m sure you know, the age old unwritten rules of baseball say that you don’t bunt against a guy who’s throwing a no-hitter. Has anyone bunted against you and if so how have you reacted?

We’ve had two bunts [against us] and [catcher] Andrew [St. Ours] pounced on one perfectly and the other one I ran down and threw the guy out, so it hasn’t really worked for them. But, I can see why they’d do that.

Say you had done this last year or two years ago, how would you have reacted to this differently?

If I had done it my freshman year or my sophomore year I think I would have been handling it very immaturely. I think I’ve gained maturity this year and I would’ve been off-the-walls and never really shut up about it. I would never shut up about anything back then.

I love baseball, I really do. I love Zach Leichtman and I love Aidan Yoder. I’ve had six pickoffs with my boy over there at first base.

Picture credits: Colleen Oxford