Cards down top-seeded Ash­down for semis berth

The Saline Courier Weekend - - SPORTS - By Josh Briggs

HAR­RI­SON — For the sec­ond time in school his­tory, the Har­mony Grove Car­di­nals are headed back to the 3A State Semi­fi­nals af­ter de­feat­ing top-seeded Ash­down 10-6 on Fri­day at Har­ri­son.

The Car­di­nals last earned a semi­fi­nal berth three sea­sons ago, but failed to reach the fi­nals.

“It is in­cred­i­bly exciting,” said Head Coach Bran­don Myn­hier. “We have been play­ing for this all year. We talk about the semis and about how we want to get back there. Our ul­ti­mate goal is Fayet­teville. We want to play there now.”

Har­mony Grove jumped in front 7-0 af­ter an in­ning and a half, scor­ing all of its early runs in the sec­ond frame.

Chris­tian Young sin­gled home Shane Small for the game’s first score. Cooper White would later sin­gle home Hay­den Hil­son for a

2-0 Car­di­nals lead be­fore Jared Toler made it 3-0 with a hit-by-pitch RBI the next at-bat.

Connor Burrow fol­lowed suit, also tak­ing a pitch to the body for an RBI while Chase Chilton con­tin­ued the Car­di­nals’ success with a bases-loaded walk for a

5-0 Har­mony Grove lead mo­ments later.

Hil­son, up for the sec­ond time in the in­ning, made it 7-0 two hit­ters later with a 2-run sin­gle to plate Toler and Burrow.

Ash­down cut the lead to 7-1 in the bottom of the sec­ond, scor­ing on a Har­mony Grove er­ror.

Toler, how­ever, would grab the run back in the third with a sac­ri­fice fly for an RBI that brought in Eli­jah King.

Ash­down, not go­ing away lightly, quickly an­swered with three runs in its half of the third, pulling within 8-4. An in­ning later the Pan­thers found them­selves within 8-5 af­ter an RBI ground out.

Six straight Car­di­nals hit­ters grounded out in the

fourth and fifth in­nings, al­low­ing Ash­down to keep the momentum.

In the bottom of the fifth, Ash­down would use a sac­ri­fice fly of its own to pull within 8-6 of the Car­di­nals af­ter load­ing the bases with no outs in the frame.

Har­mony Grove finally ended its ground out streak in the sixth, later adding two runs on a 2-RBI sin­gle from Chilton to score Toler and Burrow for the 10-6.

Ash­down would put two more run­ners on in the game, but could not com­plete the comeback as Har­mony Grove ad­vanced.

Young started and tossed four in­nings, al­low­ing four un­earned runs on seven hits while strik­ing out six and walk­ing a pair.

Toler could not record an out dur­ing his time, al­low­ing a run on one hit and also walked a bat­ter. Trey Miller held strong in the clos­ing

role, throw­ing the fi­nal three in­nings while al­low­ing only a hit.

“They were awe­some. Young left it out there for us. He picked the ball up and went back af­ter them and did an in­cred­i­ble job for us af­ter our de­fense strug­gled a bit be­hind him,” Myn­hier said. “Trey Miller was just throw­ing BB’s and throw­ing strikes for us.”

At the dish, White led with two hits and an RBI.

Toler added two RBIs and two runs scored, fol­lowed by Chilton with a hit and three RBIs for the Car­di­nals.

The win sets Har­mony Grove up to battle No. 1 Manila in the semi­fi­nals.

“I don’t know a whole lot about them,” Myn­hier said. “They beat Bap­tist Prep to­day and we are hop­ing the rain holds off so we get to play.”

First pitch is planned for noon to­day at Har­ri­son.

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