Cards down top-seeded Ashdown for semis berth
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.