MINDEN, La. —
While the Ada offense rose to the occasion in Thursday night’s first-round showdown with host Minden, La., at the American Legion Mid-South regional, the Braves’ pitching sank to an all-time low in a wild 26-16 loss.
Matt Johnson homered twice and Blake Logan and Brandon Maggia also went deep for Ada as part of a 14-hit attack, but six Braves pitchers surrendered a club record in runs (26) while giving up 22 hits and walking 14 in the seven-inning, run-rule loss to the only team among the eight in the regional field that didn’t win a state title.
With the loss, Ada (38-12) will need a victory in a loser’s bracket game at 12:30 p.m. today to survive in the double-elimination event.
The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on Johnson’s 14th home run of the season (and fifth of the playoffs) off Minden starter Jerrell Jackson.
But RBI singles by Preston Gray and Cody Davis highlighted a three-run rally in the bottom of the inning off Ada starter Jake Sanders (1-3) that gave the hosts the lead for good.
Moses Isham took the mound to start the second and didn’t fare any better than Sanders. He surrendered three runs on four hits — including RBI singles by Bo Parker and Reco Mitchell — as Minden’s lead grew to 7-1.
The Braves then made a game of it with a two-out, five-run rally in the top of the third.
Tanner Bell, inserted into the leadoff spot in the Ada lineup with Hunter Marcum on vacation, started the outburst with a one-out double, and after Johnson drew a two-out walk to load the bases, Bell scored Ada’s second run on Dylan Tinkler’s two-out infield single. Logan then walked to load the bases, and Maggia chased Jackson with a grand slam to right to make it 7-6.
Minden again had an answer, though, bunching five hits and taking advantage of some wildness by Johnson and two Ada errors to score six runs and extend the lead to 13-6. Mitchell, Gray and Davis all had RBI singles in the inning, and Johnson forced in the first run, hitting Tyler Wallace and walking Parker after one-out hits by Kevin Ginn and Kirby Moore.
But the Braves came back again in the fourth. Bell led off with his second hit of the game, and Sanders walked. After both moved up on Johnson’s fly ball to center, they both scored on wild pitches, with Tinkler drawing a walk in between.
Logan then cut the Minden lead to 13-10 and added to his team home run record with his 20th of the season, a blast to right-center.
Minden’s scoring parade continued in the bottom of the fourth, again with some help from Johnson. Matt Warren capped the hosts’ three-run rally with an RBI single to left, but that was one of only two hits in an inning during which Johnson walked four batters, including Parker to force in the first run.
After the Braves wasted a leadoff double by Matt Benedict in the fifth, Tinkler took the mound in the bottom of the inning and, like Johnson, was a victim of his own wildness.
Tinkler issued the eighth and ninth walks by Ada pitching to Ginn (his third of the game) and Moore leading off, then Bell — who had moved behind the plate in the second inning — picked Ginn off second base for a big first out.
But Moore stole second and Wallace walked to give the hosts their 26th baserunner of the game in just over four innings. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, and after Parker was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Mitchell doubled down the left field line to drive in Moore (who was scoring his fifth run of the game) and Wallace (who was scoring his fourth) and make it 18-10.
Two-out RBI singles by Maggia, Benedict and Dylan Johnson in the top of the sixth pulled the Braves to within 18-13, but four more walks fueled Minden’s second six-run rally of the game in the bottom of the inning that ultimately ended the game on the run rule. Tinkler loaded the bases on two walks sandwiched around Davis’s third hit of the game, then Ginn greeted reliever Jordan Scott with a bases-clearing double to make it 21-13. Another walk, an RBI groundout and RBI singles by Parker and Gray extended the lead to 24-13.
The Braves briefly dodged the run rule with three runs in the top of the seventh. Johnson started the rally with his second home run of the game and 15th of the season with one out, then Josiah Nyberg walked and scored on three wild pitches.
Gray, who relieved Boyd (the winning pitcher despite surrendering nine runs, eight hits and five walks in less than four innings) and uncorked the wild pitch that scored Nyberg, was touched for a two-out RBI single by Kade Curry later in the inning that made it 24-16.
But in the bottom of the seventh, Parker capped a huge night with a two-out, two-run homer off Dylan Johnson that finally ended the game. Parker’s blast — just the second extra-base hit from Minden’s total of 22 — was his fourth hit of the night, and he scored five runs while driving in six.
The run was the seventh scored by Moore, who finished 3-for-3 with four walks from the leaoff spot in the Minden lineup. Mitchell, Gray and Cody Davis added three hits and combined to drive in 12 runs in the win.
Maggia finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored and five RBIs, and Johnson, Bell and Benedict had two hits apiece for the Braves in the loss.