ADA — Ada reliever Willy Gould struck out Seminole pinch-hitter Austin Laxton with the potential tying run at third base to help the Cougars preserve a nerve-wracking 6-5 win over the Chieftains Monday night at a breezy Cougar Field.
Ada — which slipped to No. 9 in Class 5A after two tough losses this past weekend at the Hill-Prescott Memorial Tournament — improved to 17-12. Seminole, which also went two-and-out at Byng — fell to 25-5. It was Ada’s second win over the Chieftains this spring. Ada started its 2006 spring season with a 4-3 win over Seminole.
Close contests are beginning to be the norm for head coach Ronny Johns’ squad.
“They’re never easy for us. But playing all these close games against good people will pay off for us in the playoffs,” Johns said.
The AHS veteran coach said it was good for his team to get back on the winning track after a sub-par showing in Byng and with tough contests against Durant and Carl Albert on tap today and Thursday.
“It was good to come back and win today. Both of these teams were disappointed in what we showed at the Byng Tournament. This was an important game for us from that standpoint,” John said.
Ada travels to Durant (No. 11 in 5A) tonight where the junior varsity will take the field first at 4:30 p.m. with the varsity game scheduled for approximately 6:15 p.m. Ada then hosts the talented Titans (No. 1 in 5A) Thursday at 4:30 p.m. on Senior Night at Cougar Field.
The Cougars looked like they might break out of their recent offensive slump in impressive fashion, stringing together five first-inning hits that led to a 3-0 lead.
After Seminole starter Kory Collier recorded two quick outs, Clint Bowker singled. Chase Sanders then deposited the first pitch he saw over the left field wall to put Ada on top 2-0.
The Cougars then got consecutive singles by Ty Gower, Quaid Johns and Chad Palmer that produced another run before Seminole was able to get out of the jam by coaxing designated hitter Riley Keith to ground out.
Seminole got its first run in the top of the second when Mitchell Brown was safe via an infield hit, went to second on one of four AHS errors in the game and scored on an RBI single by Jon Ervin that dropped fell in shallow left field after it appeared Ada defender Chad Palmer lost the ball in the sun.
Gower, Ada’s senior lefty, then walked the eight- and nine-hole hitters to load the bases but got out of the jam when Dearing grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
Seminole scored twice in the top of the third to knot the score at 3-3 without the aid of a hit. The Chieftains scored twice thanks to a costly Cougar error, an ill-timed wild pitch, four walks and a hit batter. Gould was called upon to get the final out of the inning — which he did without the Chieftains inflicting further damage.
Bowker managed his second hit of the game to lead off the bottom of the third, stole second and when to third on a fielder’s choice. Gower then drove him home with a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 4-3.
The Cougars got two more runs in the fourth off SHS reliever Jon Ervin.
After Chad Palmer led off the inning by reaching on an error, Ervin got two out before Josh Balch ripped an RBI double down the left field line. Philip Tweedy followed with a clutch run-scoring single that gave Ada a 6-3 cushion.
Gould kept the SHS lineup in check until the top of the seventh when speedy pinch-hitter John Beavers got all the way to second on a two-base error to start the inning.
Wes May then lofted a ball to left field that looked like Palmer had in his sights. But again it appeared that Palmer lost track of the ball at the last second and it dropped in for an RBI double.
After Gould got two ground ball outs, Kyle Forgety — another SHS pinch-hitter — delivered a clutch RBI single that got the Chieftains to within one at 6-5.
After Forgety stole second and third, Gould retired Laxton on a called third strike on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
Bowker had two of eight Ada hits in the contest. The Cougars managed just three hits over the final five frames.
“I still think we can get better at the plate. We get a 2-0 or 3-1 count and we’re swinging at bad pitches. Or you have a guy having trouble throwing strikes and we’re hacking at the first pitch. Hopefully we can get (our offense) on track this week,” Johns said.
Seminole was limited to just six hits by six different players.