By JEFF CALI
ADA — The Ada Cougars can chalk up Tuesday night’s 10-inning marathon with Durant as one that got away.
Again. And again. And again.
Coach Ronny Johns’ team left the game-winning run at third base three out of the last five innings and stranded 13 baserunners altogether in a disheartening 3-2 loss to the visiting Lions at Cougar Field.
Ada, which had moved up to No. 8 in Class 5A this week, saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end and fell to 11-6 on the year while Durant improved to 12-9.
“We left runners in scoring position all day. We just didn’t get the big hit. We just didn’t come through today,” Johns said.
And to make matters worse, all three Durant runs were aided by a combined six Cougar errors.
“We gave them three runs. It’s very frustrating,” Johns said.
Durant struck first when Max White reached on an error leading off the game, moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt and hustled to third on a wild pitch. He then scored on a sacrifice fly by Justin Stephens.
But the Lions’ lead wouldn’t last long.
Josh Balch led off Ada’s half of the first with a sharp single to center and went to second on Philip Tweedy’s sacrifice bunt. After Clint Bowker walked, Chase Sanders ripped a two-RBI double off Stephens, Durant’s ace lefty, to put Ada on top 2-1.
“I thought we were going to be able to score some runs off him,” Johns said.
But Stephens stranded a pair of Ada runners at second and third in the pivotal first inning on a strikeout and a popup to first base in foul territory.
After escaping a bases-loaded jam in the second with a strikeout of Stephens, Ada starter Ty Gower settled in and allowed just one hit over the next four scoreless innings.
However, Stephens was just as effective for Durant, keeping Ada off the scoreboard for eight straight scoreless frames.
It looked like Ada’s one-run lead would hold up when Gower got a strikeout to start the top of the seventh.
Stephens then bunted a ball down the first base line that looked like it was spinning foul. But Gower fielded it in fair territory and failed to get Stephens at first.
DHS slugger Cole Rodriguez then reached on an error before Gower struck out four-hole hitter Blake Stilwell — the team’s designated hitter — to get Ada within an out of a victory.
But after Gower beaned Jameson Joines to load the bases, Johns decided to bring Clint Bowker to the mound for the final out. The move didn’t pay off.
Bowker walked Durant’s big first baseman John Heath on five pitches to force in the tying run before avoided any further damage by striking out Jake Boyd on three pitches.
The Ada reliever cruised through the next two innings before Boyd led off the top of the 10th by hitting a flair just behind the pitcher’s mound. Bowker back-pedaled and tried to make the catch, but couldn’t come up with the ball.
With pinch-hitter Travis Caraway at the plate, Boyd promptly stole second — the Lions finished with eight swipes in the contest — and went to third on a passed ball.
Caraway then lofted a fly ball to left field for a sacrifice that plated what turned out to be the winning run.
Rodriguez earned the save and preserved the improbably Durant victory by retiring Ada hitters seven through nine in order in the bottom of the 10th.
“Give them credit. Durant hung around and took what we gave them,” Johns said.
The Cougars had oodles of opportunities to score more runs. In fact, they left runners aboard in seven straight innings, including the bases loaded in the sixth started by a single by Chad Palmer. Stephens then proceeded to bean both Alex Leach and Balch to load the bases but coaxed a groundout from Tweedy to end the threat.
Bowker led off the seventh by walking, but was left on base after three straight flyouts. And with runners at second and third in the bottom of the ninth, Stephens got Gower and Quaid Johns to ground out.
The game spoiled solid pitching efforts by both Gower and Bowker.
“Ty threw a good game and Clint did a great job. They threw good enough to win.” Johns said. “Offensively we had our chances to win the game.”
Sanders was the lone Ada batter with more than one hit, going 2-for-3. Ada managed just five hits in the contest.
White and Rodriguez both had two hits each for the visitors, who finished with six singles.
Ada outfielder Spencer Penrod may have saved two runs for the Cougars when he made a diving catch of Heath’s fly ball to right with a runner on in the third and also prevented a DHS score when he tracked down a Stephens fly ball to left while on the run in the top of the eighth.
The Cougars will try to get back on the winning track when they host McLoud Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Cougar Field.
“We were on a roll there, and now it will be interesting to see how we react,” Johns said.
By JEFF CALI