No bit of generosity went unpunished for the Ada Cougars in their showdown with Class 4A No. 2 Weatherford Saturday at the Bill Tipton VII Tournament.
Coming off a mistake-filled 6-5 victory over McAlester in horrible conditions Friday, the Cougars took that theme to another level against the Eagles on a perfect day for baseball. Eight Ada errors gift-wrapped six unearned runs — the sixth in the ninth inning to help Weatherford (23-8) score the winning run in a walk-off 9-8 victory.
Ada (11-15) squandered leads of 5-1 and 7-4, and after the Eagles took their first lead of the game, 8-7, with two runs in the bottom of the fifth (with the help of two walks from reliever Jackson Boone), the Cougars tied it with a run in the top of the seventh.
Ryan Kinder — who did a good job of damage control in the fifth after Boone, Ada’s second pitcher, had surrendered two walks and a single to load the bases with nobody out — struck out Weatherford leadoff man Robby Chambers to start the seventh.
But Ryan Wilson reached on the eighth Ada miscue of the game, and Luke Stark beat out an infield single (the only hit allowed by Kinder in two-plus innings) before Cougar coach Ronny Johns opted to walk cleanup hitter Talon Watkins to load the bases.
Luke Sandoval then lined Kinder’s first pitch to left field, and Wilson easily beat the throw home to score the winning run, sending the Cougars — who blew a 9-5 lead in an 11-9 loss to 5A No. 9 Bishop McGuinness Thursday — to their second tough loss in three days and making a tough-luck loser of Kinder.
Ada started fast, building a 5-1 lead after two at-bats against Watkins, Weatherford’s starting pitcher. An infield single by Easton Pingleton, an RBI double to right-center by Cougar starting pitcher Cale Russell, a single to right by Mason Girdley and a sacrifice fly to center by Caleb Balch made it 2-0.
Then, after the first Ada error of the game allowed the Eagles to score a run in the bottom of the first without a hit, the Cougars roared back with a three unearned runs of their own in the top of the second. Jackson Boone reached on a one-out error, Jordan Boone singled, and Pingleton delivered the first run with a groundout, and Russell plated the last two when he capped a tough eight-pitch at-bat (in which he was down in the count 0-2) with an opposite-field, line-drive home run over the fence in right.
The Eagles scored two of their three earned runs in the bottom of the second on three hits — including an RBI single by Drew Smith — to cut the Ada lead to 5-3, and they added an unearned run in the third with the help of two Cougar miscues to make it a one-run game.
Smith, who relieved Watkins to start the third, walked Jackson Boone with one out in the fourth, and Jordan Boone followed with a bloop single to shallow left-center. Pingleton reached on an error to score Jackson Boone, and Jordan Boone scored the second run in the inning on Russell’s sixth straight hit over two days, a ground-ball single to left, to make it 7-4.
But Weatherford (which scored in six of its seven at-bats) scored two unearned runs with the help of two more errors in the bottom of the fourth to again cut the Ada lead to a single run. Jackson Boone then came on in relief of Russell (who surrendered just two earned runs in four innings) and issued a leadoff walk to Garrett Gaunt, a single to left-center to nine-hole hitter Matt Hoffman and a walk to Chambers to load the bases.
That brought on Kinder, who coaxed a fielder’s choice ground ball from Wilson on his first pitch to force Chambers at second as Gaunt scored. With the Ada infield draw in, Stark hit a shot to the left of Pingleton, the Ada shortstop, who snagged the ball with a dive to his left and, from his knees, threw out Stark at first as Hoffman came home with the go-ahead run.
Kinder then retired Sandoval on a line drive to right to end the inning, and he worked around a two-out walk to pitch a scoreless sixth.
In the top of the seventh, Smith — who had allowed just four hits and one earned run over the previous four innings — issued a one-out walk to Balch. Scott Johnson followed with his third hit of the game, a line-drive single to left-center, and after Kinder struck out, Andrew Leach hit a ground ball up the middle.
Sandoval, the Weatherford shortstop, got a glove on the ball to keep it on the infield, but he deflected it. Freshman Rusty Hoppe (running for Balch) never stopped running and scored easily ahead of the throw to the plate to tie the game. Jackson Boone then walked to load the bases and finally chase Smith, but Grant Schamburg came in to strike out Jordan Boone and, with his team’s rally in the bottom of the seventh, earn the victory.
Stark finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs to pace Weatherford’s eight-hit attack, while Russell — whose streak of consecutive hits was snapped when he popped out to right in the sixth with Pingleton (who had singled with two outs) at third base — and Johnson had three hits apiece for the Cougars, who outhit the Eagles, 12-8.
Ada, which will host Madill in a 4A district tournament on April 28, starts a busy pre-playoff schedule Monday, when the Cougars visit Holdenville for a 4:30 p.m. contest.