In a game in which momentum switched sides at the drop of a dime, it was costly Ada mistakes that eventually proved to be the difference in the Cougars’ tough 7-6 loss to rival Ardmore at home Thursday night.
Ardmore, ranked No. 18 in Class 5A, improved to 3-2 on its young season while Ada — which climbed to No. 7 in Class 4A this week — fell to 8-2.
The game was knotted at 6-all heading into the top of the sixth when Ardmore nine-hole hitter Tanner Love hit a one-out single to left field, his third base knock in as many trips to the plate. Leadoff hitter Dan Kyrkendall followed with a hit of his own before Ada pitcher Cody Johnson struck out pinch-hitter Jerrid Bonner for the second out of the inning. After Ardmore standout Carson McPherson — who had homered to dead center field in his last at-bat — was intentionally walked to load the bases, Tray Fish hit a routine grounder to second that was misplayed into an error, allowing what turned out to be the winning run to score. It was Ada’s fourth error of the game that helped produce three unearned runs.
“You can’t give anybody more than three outs an inning, especially a team that’s good. We had chances to make plays, and we didn’t do that and that was really the difference in the ballgame,” said Ada first-year head coach Robbie Burch. “I was happy with the way the kids competed. I thought they played hard.”
The Cougars grabbed their last lead of the see-saw affair in the bottom of the fourth when Jordan Boone drew a leadoff walk and Walker Whitworth followed with a single up the middle. Cody Johnson then belted an RBI double over the head of Ardmore center fielder Kyrkendall and Scott Johnson followed with a run-scoring sacrifice bunt that put Ada on top 6-5.
McPherson blasted a 1-0 offering from Cody Johnson over the wall in dead center field to lead off the top of the fifth to quickly tie the game at 6-6.
Ardmore relievers Kyrkendall and McPherson (who recorded a 1-2-3 seventh for the save) shut out the Cougars over the final three frames without allowing a hit after Ada had strung together seven hits through the first four frames.
“We hit the ball well, we just let it get away from us. I thought we should have won the ballgame,” Burch said. “It went back and forth and we just let it get away.”
Ardmore scored an error-aided run in the first and added two more in the second courtesy of a sacrifice fly by Jordan Sampson and a two-out RBI hit by Love to take an early 3-0 advantage.
Ada countered with two runs in the bottom of the second when Fish, Ardmore’s starting pitcher, battled wildness. The Cougars took advantage of three wild pitches, two walks and a balk in the frame and nearly got another run. Whitworth hit a sharp single to right-center and Jordan Boone tried to score all the way from second, but McPherson threw the Ada runner out at home with a nice throw to the plate.
The hosts took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the third when Cody Johnson led off with a single and Mason Girdley followed with a one-out homer to left that gave Ada a short-lived 4-3 edge.
Cody Johnson finished 3-for-4 with a double from the third spot in the lineup to pace the Ada offense while Whitworth added two hits and a walk.
Travis Galbreath had two hits and scored twice for the Tigers.
Ada travels to the Southeast Shoot-Out in Broken Bow on Monday, facing Hugo at 6 p.m. in a pool play contest. The Cougars then meet Broken Bow and Lindsay on Tuesday before advancing to Wednesday’s championship round.