BAUXITE — After giving up four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Harmony Grove coach Brandon Kelly called timeout and met with his players on the mound.
“I pulled the infield in and told them nobody was hurt,” Kelly said. “The lead wasn’t safe, so it was time to bear down and get out of it.”
Harmony Grove relief pitcher Bodie Harris would get out of the inning by picking off Bauxite’s Austin Harris at first base and striking out Tanner Bates to end the inning.
“Our ability level is high, we just have to execute and play fundamentals,” Kelly said. “We settled in and got back into a groove and held them scoreless the rest of the time.”
The Harmony Grove Cardinals would go on to defeat Bauxite 9-6 Tuesday night.
Leading 3-2 in the top of the fourth, Harmony Grove put four runs on the board to take a commanding 7-2 lead.
“Our pitchers didn’t do too bad of a job. They gave us a chance to win and we didn’t walk a whole lot of people,” Bauxite coach Michael Mattox said. “We made a few mental mistakes on the field and gave up that four run inning that really put us in a hole.”
Harris reached on an error and moved to second on a single by Kody McClain. Rex Furry was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Tyler Smart hit an RBI single to score the first run of the inning.
A second run would score on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Hamilton, and two more runs crossed on a single by Brad Neighbors, who would be thrown out at second but not before both Furry and Smart scored.
“When we played Poyen and won 17-15, it was a team effort; one through nine started hitting the ball,” Kelly said. “To be good and beat good teams you have to play as a unit, and we are starting to have team unity and flow together right now.”
Harmony Grove took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. After Neighbors was hit by a pitch and with one out, Arron Arzt hit a single to put two runners on base. Neighbors would later score on a stolen base and passed ball, and Arzt would follow suit to give the Cardinals a two-run lead.
“Again, we failed to put together a solid seven innings,” Mattox said. “We waited too long to get it started, and we found ourselves in too big of a hole. But I was proud of the effort and them not giving up, trying to come back there in the last innings.”
After Harmony Grove picked up a third run in the second inning on an RBI ground out by Smart, Bauxite would score two runs in the bottom of the third to bring the deficit to one run.
Harris walked to lead off the inning and later stole second. An out later, Bates hit an RBI double to left field to put the Miners on the board. Matt Freelin followed with an RBI double as well to put the score at 3-2.
“We are trying to get back to what we’ve been doing all year, and we are starting to play our best baseball,” Kelly said. “To beat a team like Bauxite is always a good win.”
Bauxite would rally again in the sixth inning, scoring four runs to trim the deficit to just three.
Kyler Hickey led off with a triple and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Briar Sample. Chris Revas reached on an error, and Tyler Wills hit a single to put two runners on base with just one out.
A double by Blake Yates scored a second run, and a bunt single by Harris scored another run. Hickey, Revas, Willis and Yates all scored in the inning.
“We had a few hits in that inning, but we had a couple of bunts that were big as well,” Mattox said. “Wished we had gotten it started a little bit sooner.”
For Harmony Grove, Kody McClain pitched four innings, allowing two runs on four hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Harris closed out the game, allowing four runs on six hits with two strikeouts.
“Kody was a different kid on the mound last night,” Kelly said. “His confidence level was back up. To be a good pitcher, you have to have focus and mental toughness, and he had both of those last night.”
For Bauxite, Hickey pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
Harris was 1-3 with a run, stolen base, walk and RBI. Chris Gann was 1-3 with a walk, and Bates was 2-3 with a run, walk and RBI.
Freelin was 2-4 with an RBI, and Hickey was 1-4 with a run scored. Sample was 0-3 but had an RBI. Revas was hitless on the night but scored a run. Willis was 2-3 with a run, and Yates had a double and an RBI.
For Harmony Grove, Neighbors was 1-3 with a run and stolen base. Ryan Roush was 1-3 with a run scored and a walk, while Arzt was 1-3 with a run and stolen base.
Harris was 1-4 with a run scored, and McClain was 1-4 with a run. Furry was 1-2 with two runs scored. Jonathan Lyman had a hit, and Smart had a hit and two runs scored. Hamilton had a double and two RBIs.
The Harmony Grove Cardinals will start the district tournament next Friday at Mayflower and will play Fountain Lake in the first round. The Cardinals are 8-11 overall and 2-5 in 3A-5 Conference, and the Miners are 11-12 on the year.
Bauxite will play at Pulaski Academy Thursday for their final conference game of the season and will play Horatio at Arkadelphia next week before district starts Wednesday.
Mattox said the Miners will either play Robinson or Oak Grove in the first round of the district tournament.