Cardinals upset conference favorite Beavers

GLEN ROSE - The Harmony Grove Cardinals’ season has been everything but good so far this year. Coming off of a spring break road trip where they went 1-3 did not help the matter much either. With the conference season starting back up, the Cardinals had a lot on their plate as they headed in to Glen Rose to face one of the top teams in 3A this season.

With the odds stacked against them, the Cardinals played arguably the best game of the year as they used a strong offensive attack with an almost flawless defense to down the Beavers 5-2, picking up their first conference win of the season.

“We played last week in Jonesboro and got our butts handed to us,” head coach Brandon Kelly said. “Honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened to us. Our defense finally played like it is capable of playing.”

The Cardinals started their attack in the first inning by putting two on with one out. With everything looking good, Cardinals right fielder Kody McClain turned on a ball, but hit it right at short starting the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Starting Cardinals pitcher Bodie Harris made easy work of the Beavers in the bottom of the first with a three-up, three-down showing ending the opening inning with a 0-0 tie.

Landon Lewis, the Cardinals’ second baseman, opened the second inning by reaching first on a Beaver error. Chris Hamilton followed with the exact showing, reaching on another error by second base to put two on with none out. Jonathan Lyman loaded the bases with when a pitch got too far inside and pegged him.

With the bases loaded and zero out, Zach Caplinger struck out swinging for the Cardinals first out of the inning, leaving the bases juiced with Harris coming to the plate. With an 0-2 count, Harris hit a grounder to first. With the throw coming home to get Lewis for the force, the throw back to first led to a head-on collision with Harris at the bag for the Beavers’ third error of the game, keeping the inning alive and giving the Cardinals the 1-0 lead after Hamilton came around to score on the miscue.

Brad Neighbors followed with a single to score Lyman and give the Cardinals the 2-0 advantage. Ryan Roush ended the inning with a ground out to second.

Harris continued to pitch almost perfect baseball in the second. After two quick ground outs to short, Harris allowed his first hit of the game. That was not much of a factor as he forced his third ground out of the inning to end the second.

The Cardinals were in business once again in the top of the third. After putting the first two runners on, Lewis struck out swinging for the first out. Hamilton followed with a bases loading walk, bringing Lyman to the plate. After watching two pitches sail by for balls, Lyman found himself with a 2-2 count and the bases still chucked. The next pitch tied Lyman up and sent him packing after watching strike three go by for the second out of the inning.

Caplinger followed with an unassisted ground out to third to end the third-inning threat for the Cardinals.

After the inning, Kelly was furious near the dugout as he told his team exactly what Glen Rose was going to do in that situation.
“I said when they got down 2-0 in the count that they were going to throw a meat pitch and to swing at it,” Kelly screamed at his team. “There is no telling what could have happened there.”

Harris ran into some trouble on the mound in the fourth inning after getting the first two batters out on a fly out and ground out. With two outs, the Beavers put back-to-back runners on base. After a single, Neighbors made an error at shortstop to put runners on first and third with two outs. That was fine with Harris as he settled down and forced Glen Rose to ground out once again to end the threat in the third and keep the score at 2-0 Cardinals. The Cardinals went easy in the fourth after five pitches resulted in two ground outs and a fly out to end the top half of the inning.

Harris put together another three-up, three-down inning the bottom of the fourth, keeping all of the momentum in the Cardinals favor heading into the fifth. Aaron Arzt opened the inning by reaching on another Beavers’ error. McClain followed with a single to put two on with none out. Lewis walked to load the bases for the third time in the game for the Cardinals. Hamilton turned his shoulder and drew contact with the baseball to force in the third Cardinals run of the game after being hit.

Lyman reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring McClain from third. Another error by Glen Rose put Caplinger on first, scoring the Cardinals third run of the inning to make it 5-0 Harmony Grove.

That was all the Cardinals could get in the inning as they went into the bottom of the fifth with the 5-0 lead. Another bring-them-up, sit-them-down performance from Harris in the fifth continued his dominance on the mound for the Cardinals heading into the sixth inning, The Cardinals went easy in the sixth, only getting one runner on, but not scoring.

Harris tallied his fourth three-up, three-down inning in the bottom of the sixth and his third in a row to send the game into the final inning.

With the Cardinals finished scoring, Glen Rose tried to make a comeback. After the first two runners reached base, one on a double and one on another error by Neighbors, Harris got two quick outs but allowed a run on a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1 Cardinals. With two outs, Harris gave up and RBI single to make it 5-2 Cardinals in the seventh.

With one on and two out, Harris gave up another single, but quick thinking by Roush at first to throw over to third to get the runner trying to advance ended the game in wild fashion as the Cardinals took their first conference win of the season 5-2 over rival Glen Rose.

Arzt and McClain led the Cardinals with two hits each. The Cardinals combined to go 6 for 28. The Beavers made six errors in the game, allowing the Cardinals to take advantage at key times in the game.
Harris pitched a complete game for the win on Monday. He gave up five hits and struck out two. Harris forced the Beavers to ground out 10 times in the contest.

After the game, Kelly could not have been any happier with the way his team played.

“I am not taking anything away from Glen Rose, they are a great ball team,” Kelly said.

“But they were not on it today.”

With the conference trimmed to just seven games, the Cardinals picked up a huge victory to start the conference season.

“You have got to be on that in order to be successful,” Kelly added.

“Don’t count Glen Rose out because I think they are going to compete and make a good run at it. But, I am extremely proud of the way we play both offensively and defensively and it can only get better from here.”

The Cardinals will play again today at 3:30 p.m. at home against Poyen, a team they have already lost to twice this season. The Cardinals will hit the road once again on Wednesday to take on Episcopal for their second conference game of the year. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.