McClain powers Cards to win

HASKELL – For the Harmony Grove Cardinals, wins have been few and far between. It was March 28 when the Cardinals last found themselves in the win column with a 5-2 victory over 3A South conference favorite and arch rival Glen Rose. Since that time, the Cardinals have lost seven straight including a loss to conference foe Fountain Lake on Monday, 6-4.

But Tuesday had a different feel about it. After an emotional few days, the Cardinals finally knew the fate of their head coach Brandon Kelly and how the rest of the season would go. Kelly was suspended last week and after a school board vote of 3-1 on Monday, Kelly was relieved of his duties as the Cardinals coach due to an undisclosed reason.

Under the helm of new interim head coach Brandon Mynhier, the Cardinals fell behind early but prevailed late to beat Watson Chapel 8-7 Tuesday. The win was not the biggest surprise for the Cardinals, though. It was the way the game played out. Down by two in the sixth inning with two runners on, Cardinals outfielder Kody McClain came to the plate. With the hit-and-run in order, McClain turned on a pitch and demolished it over the left-field fence to put the Cardinals up 8-7 heading into the last inning.

Arron Arzt started the game for Harmony Grove, giving up the first run of the game in the first to Chapel. The Cardinals battled back to tie the game at 1-1 in their half of the inning on an RBI walk to McClain. Catcher Zach Caplinger stuck out to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded.

Arzt rolled through Chapel in the top of the second, striking out the side. The Cardinals were sat down in order in the second and third while Chapel plated four more runs in the third to go up 5-1 using four hits, an error and two walks to do so.

The Cardinals added two runs in the fourth to cut the score to 5-3, but could not keep it close as Chapel scored one run in the fifth and sixth to go back up by four. But unlike they have done all season, the Cardinals battled back and scored five runs in the sixth including McClain’s three-run shot to put Harmony Grove up by one at 8-7.

“We were just going for a hit-and-run and he was ready to swing and it was deep,” Mynhier said.

Freshman Tyler Hamilton came in to close things out for the Cardinals and did a good job in doing so, despite letting the first two runners of the inning to reach via singles.

The win marked the first official win as head coach for Mynhier. After the game, he could not be any happier for his team.

“We have had a lot of adversity to overcome the past few days,” Mynhier said. “We have started to come together as a team. We have lacked a lot of fight in the past and tonight we brought a lot of fight.”

Mynhier coached at Chapel before coming to Harmony Grove.

While most people may have already counted the Cardinals out as a threat come the post season, Mynhier is not one of those people.

“I feel like we are peaking at the right time,” Myhnier said. “We may have gotten started too slow, but we are going to peak right here where we need to be.”

McClain led the Cardinals with a 2 for 2 showing at the plate, driving in four RBIs in the game. He also walked twice.

The Cardinals still have one last conference game to finish after having to postpone the rest after weather problems earlier in the year against Cutter Morning Star. The Cardinals were winning the game when the rain began. The Cardinals will conclude the game on Friday at Cutter.