Smooth Criminal: Cards steal 53rd bag of season

HASKELL -- After beginning spring break 2014 with a sour taste in its mouth following a 16-2 defeat to Arkadelphia, Harmony Grove bounced back with a statement win over Lafayette County on Saturday, 13-3. To the tune of 10 hits, 13 runs and 11 stolen bases, the Cardinals got back on track just in time for their 5-3A conference opener today at Glen Rose.
“It feels good to have a win,” Head Coach Brandon Mynhier said. “We didn’t think we were going to get to play after all the bad weather so it was good to come back after having a lot of time off and score some runs and hit the ball and win.”
Harmony grove won 6 of 9 heading into the week-long break, including taking home some hardware with a first-place finish in the Poyen Invitational Tournament earlier in the year. On Saturday, the Cardinals put it on hard and heavy, starting with a run in the opening frame.
Leadoff hitter Landen Lewis crossed the dish after reaching on a single and stealing second and third. The sure-handed shortstop scored on a Logan Clay ground out to tie the contest early.
Harmony Grove didn’t stop there as it put a five-spot up in the second. By use of four singles, a hit by pitch and two walks, the Cardinals took a comfortable lead of 5-1 after two. Lewis, Cody Icenhower and Zach Caplinger all singled and scored in the home-half of the inning, while Clay added the team’s fourth straight one-bagger. Harrison and Pierce also scored in the inning.
Lafayette County added another run in the third, but failed to do any more damage despite putting runners on as Harmony Grove’s Tyler Hamilton struck out the side to end the inning and the threat. With a four-run lead, the Cardinals never looked back, adding two more runs in the third, three in the fourth and two exclamation points in the fifth and final frame to end the game via run rule.
Lafayette County crossed the dish with another single run in the fifth, but the comeback ship had sailed long before that. The win moves Harmony Grove to 7-3 on the young season, setting up a big match with rival Glen Rose today on the road.
Hamilton finished his night giving up two runs on four hits and struck out six in three innings of work. Jordan Allred closed the contest out with two innings of one-hit ball, striking out three in that time. The two Cardinal starters threw a ton of pitches before spring break. Mynhier says the week off was much needed for his two ace-caliber pitchers.
“Both of them threw (Saturday) just to get some work in and get ready for conference play,” Mynhier said.
The two gunslingers threw a combined 675 pitches in games heading into the break. Hamilton tossed the most in a single tilt, nearly reaching the century mark before completing the seven-inning affair with 98 pitches.
Harmony Grove swiped 11 more bags on Saturday, bringing its season total to an astonishing 53 steals, only getting caught four times thus far. The Cardinals are stealing bags at a rate of 5.3 per game.
“We like to take advantage when we get on base and try to move around,” Mynhier said. “It’s hard to get hits all the time so you have to move bases when you get on.”
Lewis led the Cardinals on Saturday, going 3 for 4 with three runs and two RBI. He also stole two bases. Icenhower and Caplinger followed with a 2-for-3 performance in the win.
Harmony Grove takes the field against the Beavers today at 4:30 p.m. The Cardinals defeated Glen Rose 5-0 in the finals of the Poyen tournament. Mynhier and his club are looking forward to the rematch.
“It is always a big game against Glen Rose,” Mynhier said. “They are always a tough opponent and always put together a great team. We have got to come out ready to play.”