LONE GROVE — Drake Harper continued his torrid hitting, depositing a 3-1 offering over the fence in center field.
The two-run blast in the sixth inning powered the host Ardmore Cardinals past Ada, 3-1, at Lone Grove High School on Tuesday.
The Cardinals — Ardmore’s American Legion team — swept the Braves to improve their record to 8-7.
Harper, one of four area alums looking to continue their respective baseball careers, had an RBI single and a two-run home run in the first game, a 7-4 triumph.
“Today, I felt like I presented myself pretty well,” Harper said. “I’m going up there with an idea that I want to hit the ball hard, no matter where I hit it. I could hit it back to the pitcher, but I’ll be happy if I hit it hard.
“I never really know who’s watching.”
The story of the day was the Cardinals’ defense. Solid throughout, they showed off some highlight-reel plays in the second contest.
Starting pitcher Scott Brinkley, of Tushka, lost his no-hit bid in the fourth inning, allowing a lead-off double. Two pitches later, Murray State College catcher Cade Carter picked off the base runner. Southeastern infielder Cade Clay applied the tag. The play erased a threat in a scoreless game.
Coach Greg Ferguson said he “absolutely” felt the momentum shift.
Plainview graduate Carter Bowker, who played left field, agreed.
“It gets us going, I guess. It really pumped us up,” Bowker said. About the throw: “He smoked him. It was a cannon.”
In the top of the next inning, after a lead-off single, Brinkley induced a lineout to left field. Bowker’s forward momentum allowed him to throw a one-hop strike to first baseman Alex Brooks — a Durant grad — to double off the runner.
Bowker also sparked the offense, as he was hit by a pitch with two outs in the fifth. He stole second base on the next pitch, and scored the game’s first run as Ty Crenshaw, a rising senior at Sulphur, singled to left.
“I feel like it just comes to me,” Crenshaw said of hitting with two outs. “Sometimes it won’t happen. It just depends on what day it is. I guess today, we both had it. I’m glad for it. It gave us the win.”
Brinkley helped himself, as he wiggled out of trouble in the next half-inning. Ada began the frame with a pair of lead-off singles through the left side, prompting a mound visit by Ferguson. Another single to left field loaded the bases; Bowker’s accurate throw held the runners.
“It was a decent play, I guess,” Bowker said. “Just do what I got to do, I guess, to help the team.”
Brinkley induced a foul out, and Vernon followed with a sliding catch. A run scored, but Brinkley escaped without further harm.
With two outs in the seventh, Brooks dove to his right to corral a grounder, got up and tossed to Brinkley covering first to secure the win.
Harper’s home run also came with two outs — but an inning earlier. Batting in front of Harper, Carter drew a walk. Tishomingo grad Clayton Cramer, the courtesy runner, stole second. But Harper’s blast cleared the center field wall easily.
“It’s really just keeping the mind clear and focusing on what you need to do,” Harper said of hitting with two outs. “He had me (at) three balls, one strike. You’ve got to know what pitches are coming. I knew he was going to throw me a fastball. I just didn’t know where it was going to be. It caught enough of the plate and I was able to hit it.”