By Jonathan Deal
Hayden Durrett couldn’t wait to bat again. Two innings earlier, the Ardmore junior committed an error at first base that allowed Madison County to score two runs and tie the game. In the bottom of the eighth, Durrett more than made up for the error.
With two outs and the winning run on third, Durrett sliced a ball to right field that scored Ben Hargrove. The walk-off hit sealed a 5-4 win in game one of Ardmore’s second-round playoff series against Madison County.
“It felt really good. When I made that error earlier in the game, I thought, ‘Man, this cannot happen,’” said an excited Durrett after the game. “Thank God my teammates were there for me when I was down. I really thought that (hit) was big in the outcome.”
The hit was big all right. It sent an already tense Ardmore crowd off the edge of their seats and into the air celebrating on a cold, damp April night.
“When he came off the field, I told him, ‘You will have another chance; just take advantage when it comes,’” said Ardmore head coach Andrew Smith. “Luckily, it was in the eighth inning with two outs. I told the guys that bad things will happen. It’s how you respond. It was big win against a good team.”
Ardmore led 2-0 in the second game before it was called off due to lightning in the first inning. The game will resume Monday, beginning at 5 p.m. If another game
The eighth inning walk-off hit was the end of an emotional game, which looked to be in control for Ardmore until the sixth inning. With ace Cody Reed on the mound, Ardmore led 2-0 through five innings, barely allowing a Madison County player a whiff of the ball.
But the visitors put together a big sixth inning, thanks to a few Ardmore errors to take 4-2 lead.
The game looked to have slipped away for Ardmore with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Garrett Miller drove in Austin Turner off an error from the first baseman to pull the Tigers within one run.
Thomas Davidson then hit a line drive over the second baseman’s head to score Miller and tie the game and force extra innings. Reed struck out his 16th batter of the game in the eighth inning to enter the bottom of the eighth still tied.
The win put Ardmore in position to advance to the third round with another win over Madison County Saturday.
“That was our first walk-off this year,” said Smith. “It’s all about the character of these kids, and how hard they’ve worked. Games like this just show what hard work will do for you.”