By Jonathan Deal
They had them right where they wanted them.
Ardmore trailed Alexandria 3-2 in the seventh inning during the final game of their third round playoff series Tuesday afternoon. The Tigers have won so many games this season in the final inning, they didn’t blink when faced with another late game deficit.
With one out on the scoreboard and a runner in scoring position, Ben Hargrove and Cody Reed made history for Ardmore with the swing of their bats. Hargrove drove home Thomas Davidson with an RBI-single to tie the score before Reed added another RBI with a shot to left field that scored Adam Clark.
Reed’s hit was the last of four consecutive hits that sent Ardmore to the 4A semifinals for the first time in school history. It was the final home at bat for Hargrove and Clark.
“We just keep coming back all the time,” said Reed, a Vanderbilt commitment. “Thomas came through clutch with a double, Ben doing his stuff and then I just did the best I could with a 3-2 count.”
After retaking the lead in the top of the seventh, Reed and the Ardmore defense made sure they didn’t lose it again in a three-up-three-down inning. It was Reed’s 14th inning in the series, which was delayed twice due to rain causing the final game in the series to be pushed back until Tuesday.
It was a fitting end to what had been a tense third round playoff series for Ardmore. The Tigers were denied a chance to come back Friday night in game two. Trailing 3-1 in the top of the seventh, Alexandria was awarded a win after the game was called off because of heavy rain.
Tuesday’s win was the second time for Ardmore to earn a come from behind win during the playoffs. They previously rallied Against Madison County in the second round to win the opening game 5-4 in extra innings.
“That seventh inning the past few weeks has been where they’ve stepped up,” Ardmore head coach Andrew Smith said. “They’ve been down, but they’re not out. They’ve had some great at bats in the seventh inning. Our guys just kept battling back until the very end.”
After swapping runs in the opening inning Tuesday, Hargrove gave his team a 2-1 lead in the second inning with a solo shot to center field. The visitors tied the game once again in the bottom of the second before taking the lead in the fifth.
With two outs, Logan Doss hit a short chopper to Reed, who slipped on the rain-soaked field and allowed Cole Burgess to score from third. Reed more than made up for the error by striking out three batters over the next two innings. The junior finished with eight strikeouts in a complete game.
“We knew we had to win this game before anything else,” said Reed. “I was tired, pitching on three days rest. Coming off a 121-pitch game and having just a few days rest, I haven’t done that all year. It’s pretty rough.”
Ardmore (24-8) advanced to play at No. 3 ranked Brooks (43-9) Friday, beginning at 11 a.m. Because Reed pitched a complete game Tuesday, AHSAA rules stipulate he can’t pitch again until Saturday.
“It was a one game season today,” said Smith. “We had to win today or we go home. Our other two guys will throw Friday and we feel comfortable with them. They’ve won a bunch of games for us this year.”