HASKELL — The Harmony Grove Cardinals’ pitching has been really good and then not so much throughout the 2014 season. Winners of 10 games coming into Monday’s damp tilt with Fountain Lake, the Cardinals strolled away with their chins high and much-needed momentum, winning on a walk-off RBI single from Logan Clay to win 1-0.
“We knew going in that it was going to be a tough game,” Head Coach Brandon Mynhier said. “Fountain Lake is always a good team and tough to play. It was a good game for a full seven innings and it was tough to find a hit all night. We were able to scratch together a run in the final inning and win it.”
Despite being scoreless for nearly the entire game, the biggest standout performance was from starting pitcher Tyler Hamilton. After starting the season well, but throwing a ton of pitches, Hamilton has been knocked around a bit lately. On Monday, the junior through his best game ever in a Cardinals’ uniform – a no-hitter.
“His performance was the best he has thrown all season,” Mynhier said. “He struggled near the middle of the season, but yesterday he had command of all of his pitches from pitch one all the way through and never let up. It was masterful to watch what he was doing out there. He was untouchable.”
Just four balls and two errors away from perfection, Hamilton stymied the Cobras all day, to the tune of no hits, no runs, one walk and six strikeouts. Harmony Grove committed two errors behind Hamilton, but luckily, it didn’t lead to anything for Fountain Lake.
Fountain Lake put a runner on first in the opening frame on a one-out error. After that it was all Hamilton until the sixth inning, sitting down 14 straight Snakes before his defense committed its second error to lead off the sixth inning. A walk and three outs later and Hamilton was three outs away from pitcher glory. With emotions running high as he took the hill in a nothing-nothing contest in the top of the seventh. The young, tall right-hander stood proud and pitched a perfect final frame, striking out one and getting the other two on a line out and a grounder.
“I didn’t say anything to him before the inning,” Mynhier said. “I just let him go out there and continue to handle his business and he did.”
But the game was still scoreless with Harmony Grove coming to the dish. Needing just a run to seal the no-hitter for Hamilton, the Cardinals picked up the bats and headed for the dish.
Jordan Allred led off for Harmony Grove, reaching on an error before taking second base on a sacrifice bunt from Brinson Cornwell the next at bat. Cornwell beat the errant throw to put two on with none out.
Sure-handed catcher Zach Caplinger stepped to the dish looking for the RBI but lined out instead. Now with two on and an out, Cody Icenhower loaded the bases after reaching on an intentional walk, bringing Harmony Grove’s biggest bat the to the plate in Logan Clay.
After letting the first pitch go by for a strike, Clay jumped on the second offering, depositing it in centerfield for a game-winning RBI single to score Allred for the win and secure the no-no for Hamilton.
“(Clay’s performance) has just been huge all year,” Mynhier said. “He has been hitting missiles all year and struggled yesterday popping the ball up. They walked Icenhower and we were right where we wanted to be. He rocketed the pitch into centerfield and it was ballgame immediately. Just what we needed.”
Harmony Grove scattered seven hits in the game with Jordan Jones and Icenhower leading with 2-for-3 nights. Clay, Landen Lewis and Colby Byrd rounded out the rest of the Cardinals’ hits, each tallying one.
Hamilton used just 79 pitches to complete the no-hitter, throwing 62 for strikes in the win. The gunslinger started 20 batters out with first-pitch strikes. Dealing all night, Hamilton’s performance moves Harmony Grove to 11-6 overall on the year and puts the club a game above .500 at 4-3 at the end of 5-3A conference play. Harmony Grove ended the conference schedule winning 4 of 5.
“We didn’t quite do as well as we had hoped starting off, but we finished strong at the end and hope to keep it going into the district tournament next week,” Mynhier said.
The Cardinals still have three games left on the schedule with Hermitage up first on Thursday at Landers.com Stadium in Haskell.