State Baseball: Class 3A
Verdigris repeats with a 6-5 win over Metro Christian
Cody Armbrister did it again.
The senior catcher that put Verdigris in the lead for good with a key double in last year’s championship game, duplicated the feat Saturday as the Cardinals repeated as 3A champs with a nip-and-tuck, 6-5 victory over Metro Christian.
But it was his arm that may have actually saved the day.
Leading 6-5 going into the top of the seventh, Metro’s Solomon Prince shot a leadoff single up the middle. Two pitches later he attempted to get into scoring position by stealing second, but Armbrister gunned him down.
Two groundouts later and Verdigris remained champions.
“[The double] is exactly what I did last year,” said Armbrister afterwards, still wearing his black shin-guards. “But to be able to get the tying run off the bases there, that’s what a catcher lives for.”
Armbrister’s double came in the fifth with the bases loaded and the score tied 3-3. He lined an inside pitch over third base to score a pair. Kale Keith later added a sac-fly to put the Cardinals up 6-3.
The lead looked safe in the sixth when Verdigris turned to ace Blake Battenfield to close the game out. He retired the first two hitters in the frame, but a single and a hit-by-pitch brought hot-hitting Colton Carter to the plate and he delivered a two-run double to tighten things to 6-5.
It made Armbrister’s throw the key play in the seventh.
“That was a big play,” said Verdigris coach Brian Keith. “That was the tying run and it looked like the runner got a good jump. It was a great throw and a great tag.”
Neither team scored in the first three innings. Metro had two threats broken up by double-plays while Verdigris scuffled at the plate its first three times up.
The Cardinals broke through with a pair in the bottom of the fourth. Tanner Smith drove in a run with a two-out single. Kale Keith followed with a line-drive single to center that was misplayed, allowing Smith to score all the way from first base.
Metro answered with three runs in the fifth, taking advantage of Verdigris’ inability to throw strikes, but missed an opportunity for an even bigger inning. The Patriots got its three tallies thanks to a walk and back-to-back wild pitches with the bases loaded. It could have been worse for Verdigris, but relief pitcher J.W. Owens was able to limit the damage with a strikeout and a groundout after the bases were loaded for a second time in the inning.
The Cardinals would never relinquish the lead after Ryan Skalnik bounced a single past the shortstop to tie it 3-3 before Armbrister’s double and Kale Keith’s sac-fly landed the deciding blows in the fifth.
The second straight title is the third overall for Verdigris, which also won the crown back in 2002.
Metro Christian 11, Jones 2
Sixth-ranked Metro Christian got another solid pitching performance to go along with an offensive outburst to bounce top-ranked Jones, 11-2, in a semifinal showdown.
This time it was Colton Carter turning in the pitching gem. He went the distance, holding Jones' lineup to just five hits and two runs while striking out six. Carter evened seemed to get stronger as the game went along, retiring nine of the last 10 hitters he faced.
Meanwhile, the Patriot bats erupted early and often to make life easier on their starting pitcher. Metro strung together five straight hits during a three-run first inning, highlighted by Austin Judd's two-run double. Two more hits, three walks and a hit batsman led to four more runs in the top of the second.
Carter supplied a two-run single in the frame, and all of a sudden he was sitting on a 7-0 lead early.
Carter's only blemish of the day came in the bottom of the second when he walked Andrew Herzer to start the frame before nine-hole hitter Randall Case belted a two-run homer to make it 7-2.
The Patriots never allowed a rally, instead they tacked on to the lead. Mason Mantle singled and scored in the fourth. Three more runs came across in the Metro fifth inning, with Jacob Plett and Connor Drake supplying RBI knocks.
Jones used three pitchers in the contest. Taylor Bilyeu started, but lasted just one and a third innings, allowing seven runs on seven hits and three walks.
Mantle and Connor Drake led the 13-hit Patriot assault. Each went 3-for-4 at the plate with three runs scored. Carter drove in a game-high three runs. Michael Lowe and quarterfinal winner Blake Estep each relieved, but couldn't stop the Patriots from adding on to the lead.
Verdigris 8, Plainview 2
Defending champ and second-ranked Verdigris advanced to the finals again with an 8-2 decision over seventh-ranked Plainview. It did it by taking advantage of errors on a day when the hits weren't always falling.
The Cardinals only tallied three hits through the first five innings, but were able to parlay those into a 5-2 lead with the aid of four Plainview errors during that span. Verdigris then added three runs in the bottom of the sixth to put away any hopes Plainview had for a comeback.
Jordan Keith got the mound win with a complete game effort for the Cardinals. He allowed just four hits and struck out five, and he used his infield well, forcing 11 groundouts on the day.
Keith also accounted for the first Verdigris run of the day, when he singled in the first. Courtesy runner J.W. Owens then advanced to second on a balk and later scored on a Plainview error.
The Cards plated three more in the second inning – a particularly messy inning for Plainview. The Indians committed two errors, another balk and a passed ball the helped lead to the 4-0 deficit. Kale Keith notched the only RBI in the frame on a groundout.
Plainview's first two runners reached in the fourth, but only one came around to score as Jordan Keith coaxed a groundout and a strikeout after a sacrifice bunt. The Indians cut the lead to 4-2 in the top of the fifth when Chase Brooks ledoff with a hit-by-pitch and scored on a sac-fly by Garrett Foster.
Jordan Keith drove in Kale Keith in the fifth with a sac-fly and the Cardinals added three more in the sixth, highlighted by Tanner Smith's two-run double to sail to the finals in search of the team's second straight 3A title and third overall.
Jones 2, Marlow 0
A two-out error in the second inning was all Jones needed to edge past Marlow. With runners on second and third, a hard-hit ball by Chris Humphrey was misfielded by first baseman Wes Coast that allowed both of Jones’ runs to score. It was Marlow’s second error of the inning. Blake Estep picked up the win for the Longhorns, scattering five hits over seven innings while striking out five. Estep retired the final seven batters in order to end the game. Wakely Bergner took the loss, although he didn’t allow and earned run. He posted four strikeouts through six innings and allowed just two hits.
Metro Christian 4, Henryetta 2
Trailing 3-1 going into the bottom of the sixth, Henryetta got a pair of singles from Colt Williams and Hunter Brown, but failed to get a run across. Metro Christain's Evan Lanoue went 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs off five hits while striking out eight. Mason Mantle came on in the seventh with runners at first and second and then mowed down Connor Upshaw on five pitches to pick up the save. Colt Williams was responsible for both of Henryeatta’s runs, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Metro Christain had two men perfect at the plate. Leadoff man Jacob Plett was 3-for-3 with a run scored and a sacrifice fly RBI and teammate Colton Carter went 3-for-3 with a run scored. Metro built its lead with a run in each the second, third and fourth innings.
Plainview 9, Salina 8
Plainview built a five-run lead after the first inning, eventually fell behind by three runs, but used a four-run sixth inning to eventually prevail in a wild back-and-forth affair. The Indians watched their early 5-0 lead start to fall apart as Salina scored two runs in the second and then another in the fourth. The Wildcats stormed to the lead in the top of the sixth inning. Jake Johnson, who was 2-for-4 and drove in two runs, tied the game at 5-5 with a two-run double. Later, Cale Backward pushed a run across with a fielder’s choice and Dillon Gardner gave Salina an 8-5 lead with a bases-loaded walk. Gus Wells got the Indians out of the inning without any further damage. Still, Plainview was in a hole, but the Indians responded with four runs off three hits and a crucial Salina error. Dalton Morales, who was 3-for-4, drove in two runs, including an RBI single in the inning. He tied the game when he scored on James Bowker’s sacrifice fly. Garrett Foster, hitting between those two, also had an RBI single and scored the eventual winning run when Salina first baseman Jake Tolbert mishandled a throw. Campo and Foster had two hits apiece for Plainview. Wells pitched the final 1 1/3 innings of relief, including retiring Salina in order in the seventh, to get the win. Brent Soldier, who entered in the sixth inning with two runners on and a three-run lead, took the loss.
Verdigris 1, Spiro 0
Spiro got more hits than top-ranked Verdigris, but the Bulldogs couldn't get the one that mattered in the shutout loss. Quaylon Griffith gave up just five hits and one run in his six innings of work for the Bulldogs, but couldn't get enough support on the offensive side. The Bulldogs were able to get to Blake Battenfield for seven hits, including three straight in the first inning, but never could turn them into a run. Even when Tyler Didway led off the seventh with a double, the Bulldogs could only get him over to third before Cameron Cole grounded out to shortstop to end the game. Battenfield struck out 11 Bulldogs in the win. He got his lone run of support in the bottom of the sixth. Jordan Keith led off with a single, moved to third on a pair of sacrifices and scored on a two-out single by Ryan Skalnik. Keith and Skalnik had two hits apiece for the Cardinals.
article updated on 05/14/12 01:51