State Baseball: Class 3A
Verdigris tops Vian for third consecutive baseball crown
EDMOND - With the game still in doubt, Verdigris coach Brian Keith made a gamble and showed faith in a kid who's had four hits all season.
The gamble paid off in a golden kind of way.
Nine-hole hitter Reece Phillips delivered a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the fourth inning to give Verdigris a 2-1 lead over Vian in the 3A championship game.
The top-ranked Cardinals rode that momentum Saturday afternoon to a 7-1 victory and third third consecutive title at Edmond Santa Fe High School.
Verdigris won its fourth title overall as this trio of championships joins the initial crown in 2002.
Phillips deserves his credit.
Riley Keizor was hit by a pitch with one out in the fourth, bringing the Cardinals' eight-hole hitter Peyton Battenfield to the plate.
Keith wanted to take out the chance of a double play and also didn't want to risk starting the next inning at the bottom of the order.
"So I said I'm going to bunt it and bring my nine-hole up and see if he can drive in a run," Keith said.
Phillips had a good at-bat in his initial appearance in the second, but had struggled throughout his sophomore season.
"I've stayed with him because he is a sophomore and he's got some ability," Keith said.
Reece rewarded him with the go-ahead hit.
"It worked, perfectly," Keith said. "I looked like a genius."
The Cardinals grabbed two more runs in the fifth, eventually chasing Vian starter Rowdy Simon. They got three more insurance run in the sixth, including a two-run double by Kale Keith.
That was more than enough for the duo of J.W. Owens and Blake Battenfield.
Owens pitched the first four innings, gave up three hits and one run.
Battenfield, who's signed with Oklahoma State, pitched three scoreless innings for the save.
"The plan going in was to get through four (innings with Owens)," Keith said. "If we get through four, we bring Blake in."
Battenfield pitched the quarterfinals and championship games as a sophomore during the Cardinals' 2011 title run.
He delivered a 15-strikeout gem Thursday in his team's 3-0 win over Oklahoma Christian.
With Battenfield having a chance at being drafted in this year's MLB Draft, Keith was going to risk his right-hander's future by asking him to go another complete game.
After Owens got through four innings, Keith was still contemplating whether or not to call on Battenfield.
"He told me, 'Coach, I want it.'"
Not only did he deliver on the mound, but the plate as well as he went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored.
"He's been a mainstay for us for three years now," Keith said. "He's the best I've been around and I've had some good ones.
"I'm going to miss the heck out of that kid."
While Verdigris had five doubles in the game, the Cardinals won it with the "small ball" approach.
Verdigris had six sacrifice flies, sacrifice bunts or bunts in which the runners moved over.
Tanner Smith had two sacrifice bunts and drove in a run in the sixth with one of them. Ran Skalnik had an RBI sacrifice fly in the third inning. Peyton Battenfield had the sacrifice bunt that led to the go-ahead run in the fourth.
"We live and die by the short game," Keith said. "Early on, I was about to pull my hair out because we weren't executing the short game."
That improved as the year progressed and culminated in the title game.
"That's what makes us go," Keith said. "It's been our trademark since I've been here."
Vian had the ability to score runs in bunches as the second-ranked Wolverines had 17 runs in the first two games at state.
Owens and Battenfield limited them to six hits.
"I was scared to death coming in," Keith said. "If we didn't pitch and locate it and stay in the bottom half of the zone, we were going to struggle today."
Owens struck out three and walked two. Battenfield added two more strikeouts and didn't walk a batter.
The result was another championship trophy.
"This run hasn't soaked in yet," Keith said afterward, just minutes after he'd been doused by a cooler full of ice-cold water. "I think by tomorrow I'm going to realize we've three-peated this thing, which is a tough this to do, especially in this game."
Vian (34-3) 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 - 1 6 2
Verdigris (33-2) 0 0 1 1 1 2 3 - 7 7 1
Rowdy Simon, Brett Hooper (5) and Dan Weer. J.W. Owens, Blake Battenfield (5) and Riley Keizor. WP - Owens; LP - Simon; S - Battenfield. 2B: Vian: Rowdy Simon (2), Dalton Morris; Verdigris - Blake Battenfield (2), Riley Keizor, Reece Phillips, Kale Keith.
Verdigris 10, Spiro 3
Last year’s meeting between these two went right down to the wire with Verdigris squeezing out a 1-0 win en route to a second straight state championship.
This one wasn’t in doubt quite as long as the state’s top-ranked team scored nine unanswered runs to close the contest, erasing a 3-1 Spiro lead through four stanzas. The Bulldogs proved to be their own worst enemy through most of the decisive fifth inning with three walks, two errors and two wild pitches.
Meanwhile outside of the third stanza when Spiro strung together four hits for three runs, Verdigris starting hurler Mitch Hammack was in command. He allowed only two singles after the third and yielded eight for the game while walking a pair.
Verdigris struck first in the contest on a Kale Keith RBI single in the first before Spiro countered by plating three in the third. Hunter Wilson started things with a single and Colby Demato, Colton Harper and Justin Wasson also chipped in hits for the Bulldogs. Demato and Gamble joined Paden Dunn with a RBI apiece.
That’s how it remained until the fifth when Blake Battenfield reached innocently enough on a one-out error. Tanner Smith, Ryan Skalnik, Keith and Hammack all followed with singles to chase Spiro starter Quaylon Griffith. Keith’s hit drove in two. In total the Cardinals sent 11 batters to the plate on the way to seven runs.
Keith had his third hit of the contest and drove in another during a two-run sixth that finished off the scoring.
Vian 8, Marlow 7
Back-to-back doubles from Rylee Simon and Dan Weer to start the bottom of the seventh broke a 7-7 deadlock and gave Vian the dramatic victory.
The Wolverines looked like they might run away with the contest after sprinting out to a 5-0 first inning lead fueled by a three-run double by Rowdy Simon and singles from Landon Decker and Jon Andrews but the Outlaws refused to fold.
Marlow cashed in a pair of Vian errors for two runs in the second, added another on a RBI single from Tyler Brite in the third and eventually tied it at 6-6 after three Wolverine errors in the fifth along with Kelby Richardson’s triple and a double by Seth Scarbrough.
Vian surged back in front in the bottom of the stanza on a two-out RBI single by Denver Coffee before Marlow manufactured a rally in the sixth. Pinch hitter Brady Melton worked a two-out walk and came all the way around on singles from Richardson and Scarbrough. The Outlaws had another chance in the seventh following Brite’s leadoff hit and a Vian error but the Wolverines got out of the jam with a double play.
That set the stage for the Simon and Weer heroics.
Vian’s Shawn Troutman and Marlow’s Trey Coffman each went the distance on the mound working into and out of several tight spots. Troutman scattered eight hits while Coffman allowed just seven.
Coffee notched two hits to pace Vian while Richardson and Scarbrough each accounted for three in the Outlaw attack.
Verdigris 3, Oklahoma Christian 0 - Blake Battenfield has been considered one of the top pitchers in the state the past couple of seasons and showed exactly why on Thursday with a dominant mound performance. The ace righthander struck out 15 and yielded up two hits in dispatching surprising Oklahoma Christian. After a leadoff single by Callen Crockett, Battenfield sat the Saints down in order until another single in the sixth. That gave the Cardinal bats plenty of time to solve OCS starter Austin Brooks. Verdigris worked a bases loaded walk in the fourth inning for the initial run of the game and then picked up a two-run homer from Ryan Skalnik in the fifth.
Vian 9, Stroud 6 - Vian cashed in six runs in the first inning to take control but then had to hold off a late Stroud charge to advance. The Tigers scored four runs on four hits in the seventh before Brett Hooper had to come in for relief of Vian starter Jon Anderews. Hooper finally got the final out with the tying run at the plate. Andrews picked up the pitching win with six and two-third solid innings, scattering 11 hits with eight strikeouts. Vian, which has now won 17 in a row, made the most of seven hits led by Landon Decker, who totaled a pair including a solo home run to start the contest.
Spiro 5, Salina 2 - Freshman Paden Dunn tossed four solid frames and Quaylon Griffith picked up the save with three stanzas as well. Dunn was a bit erratic with three walks and just one strikeout but allowed just four hits. Josh Woolly led the offensive charge for the Bulldogs with three hits and two RBI while Colby DeMato and Jason Hickman added two apiece.
Marlow 9, Kingston 7 - After two innings it appeared as if Marlow might make short work of the final first round contest of the day, building a 7-0 lead. It took most everything the Outlaws had left in the tank however to hold off a furious Kingston comeback. Beau Meshell was the pitching stalwart, slamming the door on the Redskins in the third inning en route to four and two-third frames of relief in which he allowed one run on one hit and struck out eight. Anthony Green and Austin Forsythe had RBI singles in the first and Forsythe also contributed a critical three-run double in the third inning. Kingston erupted for six of its tallies in the third frame keyed by a two RBI double from Paden Hayes and run-scoring hits by Jake Patterson and Jared Hayes.
article updated on 05/12/13 02:45