Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

May 18, 2014

Verdigris beats Vian, plays for fourth-straight 3A title

EDMOND — The Verdigris Cardinals gutted it out Friday afternoon in the Class 3A state semifinals at Edmond Memorial High School.

Behind timely sixth-inning singles from Kale Keith and Brady Smith, the Cardinals rallied past 2013 3A state runner-up Vian, 8-3 to advance to the state championship Saturday afternoon at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

The Cardinals led 1-0 in the top of the second inning, but Vian responded with a pair of runs off Verdigris starting pitcher Peyton Battenfield to overtake the 2-1 lead.

Then, in the bottom of the fourth inning, Vian tacked on another run to increase its lead to 3-1.

Verdigris, which has been No. 1 in the 3A rankings all season long, found its backs against the wall with  heading into the top of the fifth inning.

Verdigris narrowed the Vian lead to 3-2 with strong offensive production from junior catcher Riley Keizor, who finished the game going 3-for-5 with two runs scored.

After Battenfield pitched the first four innings, Verdigris head coach Brian Keith went to his son, Kale Keith, in relief to start the bottom half of the fifth inning.

Kale Keith tossed a scoreless fifth inning, setting up another opportunity for the Verdigris offense.

Mitch Hammack’s one-out single plated Smith to tie the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth.

Moments later, Dylan Hight drove in Kale Keith for the go-ahead run after reaching on a error.

With a 4-3 lead to his advantage, Kale Keith dominated on the mound and held Vian scoreless for three innings.

Verdigris exploded with four runs in the top of the seventh thanks to Keizor’s two-run single, Hammack’s RBI-single and Hight’s squeeze bunt with the bases loaded.

Kale Keith earned the win on the mound and improved to 7-1 on the season.

The Cardinals (30-6) faced Kansas (32-4) in the 3A State Finals Saturday in Oklahoma City.

Kansas beat Marlow, 6-1 to reach Saturday’s championship game.

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