When it comes to the Verdigris High School senior baseball players, it’s all about leadership, winning and being ‘classy’ on the diamond.
On Monday, senior pitcher Blake Battenfield and his senior teammates — J.W. Owens, Ryan Hurd and Tanner Smith — continued their quest toward a third-straight Class 3A state championship with an 8-0 win over Miami on Senior Night at Cardinals Stadium.
The win stretched the Cardinals’ home record to 214-43, while also improved No. 1 Verdigris to 20-2 on the season.
Battenfield — pitching in front of a half-dozen Major League Baseball scouts — held Miami scoreless while giving up three hits with eight strikeouts and one walk in the five-inning complete game performance.
Verdigris erupted for four runs in the bottom half of the first inning to provide the insurance for Battenfield on the mound.
Battenfield got things rolling with a one-out single on the first pitch from Miami starter Nick Allen. A single by Smith advanced Battenfield to second base, and a two-run double by Kale Keith to left field plated Battenfield and Smith to put the Cardinals up 2-0.
Mitch Hammack’s RBI -single to center field drove in Ryan Skalnik, who reached on the bases loaded walk, to make it 3-0. Keith scored the final run in the first inning on Riley Keizor’s RBI-single to the deepest part of the left-side of the infield to extend the Cardinals’ lead to 4-0.
The Cardinals continued their scoring in the bottom of the second with Smith plating Reece Phillips on an RBI-sacrifice fly to right field to make it 5-0; and then Skalnik driving in Ryan Hurd with a sharp single down the third base line to put Verdigris up 6-0.
Battenfield tossed a scoreless third and fourth innings, facing seven batters with four strikeouts and one walk.
Miami loaded the bases in the top half of the fifth inning, while orchestrating two hits off Battenfield. Sam Neal’s leadoff single to right field began the War Dogs’ rally.
Battenfield, however, returned to form to strike out the next two Miami hitters. After a single and a fielding error by Verdigris third baseman (Ryan) Skalnik, Miami closed out the fifth with Cole Young grounding out to Hammack at first base.
The Cardinals secured the run-rule victory in the bottom of the fifth with Peyton Battenfield driving in Hammack on the walk-off single to center field. Keith and Hammack also reached base on singles to start up the fifth.