Standing in the spotlight Monday afternoon, Verdigris senior right-handed pitcher Blake Battenfield delivered his best outing of the season in front of a half-dozen Major League Baseball scouts at Cardinals Baseball Complex.
Battenfield tallied nine strikeouts with no walks and two hits allowed in a five-inning duel with Dewey’s Carson Larue.
Battenfield vs. Larue proved to be worth the price of admission as the Verdigris hurler led the Class 3A No. 1-ranked Cardinals to a 1-0 win over the Class 4A No. 13 Bulldoggers in Will Rogers Conference action.
With Oklahoma State University assistant coach Marty Lees in the stands behind home plate, along with profession baseball scouts from the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins, Battenfield flourished under the pressure.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound right-hander topped the radar guy at 88 miles-per-hour on his fastball and mid-70s on his curveball and slider.
In the top half of the first inning, Battenfield gave Lees and the scouts a glimpse of what the future could hold, mixing his high-octane fastball with his tenacious slider to overpower the Dewey lineup.
Battenfield struck out two of the first three batters he faced and got the last out in the first on a groundout to Verdigris first baseman Mitch Hammack.
Larue, meanwhile, got off to a sluggish start in the first with back-to-back walks following a flyout by Ryan Hurd.
The Dewey right-handed hurler, however, regained his composure and ran his 89 mile-per-hour fastball past the Cardinal hitters to end the inning.
Battenfield, who retired the first five hitters he faced, gave up a standup single to Larue in the top of the second on an 85 mile-per-hour fastball over the inside part of the plate.
With two outs, though, Battenfield stunned Trevor Hudgens on a 75 mile-per-hour curveball to cap the inning.
Larue answered Battenfield’s performance in the bottom half of the second, going three-up, three-down with two strikeouts and a single to right field by Battenfield.
The inning ended on Battenfield’s steal attempt to second base that resulted in a 2-6 putout.
Coming out in the third, Battenfield continued to punch the radar guy with his fastball staying in the 87 mile-per-hour range.
The Cardinals’ senior captain increased his strikeout total through three innings to six while holding Dewey’s lineup to one hit.
After Larue opened the bottom half of the third with back-to-back walks to Reese Phillips and Hurd, Kale Keith’s one-out single to left field loaded the bases for Verdigris third baseman Ryan Skalnik.
Larue started Skalnik off with a slider for a strike. On the next pitch, Skalnik plated Phillips on the sacrifice groundout to Dewey second baseman Jesse Murguria to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
Battenfield allowed his second hit of the game in the top half of the fourth, as Lane Donaho laced a 3-2 fastball to center field for a two-out single.
Battenfield, who was relieved by Hammack in the sixth inning, earned his second win of the season and improved the Cardinals to 14-1 on the season.
Larue suffered his first loss of the year after tossing five innings with seven strikeouts, four walks, two hits and one unearned run.