In 23 years of coaching, Verdigris’ Brian Keith witnessed something amazing Thursday night at Cardinal Stadium.
Right-handed pitcher JW Owens tossed his second consecutive perfect game of the season, leading the Class 3A No. 1-ranked Cardinals past Kellyville, 9-0 in the first game of the Cushing Tournament.
Owens held Kellyville to no runs, no hits, no walks, no runners on base and finished with six strikeouts in five complete innings.
His first perfect game came on April 4 in a 10-0 win over Victory Christian.
Riding the impressive performance of Owens, the Cardinals backed up their silky-smooth pitcher with three runs in the top of the second inning.
Kale Keith’s 2-run single to left field and Peyton Battenfield’s RBI-single to right field electrified the Cardinals’ second inning.
One inning later, Blake Battenfield generated two more runs for the Cardinals on a bunt that was misplayed by the Kellyville pitcher, who sailed the throw down the right field line, and allowed Tanner Smith and Mitch Hammack to score while Battenfield advanced to third base.
Ryan Skalnik smashed an RBI-double to deep left-center field to score Battenfield and Reese Phillips provided a sacrifice fly to center field to drive in Skalnik as Verdigris increased their lead to 7-0.
The Cardinals got their final two runs in the top half of the fourth as Ryan Hurd led off with a single and later scored on Smith’s towering RBI-double to the left-field wall.
Smith would, however, race home on the throwing error by the Kellyville catcher to make it 9-0.
Through five innings, Owens mixed in a tenacious fastball with a nasty curveball to tame the Kellyville hitters.
Owens faced 15 hitters on the night with only four balls reaching the outfield.
The Cardinals’ defense — led by the spectacular diving plays of right-fielder Reese Phillips and left-fielder Tanner Smith — proved to be difference-makers in Owens’ chasing another historic moment in his prep career.
The Cardinals improved to 19-2 on the year with the win.