Verdigris

EDMOND — Brian Keith knew what was coming and even tried to prevent it.

But it was Kingfisher, not Keith’s Verdigris Cardinals, that executed late to pull out a 5-3 victory Friday in their Class 4A quarterfinal matchup at Edmond North High School.

“It was the little things,” Keith said, when discussing the difference in the game. “We didn’t execute them at times.”

Still fresh on his mind was the decisive play when Kingfisher’s Cole Crosswhite laid down a sacrifice bunt with the game tied and bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Although Cardinals pitcher Austin Woods was able to throw out Crosswhite at first, two Kingfisher runs scored on the play.

“We had a pitchout called, but didn’t get it,” Keith said. “And they scored two runs. Those little things were the difference, especially late.”

Verdigris used its own version of small ball to tie the game at 3-all in the top-half of the sixth.

After Tyler Haddock drew a leadoff walk, he advanced to third on first baseman Will Taylor’s throwing error after a Jaren Keith bunt.

The Cardinals offered up two more sacrifice bunts in the inning, but Haddock didn’t score until the second one, which came off the bat of Toby Willis.

The tie game didn’t last long.

Kingfisher’s Cade Stephenson dropped a single in shallow centerfield between a trio of converging Cardinals to start the bottom of the frame.

Tate Taylor walked and Zach Goodwin came up with his third hit of the game to load the bases for Crosswhite, who pushed his bunt between the mound and first base.

Stephenson crossed home first and was followed closely by Tate Taylor.

Verdigris challenged Taylor’s run, suggesting he didn’t touch third base.

“I did,” Taylor vowed afterward. “I just got a really good lead and jump on the play.”

Verdigris still wasn’t without hope.

Sloan Roller coaxed one of seven Verdigris walks against Kingfisher ace Ian Daugherty in the seventh. He advanced when Brent Olson reached on a two-out error by Crosswhite.

Daugherty hit his 120-pitch limit against Haddock, but the junior’s grounder was scooped up by Crosswhite for the force at second to end the game.

The Verdigris roster is almost exclusively filled with underclassmen, much more so than the previous nine Cardinals teams that reached state.

“We knew coming into this year that it was going to be a challenge just to get here,” Keith said. “But we made some great strides during the season.”

Among the underclassmen is Olson, who had two of the Cardinals’ four hits.

One was in the third when a perfect bunt with the bases loaded stayed fair to give his team a 2-0 lead. The bunt pushed across Woods, who earlier slapped an RBI single to left field.

The Yellowjackets tied the game in the bottom of the third after Goodwin got his second hit of the contest, an RBI single, and later scored on a passed ball.

Both of those runs came off Jackson Thies.

Colton Anderson started the game and delivered two innings of one-hit ball for Verdigris.

Thies gave up two runs and two hits in the third.

Woods finished the game with three innings of work. He surrendered four hits and three earned runs. Combined, the trio struck out three and walked five.

Kingfisher got its first lead in the fifth when Crosswhite legged out an infield single, stole second and crossed home on Daugherty’s RBI single.

Kingfisher stole nine bases and four of those steals led to runs.

Daugherty struck out seven while giving up the second most runs in a start this year. The Oklahoma State University commit threw a season-high 122 pitches.

The win was the first for Kingfisher in a state baseball tournament as the Yellowjackets improved to 33-7 and advanced to play Blanchard Tuesday in the semifinals.

Verdigris saw its season end at 31-5.

“We got better, but we struggled all year with the little things and that’s what this game is about,” Keith said. “Our youth and inexperience just caught up to us today.”