VERDIGRIS – Continuing to parlay small ball into big victories, red-hot Verdigris finally broke Bristow’s Legg in the fifth inning and cruised to a 10-2 win in the 4A regional tournament title game Saturday at Cardinal Field.
Verdigris improved to 31-4 with its eighth consecutive victory, qualifying for the state tournament on Thursday at Edmond Santa Fe. The Cardinals won their 10th straight regional crown behind the five-hit pitching of junior Colton Anderson, who fired a complete game with seven strikeouts and one walk.
“This was just another step to where we want to be at the end of the season,’’ said Anderson, who remained in control all the way. “I felt comfortable with my cutter and changeup. I had to make sure I was hitting my spots and my off-speed pitches were where they needed to be.
“I think our bats were a little slow at the beginning, but they were a little faster with the second guy.’’
Levi Legg started on the mound for Bristow (20- 14) before giving way to Matt Floyd in the fifth. Legg allowed four of the Cardinals’ eight hits, but departed after Sloan Roller drove in Austyn Willis, giving Verdigris a 4-1 lead.
“He kept us off balance,’’ VHS coach Brian Keith said of Legg. “He kept changing speeds and we had a hard time early. He had low velocity and kept giving us problems. We finally did enough to win and Colton Anderson pitched a heck of a game.
The low-powered Cardinals’ offense featured two singles each from second baseman Jared Keith and left fielder Roller. Willis slugged the only extra-base hit for Verdigris, a double to lead off the fifth. Floyd and second baseman Ethan Montgomery both rapped a pair of base hits for the Purple Pirates.
Verdigris used the bunt abundantly and stole five bases while maintaining finesse in the place of muscle at the plate.
“Our short game opened it up for us,’’ Keith said. “We live and die by that. We’ve got to get better on the mound, but we’ve made strides in the last four days. We’ve got to outwrestle some teams next week (at the state tournament) because we’ve got a fight on our hands.’’
· A six-run fifth inning gave VHS a 9-1 lead against Bristow and left little doubt about the outcome. Tyler Haddock’s base hit into left field scored two runs, giving the Cards a 6-1 lead. Brent Olson touched up for another run after Legg’s wild pitch, then a three-base error pushed Haddock and Keith across.
· Verdigris added one more run the sixth with the bases full. Ty Moore walked, stole second and finally scored from third after Floyd beaned Olson from the mound.
BRISTOW 8, INOLA 4
INOLA – Rain and a big fifth inning by Bristow helped end Inola’s chances of advancing in Class 4A postseason baseball Friday at Longhorn Field.
The Purple Pirates avenged a 10-run loss to Inola in first round play by winning 8-4 and moved on to a regional championship game against Verdigris.
Originally scheduled for Friday, the title tilt was postponed when heavy rain, along with flashes of lightning, made play impossible.
Bristow rallied from a 4-2 deficit by scoring four runs in the fifth, snapping a 4-4 deadlock. First baseman Shaun Roebuck drew a hit by pitch from Inola reliever Brandon Ross, then moved to second on a bad pickoff throw to first base.
Catcher Cord Dobrinski singled home Roebuck with a base hit to center field, handing the Pirates a 5-4 lead. A bases loaded walk scored third baseman Levi Legg before a double off the bat of Ethan Montgomery drove in both left fielder Jake Lomenick and shortstop Matt Floyd to make it 8-4.
Both teams finished with seven hits, Spurlock stroking a pair for the Longhorns and Dobrinski and Loemick two each for Bristow. Winning pitcher Ty Ralston tossed six complete innings before lightning halted the game with one out in the top of the seventh frame. Ralston fanned three Horns and walked one as the Pirates improved to 20-13. Inola closed the season 22-8.
Bristow defeated Broken Bow 7-4 in an elimination on Thursday night, but got a slow start against the Longhorns. The Pirates did take a 1-0 lead in the first when Ralston’s RBI single scored Roebuck. Inola quickly retaliated in the bottom of the inning.
Starting pitcher Jordan Spurlock singled down the third base line prior to advancing to second on a passed ball. Spurlock dashed home, creating a 1-1 knot, thanks to Devin Wiley’s floating hit into left field. Third baseman Kyle Gerber gave the Horns a 2-1 lead by driving home Wiley on another hit into left.
Bristow again tied the game with one run in the second. Floyd drew a walk from Spurlock and later scored when Cameron Hicks hit into a fielder’s choice. Once more, the Longhorns had an answer in the second.
Logan Reed and Jayden Morgan singled before Spurlock followed with a double to left, scoring both runners and giving the Horns a 4-2 advantage with one out. Spurlock moved to third on a wild pitch, but was left stranded after Matthew Trolinger popped out and Wiley grounded out to third.
The Purple Pirates leveled the game for the third time in the third inning. Spurlock hit both Roebuck and Dobrinski at the plate, bringing in Ross. Roebuck scored on a wild pitch, then Lomencik lifted a ball into shallow center field that fell for a hit, scoring pinch runner Koby Baughman with the tying tally.
After falling behind 8-4 in the fifth inning, Inola got one more chance in the sixth. With one away, designated hitter Cameron Morgan drove a base hit into left field. Gerber next tapped a grounder to Floyd at shortstop who relayed to Montgomery at second who then finished the double play by nailing Gerber at first. Morgan was Inola’s only base runner in the final four innings.