VERDIGRIS – Verdigris entered the game winners of 16 straight while Vinita had lost eight in a row. The outcome should have been obvious, but the District 4A-5 battle did not start as expected.
The Hornets opened a 1-0 lead in the first inning and held the Cardinals to three hits going into the third. Then, Vinita’s pitching dissolved and Verdigris sent 17 batters to the plate, scoring 12 runs en route to a 17-1 five-inning victory. The red hot Cards improved to 21-1 overall and 11-0 in league play.
“It was a slow start,’’ confirmed Verdigris coach Brian Keith. “Our pitcher was not as sharp early on as normal.’’
Junior lefthander Colton Anderson allowed Vinita six hits in the first three innings, then settled down to permit just one more, finishing with four strikeouts and one base on balls. Verdigris worked over Hornets starter Dillon Campbell and reliever Jayden Goins for 10 hits and 10 walks. The Cards also stole seven bases.
Left fielder Sloan Roller and second baseman Jade Keith each slapped a pair of hits for the home team with eight of nine batters in the lineup getting hits.
“We’ve been consistent offensively,’’ said Keith. “This is one of the best offensive teams I’ve had since I’ve been here. The biggest thing with these guys is our pitching commitment.
“I am a little optimistic right now. We’re getting better on the mound and pretty good at the plate. We’ve just got to maintain it.’’
Keith has adjusted the top of his batting order the last few weeks, moving junior Brent Olson to the lead off position. Olson drove home a run against Vinita while drawing two walks.
The Cardinals opened a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning, using one hit and three free passes from Campbell. Olson tied the game by scoring on a bases full walk, then Ty Moore slammed a bags loaded double, driving in three more runs.
It was quantity over quality as Verdigris erupted for five hits in the 12-run third inning. Designated hitter Tyler Haddock opened the onslaught by sending a bloop hit into centerfield, scoring first baseman Austin Woods to make it 5-1.
Junior Austin Neal continued the spree, scoring on a sacrifice fly before Olson knocked a base hit to right centerfield, accounting for Moore. Roller then greeted reliever Goins with a shot to center, scoring Haddock and Olson.
Woods came up for the second time in the inning and laced a double to right center, driving around Toby Willis and Roller for an 11-1 lead. Woods scored again thanks to a Hornet throwing error, pinch runner Riley Pearce touched home on a bases loaded hit by pitch and Keith singled and also used a Vinita error to score Neal, Moore and Haddock for the 16-1 margin.
Senior catcher Tristan Hilton’s double plated Roller with the Cardinals’ final run in the fourth.