EDMOND — Verdigris ace pitcher Blake Battenfield cruised into the top of the seventh inning Thursday afternoon, his team holding a comfortable lead in its Class 3A quarterfinal with Oklahoma Christian School.
Battenfield struck out the first batter, then watched his normally ironclad defense commit consecutive errors, putting Saints runners on first and third.
But the senior remained cool, recorded his 14th and 15th strikeouts of the day and finished off a complete-game, two-hit performance in Verdigris' 3-0 win at Deer Creek's John Hundley Field.
“I've been there before,” Battenfield said. “I knew we were up, and that we don't make errors often.”
Verdigris, seeking its third straight Class 3A baseball title, advances to Friday's 11 a.m. semifinal at Edmond Santa Fe High School, where the Cardinals will meet either Salina or Spiro, who played later Thursday.
Oklahoma Christian leadoff hitter Callen Crockett opened Thursday's game with a single, but Battenfield didn't allow another Saints base runner until the bottom of the sixth.
Battenfield (7-0) said his 15 strikeouts Thursday were a career high.
“Blake's unbelievable,” said Verdigris coach Brian Keith. “He's been a mainstay for us the past four years. He's one of the best pitchers I've had since I've been here.
“Tomorrow we'll run our two and three out there, and see if we can get him back on Saturday.”
Verdigris and OCS were scoreless through three-and-a-half innings, but the Cardinals scored their first run in the bottom of the fourth when designated hitter Peyton Battenfield drew a bases-loaded walk.
Then in the fifth, Verdigris junior Ryan Skalnik blasted a two-run home run over the left-field fence.
OCS senior Austin Brooks pitched the whole game Thursday in the Saints' first baseball state tournament appearance.
Brooks, who quarterbacked the OCS football team to a state title last fall, said he plans to walk on to Oklahoma State's baseball team.
“God's still on the throne; I'll tell you that right now,” said OCS coach Ken McQueen. “There's joy in every one of these kids' hearts.”