EDMOND — Verdigris senior Blake Battenfield suffered through the worst batting practice of his season Saturday morning.
But once the game started, that didn't matter as Battenfield went 4 for 4 and then pitched three scoreless relief innings to lift the top-ranked Cardinals past second-ranked Vian 7-1 at Edmond Santa Fe for their third straight Class 3A baseball championship.
“I couldn't tell you, but for some reason I could not hit the ball this morning,” Battenfield said. “I was just thinking to myself, ‘I can't try to do too much. I've got to make contact and make plays.' And I found holes.”
Battenfield, who has signed with Oklahoma State, doubled twice and scored two runs, both of which came in Verdigris' late offensive charge.
His presence on the mound, though, helped seal the victory.
The tall right-hander entered the game in the fifth inning, just after the Cardinals took a 2-1 lead, and struck out two while allowing three hits over the next three innings.
However, Verdigris coach Brian Keith nearly didn't put Battenfield in the game after he struck out 15 in Thursday's quarterfinal win over Oklahoma Christian School.
But the game plan called for it, and Battenfield wanted the ball.
“Started my No. 3 (J.W. Owens) and we had a pretty good game plan going in, and if we execute it we're going to be fine,” Keith said. “The plan was to get through four and we're going to bring Blake in.
“Of course, what he does on the mound is unbelievable. He's been a mainstay for us for three years now and I am going to miss the heck out of that kid.”
The Cardinals (33-2) took the lead in the fourth when sophomore Reece Phillips laced a two-out RBI double to left-center field for just his fifth hit this season.
“I was hoping (Keith) would have the faith in me and I knew he had it all along,” Phillips said. “I'm just glad I came through.”
Verdigris then scored two runs in the fifth and three in the sixth to pull away.
Vian (34-3) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning behind a two-out RBI double by Dalton Morris.
Verdigris immediately tied the game in the third on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Skalnik.
Owens allowed three hits and one earned run over four innings for the win, which gives Verdigris its fourth overall title since 2002.
“Nothing can describe going out with a win,” Battenfield said. “I wouldn't have it any other way.
“I wish I could tell you it doesn't get any better than this, but every single one of them was just as exciting as the last, if not more.”