BASEBALL: Verdigris fights to keep season alive after setback

Apr. 26—Despite an unexpected stumble in the opening game of its home regional Thursday afternoon, Verdigris baseball's season remains alive.

The Cardinals were sent to the losers bracket of Class 4A Regional 13 after suffering a 13-3 loss to Mannford, and things looked dire against Poteau as well until an unprecedented offensive explosion late in the game secured a 16-4 victory.

They must now defeat Mannford twice on Friday to advance to super regionals next week.


The game kicked off with Mannford swiftly seizing control in the initial inning when Hunter Howard's double brought in a pair of runs, while a single from Cooper Ausbern added another score.

The Pirates continued their dominance in the following inning, extending their lead even further. An Ethan McDonald single brought in a run, and a monumental home run to left field from Max Bushyhead plated three more.

McDonald also served as Mannford's pitcher, surrendering eight hits and three runs through four innings while striking out three batters and walking five.

On the opposing side, Boston Acosta of Verdigris took the loss after pitching 4.1 innings. Acosta struggled against Pirates' offensive onslaught, allowing 11 runs on 16 hits with four walks despite striking out eight batters.

Although not reflected on the scoreboard, the Cardinals did put up a valiant effort offensively with 11 hits as Landon Wine, Mac West, Ethan Hushbeck and Jaxon Smith each contributed two hits to the team's overall performance.

Wine, Grant Hastings and Wes McClanahan managed to drive in one run apiece, while Hushbeck's keen eye at the plate led to two walks. In fact, Verdigris collectively drew seven walks during the game.

Mannford displayed an impressive offense itself, amassing 19 hits.

Bushyhead emerged as a key player in the lineup, driving in five runs and delivering a flawless 3-for-3 performance at the plate. Hunter Howard also shined, going a perfect 4-for-4 and leading the Pirates in hits, while Cooper Ausbern, McDonald and Colten Wofford also finished with multiple hits.

Notably, both teams turned a double play on defense.


Verdigris embarked on a stunning eighth-inning rally, scoring 12 runs on six hits to break a 4-all tie.

The pivotal moment came when West stepped up to the plate and delivered a crucial double, driving in three runs. West's impact was felt throughout the game, for he collected three hits in five at-bats, including a lead-off single that ignited the Cardinals' offensive explosion in the eighth.

His double in the sixth inning also proved instrumental in keeping Verdigris in contention.

However, it was West's run in the eighth that ultimately sealed the victory for Verdigris when he scored on a bases-loaded walk, giving the Cardinals a 5-4 lead.

This was just one of the four bases-loaded walks that Verdigris earned during their monumental scoring spree.

The Cardinals' Barrett Marlow and Acosta contributed to the offensive onslaught with RBI singles, while two wild pitches and a passed ball accounted for the remaining runs in the inning.

Verdigris showcased its offensive firepower in the elimination game, finishing with 15 hits. Alongside West and Marlow, players such as Wine, Acosta, Hastings and McClanahan also made significant contributions with multiple hits for the Cardinals.

On the pitching front, Luke Patterson struck out 11 batters, conceding six hits and four runs through eight innings while walking just one. His mastery on the mound set the stage for their dramatic comeback.

Verdigris struck first in the second inning when Hushbeck singled, driving in a run. However, Poteau responded strongly in the bottom of the sixth, taking the lead with an Aiden Sockey double that brought in two runs.

An error and a double from Pierce Ballard added further runs for the Pirates, putting them in a favorable position.

The Cardinals fought back in the top of the seventh, though, with a clutch single from Acosta tying the game at four runs apiece. This set the stage for their explosive eighth-inning rally, demonstrating the Cardinals' resilience and determination.