April 24, 2014

Verden takes district with run-rule wins

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


With two tournament wins in the past few weeks under their belts, Verden baseball extended that to three with a pair of overwhelming wins in district over Temple.

The Tigers, who hosted the best two out of three series Thursday, stormed through to regionals after a shaky start to game one. Both were run-rule wins, with Alex Whitlow hitting a home run in each game to spark the offensive surge.

"After we started making a couple of plays, working as a team, we all got the sticks going," Whitlow said. "I started to feel more comfortable at the plate, and I just let it flow. I'm glad, because we can't let teams jump up on us like that."

Verden had a hole to climb out of early. A slow defensive start gave way to two runs after a leadoff triple from pitcher Marco Laguna. Dalton Dennison hit him across before Johnny Holdan crossed home on a wild pitch.

One run was all the Tigers could muster for a first inning response, and soon they found themselves down by four. Another leadoff triple, this time from Terrence Tisdale who later crossed home to start a three-run rally. Brock Calfy’s two-RBI single in the second took Temple to a 5-1 lead. Verden cut it to three in the bottom half of the inning.

Temple was held to a three up, three down in the third, when Verden struck back for good. Chris Patterson reached first on a dropped third strike, but he wasn’t there for long. Pitcher Alex Whitlow made amends for the five runs in the first two innings with a home run over the right field fence to take the deficit to just one. 

After that, hitting seemed to come much easier. Still in the bottom of the third, Hunter Morgan’s RBI single tied the game.

A nasty side effect for Temple is this brought out aggressive base running from Verden, and that led directly to the game’s only lead change. Ben Verser and Hunter Morgan caused confusion with a double steal of second and third. Morgan's run began a bit later, so when the unsuccessful throw was made, Verder sped across home for the 6-5 lead.

From there, the Tigers cake walked into a win.  An RBI-single from Colten Hargrove, who finished the night 2-for-3 with a run, brought in Whitlow for his second run of the night. Benny Crowder did fine work from the eight-spot, going 2-for-2 with a walk, two runs, and two RBI.

Dusty Keil stepped onto the mound for the second game of the night, a win that was much more straight forward for Verden. No doubt his nine strikeouts had something to do with that.

There was also Whitlow's second home run of the afternoon, a shot over the left field fence this time which brought around Patterson, who had tripled just ahead of him. 

Leadoff Tryston Morgan was also on his game the second time around, hitting 3-for-4 from the plate with two runs and two RBI.

"I think it'll build a lot of confidence, especially since this is our third tournament win in district, and going into regionals," Whitlow said. "As long as we keep on this winning streak, we should be good."

Verden will learn their regional opponents next week.