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April 10, 2014

Tigers come back to advance to Grady County semis

AMBER —

Verden has become accustomed to winning at this year's Grady County Tournament hosts Amber.

Three wins at that exact field in last week's Panther Classic was followed up by a 5-2 come from behind victory against Ninnekah on Thursday. The Owls made it difficult for them, coming back from an early run to take the lead.

But the Tigers' lineup continued a trend of taking charge when necessary. Three runs followed a leadoff single from Chris Patterson in the bottom of the third. One more in the fourth sealed it, as Ninnekah couldn't find the hits they had relied on to give them a lead early on.

After Tryston Morgan crossed home from an RBI-single by Colten Grove, the Owls struck back. Aaron Buckmaster's single brought in Blake Daggs to cancel out the early run and create a worrying scenario for Verden.

If they were bothered, it didn't show much after the fourth. Ben Verser tied the game up again with an RBI on a fielders' choice, bringing in Patterson who had reached on a single and advanced with a stolen base.

Alex Whitlow was walked and came across home off Dusty Keil's hit. With the throw on its way, Whitlow gambled to touch home. He was forced to dive head first, and while he beat the throw, the force of hitting the ground and catcher Cody Chaney took its toll. He received some treatment on his left shoulder in the dugout, but he showed his good health the following inning.

Ninnekah had the perfect chance to strike in the top of the fourth after Aaron Buckmaster's single and a Cody Reed double to put runners on third and second with two outs.

Up stepped Nolan Miller, who had doubled both times at bat so far. Verden had just replaced starter Benny Crowder with Whitlow, who struck out Miller looking to get a crucial third out. All in all, five Owl base runners were left stranded as Verden guarded their lead.

Whitlow was again at the center of it all with an RBI-double in the bottom of the fourth to put Verden up by three. Momentum never returned to Ninnekah, who will face the winner of Thursday's late game between Amber-Pocasset and Dibble on Friday. Verden plays the winner.

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