May 1, 2014

Tigers maul Varnum, fall in regional semis

Adam Troxtell, Sports Editor,
The Express-Star


Varnum appeared more than a few steps behind Verden, instead of ahead as they are in the Class B rankings, during the Tigers' 12-2 win in the opening of regional play.

Five runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth sealed the run rule win, which saw Verden through to the regional semifinals on Thursday. It was in response to an early 2-0 lead Varnum took in the opening inning, but even that was quickly erased as the Tigers storm forward in the playoffs.

Tryston Morgan spent all five innings on the mound, letting up just two hits that both came in the first inning. Leadoff Trevor Smith's single was followed by Tyler Miller's 

RBI double to left center. Miller later crossed home plate on a wild pitch.

After that, the Tigers shut Varnum down, helped in part by the momentum from a quick offensive response. A two run home run from Alex Whitlow immediately tied the game in the bottom of the first.

Soon Verden had the lead. Hunter Morgan started off an afternoon that saw him go 2-for-3 from the plate with a strange RBI single. His shot went through third and short before slipping by the left fielder, plating Ben Verser for a 3-2 advantage.

His leadoff single in the fourth sparked the run rally from Verden that put the game out of Varnum's hands. Benny Crowder brought him around before Tryston Morgan brought in another with a shot down the left field line. 

Chris Patterson led everyone from the plate, going 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBI. He brought in two runs with a single to follow up Tryston Morgan's effort to help Verden go up by six.

Since that opening inning, nothing went Varnum's way, and it went from bad to worse in the fourth. Desperate for runs with a man on first, Smith was hit in the chest by Morgan's pitch, which looked to give Miller a two-on, two-out situation.

That all went out the window with the umpire's convened and decided Smith had swung in the process of being hit and called it a strike. He flied out to second for the final out of the inning, much to his and the Varnum coaches' displeasure.

Down by nine, they decided to walk Verden's Colten Hargrove, whose RBI single ended the fourth inning rally. That left the bases loaded with two outs, and Verser obliged with a shot between third and short to score Patterson and end the game. 

The Tigers lost 6-3 in the regional semifinal, meaning they play today at 2 p.m.