Roff — Just how tough is the 20th Annual Roff Invitational baseball tournament? The defending Class A State champion and the runner-up were paired against each other in the first round.
But this time, the two teams swapped spots.
Host Roff — the current No. 1 team in Class A — got strong pitching and just enough offense to slide by Class A No. 2 Rattan 2-0 in the first game of the day Thursday afternoon.
The Tigers advanced to a semifinal showdown at 7 p.m. today — likely against Class 2A No. 2 Dale — while Rattan faced Ripley (a 5-4 loser to Coleman in another first-round game) in an elimination game that wasn’t completed at press time.
“Every time we hook up with Rattan, it’s always fun. I could have probably put us in an easier first-round game, but then everyone would have thought I loaded my tournament for myself,” said Roff head coach Ead Simon. “So I just thought we’d go and see who’s the best right now. That doesn’t mean we’ll be the best in three weeks. We’ve got to keep playing. There’s a lot of baseball left in this season.”
Last June during the much-delayed Class A state championship game, Rattan rallied for a 5-3, eight-inning victory. Fans were treated to another classic this time around.
“I’m excited to see good baseball all weekend, and that was a good way to start it,” Simon said. “It was two pretty evenly matched teams, and little things can make it go one way or the other. I tremendously respect their coach (Michael Clay) as a guy and a baseball guy. He’s one of the people in this business you enjoy playing against and competing against.”
The early barn-burner may have set the tone for the rest of the tournament.