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May 5, 2014

Roff KOs Kiowa for regional crown

Roff —    It didn’t help Kiowa’s cause that top-ranked Roff probably had a little bit of extra motivation heading into their regional championship showdown Friday night at Tiger Field.

   It was the Cowboys who scored with six seconds left in the game to stun Roff 34-32 in a Class A Area consolation championship basketball contest that kept the Tigers out of the state tournament last February.

   Roff (27-7) got a little taste of revenge, but no such dramatics were needed as the Tigers pounced on the Cowboys 18-1 to keep Kiowa away from this week’s Class A State Tournament, set to begin Thursday at Dolese Park in Oklahoma City. Times and pairings are expected to be released on Monday.

   The Cowboys (15-12) had advanced to the title game by scoring three late runs to edge No. 19 Vanoss 7-4 in an earlier elimination game.

   When asked if he thought his players had flashbacks to that tough basketball loss to Kiowa, Roff head baseball coach Ead Simon said he didn’t know if that played a factor or not. He didn’t ask.

   “I’m not sure, but you always wonder that. I didn’t even hardly talk to them this week. They seemed like they had themselves ready to play starting Thursday. I just tried to stay out of the way. I didn’t say anything to them before the game. I’m not going to say a whole lot to them after,” he said.

   Roff’s performance spoke loud and clear. The Tigers hit home runs in each of the first three innings and buried Kiowa early.

   RHS starter Mike Anderson surrendered a solo home run to Kiowa slugger Brice Smith after striking out the first two batters in the bottom of the first — Kiowa won the pregame coin toss and volunteered to be the home team — and didn’t give up another hit. He struck out five in three strong innings to earn the mound win. Reliever Dalton Reed finished Kiowa off, working around two singles in the fourth to strike out four more Kiowa hitters over the final two frames.

   The postgame celebration was a bit subdued. Simon said his team knows there’s more work to be done.

   “It never gets old. I think these guys have a great opportunity ahead of them, and that’s all you can ask for,” he said. “I just hope we go play well next week and give ourselves a chance to win.”

   Roff cleanup man Cruz Villafranco, who refused to get out the entire regional tournament, blasted a two-run homer well over the scoreboard off Smith, Kiowa’s big lefty hurler, during a four-run Tiger first inning. During Roff’s three regional games, Villafranco — also one of the area’s top catchers — reached base in all 13 of his at-bats, finishing 8-for-8 with nine runs scored and eight RBIs.

   “I did not realize that,” Simon said when told of Villafranco’s nice on base percentage.

   “He’s the kind of kid that kind of epitomizes our program. He’s a blue-collar kid that works really hard and loves the game of baseball,” he continued. “He’s great story and a great kid that loves the game. His motto right now is, he’s just trying to have fun. At the end of the day, it’s just a game and you have to play it. You can’t work it. He seems he’s figured it out. He’s found that rhythm and the proper attitude to play with. He’s having fun. Baseball has to be fun when you’re hitting the ball like that, and he deserves it.”

   Zach Lewis launched a two-run homer in the top of the second as the Tigers scored three times to build a 7-1 lead.

   Roff really broke the game open in the top of the third with a seven-run volley. Dalton Reed sent a three-run homer to orbit during that outburst, while C.J. Johnson added a two-run single.

   Smith and Kiowa relievers Tristan McMath and Cade Shores didn’t help their own cause. Kiowa pitchers combined for eight walks and six hit batters and uncorked a whopping 10 wild pitches in the five-inning affair.

   Andy Antonio had an RBI single, and Brighton Andrews added a sacrifice fly as Roff scored three more runs in the fourth. Jacob Jones drove in the final run of the game with his RBI hit in the top of the sixth.

   Villafranco wrapped up his incredible regional run with a 3-for-3 effort that included four runs scored and two RBIs. Reed added two hits, three RBIs and three more runs, and seven other Roff players had at least one hit in the run-rule victory.

   Smith had two of Kiowa’s three hits in the game.

   The Tigers outscored three regional opponents by a combined 51-6 score.

   “We played better this week than we have any other week. I felt like one through nine had good at-bats up and down and felt like our pitchers threw it good,” Simon said. “They kind of know. It seems like they all kind of flipped a switch ... they’ve been through it and know what it takes this time of year. They just had a different air about them and a different attitude about them, and I hope it continues this week.”

   Simon said this is the time of the year any team hopes it’s playing its best baseball.

“We preach ‘a week and two days.' That’s when we feel like we have to play our absolute best baseball. That’s starting (in the regional tournament) and through Saturday of the state finals. I thought we started that this week,” he said.

Loser’s Bracket

Kiowa 7, Vanoss 4

   WIth the game tied at 4-4, Vanoss had a golden opportunity to score some runs go awry in the top of the sixth.

   The Wolves loaded the bases with just one out when Ricky Phillips struck out but was safe at first when Kiowa catcher Landon Hall dropped the third strike and didn’t throw down to first. Cody Tharp then ripped a line drive to leaping shortstop Tristan McMath, who made the nice grab and tagged Vanoss runner Hunter Vazquez, who was heading back to second for an inning-ending double play.

   Hall broke the tie and drove in what turned into the winning run with a squeeze bunt RBI single in the bottom of the sixth. The Cowboys got two insurance runs, thanks to an RBI double by Team Hackler.

   Vanoss got a pair of runs in the first. CD Lancaster had an RBI single and later swiped home when another Vanoss runner was caught between first and second during a run down.

   After Kiowa answered with two error-aided runs in the bottom of the first, the Cowboys scored twice in the second to grab a 4-2 lead.

   The Wolves knotted the game at 4-4 with two runs in the fifth.

   Phillips walked and later scored on a balk for the first run, and Dillon Lamb tied the game with an RBI single.

   Braeten Anders earned the mound win for Kiowa, striking out eight in the complete-game outing. Phillips absorbed the loss in relief for Vanoss (18-14).

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