Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Top seed Byng and tournament host Roff didn’t exactly turn in dazzling performances, but both teams did enough to advance and set up an interesting semifinal showdown.
Byng — which stayed unbeaten at 10-0 on the year — managed just one base hit in the contest but moved past Oktaha 4-1 in one first-round matchup while Roff (6-4) used a six-run outburst in the bottom of the third and coasted past Moss 9-1 in six innings on the first day of the 34th Annual Roff Fall Tournament Thursday afternoon at Tiger Field. Asher met the Byng Junior Varsity and Latta battled Colbert in the two late first-round gams.
Byng and Roff will do battle in tonight’s 7 p.m. semifinal contest while Moss and Oktaha are scheduled to meet today at 2:30 p.m. The Latta-Colbert winner takes on the Asher-Byng JV winner at 5:30 p.m. in another semifinal showdown.
Roff 9, Moss 1
Moss grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, loading the bases on a pair of walks and a hit batter with just one out. Roff head coach Ead Simon opted to replace starting pitcher C.J. Johnson with Mike Anderson and after an error-aided run score, Anderson shut the door on the Pirates. He struck out 10 in the 6.2 innings he pitched and allowed just three hits.
Roff loaded the bases in the bottom of the first with no outs and ended up having nothing to show for it. Moss hurler Easton Elliott recorded a strikeout and then got Rayce Stephens to ground into a double play to end the inning with the Pirates still leading 1-0.
“I have two different teams and that’s not the good one,” Simon said following the win. “We’re not good enough when you load the bases not to maximize your scoring opportunities.”
While Anderson was busy keeping Moss off the scoreboard the rest of the game, Roff finally broke the ice in the bottom of the third.
Zach Lewis started the third-inning uprising with a leadoff double and went to second when the ball inadvertently bounced off the batt of Dalton Reed and died in front of home plate, resulting in an infield hit.
Lewis got caught in a run down between third and home for out No. 1 before Johnson drew a walk. Andy Antonio hit a ground ball to third and it looked like Moss had Reed in a pickle, but he dove back to third base, avoiding the big out. Stephens then walked to force in the first run, Anderson drove in a run with an infield hit and Antonio raced home on a wild pitch to give the locals a 3-1 lead.
Cruz Villafranco followed with a clutch two-RBI double and Hunter Larsh ripped another run-scoring double to right field to give the Tigers a 6-1 advantage. Roff had five of its seven hits in that big third-inning outburst.
The Tigers ended the game via the run-rule with three ugly runs (without the aid of a hit) in the bottom of the third, thanks to two walks, two hit batters and the second of two Moss errors in the game.
Anderson and Villafranco both had two hits apiece for Roff while Reed finished 1-for-1 and was hit twice and walked once. Villafranco had three RBIs.
Byng 4, Oktaha 1
The Pirates didn’t have a hit through five innings against Oktaha ace Daceuada Davis, who was solid in defeat for the Tigers. He struck out five during the one-hit performance, but he beaned three batters and walked two and nearly all those free passes came back to haunt him.
“You have to give it up to Oktaha. Their pitcher threw well and kept us off balance, and we made some errors we probably shouldn’t have made,” said Byng head coach Shawn Streater.
Byng scratched for two runs in the top of third after Elliott hit Zeke Lumley and Ryan Smith to start things off. Byng leadoff hitter Hunter Capps hit a sacrifice bunt and was safe at first on an error that loaded the bases with no outs.
Joe Nemecek drove in a run on a ground ball to second and Smith scored on a balk to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
Oktaha got one of the runs back in the bottom of the third on a Dalton Martin RBI single that left runners at first and second with two outs. Nemecek, Byng’s starting pitcher, avoided further damage with his third strikeout of the game.
Capps went to the mound to start the fourth inning and struck out seven and didn’t allow a hit in a sparkling relief effort.
Byng tacked on two insurance runs in the top of the fifth. Nemecek led off with a sharp single to right field that turned out to be the Pirates’ only hit of the game. Back-to-back walks to Reid Wall and Andre Davis loaded the bases before Andrew Daniel’s sacrifice fly drove in a run. Lumley reached on the second Oktaha error of the contest as the Pirates boosted their lead to 4-1.
Streater said there’s no time to dwell on Byng’s low key offensive performance.
“Baseball is funny. Some days you look like a world-beater, and some days you struggle to win. Today we struggled to win,” he said. “But at the end of the day, in a tournament, you just have to win. We won so we live to play (tonight). We have to bring a better effort tomorrow than we did today or we’ll get beat.”