ROFF — With one last chance for their respective senior classes to meet on the baseball field hanging in the balance, Dale and host Roff did their part Friday to set up Saturday’s dream match-up in the championship game of the 12th annual Roff Spring Invitational.
Dale — No. 1 in Class 2A — banged out three home runs and used a key Stonewall error in the fifth inning and the one-hit pitching of lefthander Seth Terry to cool off the Longhorns, 10-1, in Friday’s first semifinal, then Roff — ranked No. 1 in Class A — needed only three at-bats to post a run-rule 12-0 victory over Class B No. 9 Red Oak in the nightcap.
Their impressive victories earned the Pirates (20-5) and the Tigers (24-5) the right to meet for the third time this spring, after Dale — the team that eliminted top-ranked Roff from the Class A state tournament last fall — had won three straight one-run decisions over the Tigers.
Roff 12, Red Oak 0
Roff ace C. J. Stewart allowed only one hit — a third-inning single by Brandon Van Hook — after pitching out of a big first-inning jam, and the Tigers — who made three errors in the first two innings — took advantage of three Red Oak miscues to score nine runs in the bottom of the third and ended the game on the run rule when Stewart struck out the side in the top of the fourth.
Stewart, one of six seniors in Roff’s starting lineup, fanned nine in four innings and walked just one batter, and Red Oak got only one batter as far as second over the final three innings.
The Eagles mounted a huge threat in the top of the first, when Keith Price reached on an error and moved to third on Jon Lowder’s single down the right field line. But Stewart struck out the side and ended the inning when Ryan Rutledge looked at a fastball for a called third strike.
Roff took the lead for good with three runs — two unearned — in the first on a leadoff homer by Dearth Parker (his 7th in Roff’s last eight games), a single by Jason Trimmer and walk to Stewart. Trimmer scored when Red Oak catcher Dustin Coffey’s attempted pickoff of courtesy runner Matthew Potts at first base (with two outs) went down the right field line, and Potts scored on Jo Jo Scott’s bloop double to right.
Scott advanced to third on a single to left by Logan Lomas and Daniel Boss walked to load the bases, but the inning ended when Scott was thrown out at the plate attempting to score when a pitch got away from Coffey and trickled to the backstop.
The Tigers went quietly in the third, due in part to an outstanding play behind second base by Price (the Red Oak shortstop), who ranged up the middle to flag down Glenn Cornell’s grounder and threw him out by a half-step for the first out of the inning. But the Eagles imploded defensively in the third, and Roff took advantage, scoring nine runs on just two hits.
Carter Browning lined out to center leading off the third, but Atlee Kile reached on an error for the first of two times in the inning, and Lowder (the Red Oak starter) walked Scott, Lomas and Boss to force in a run. Cornell followed with a two-run single, Parker walked, and Trimmer drilled a two-run double to left-center to make it 9-0.
Trimmer — who was 2-for-2 and scored twice in addition to his two RBIs — moved to third on a passed ball, and, after Browning was hit by a pitch with two outs, scored on the second Red Oak error of the inning on Kile’s grounder to first. Scott was hit by a pitch to load the bases, then Lomas lifted a fly ball to right that Dalton Fazekas dropped for a two-base error that scored Browning and Kile with the final two runs.
Dale 10, Stonewall 1
Stonewall righthander Jared Pharr surrendered six hits but just one earned run and trailed 2-1 with two outs in the fifth, when Zeke Melton’s ground ball got past Longhorn first baseman Nick Skokos for an error that opened the floodgates to a five-run inning.
Jake Duggan followed the error with a single, Trevor Nelson homered to make it 5-1, and, after Terry singled to center, Barry Manship banged a two-run homer off the scoreboard in left field to put Dale up 7-1.
Jake Munday relieved Pharr to start the sixth and surrendered a leadoff single to Beau Carter and a one-out homer by Caleb Phillips, and the Pirates scored their final run on a double by Melton and a two-out single to left by Nelson.
Dale took a 1-0 lead on Melton’s leadoff homer in the second and made it 2-0 in the third, when Jared Coon reached on an infield single, moved to second on an error by Munday on the throw to first and scored on a single to left by Phillips.
Stonewall got its only hit — and only run off Terry — when J. P. Maples cracked a two-out homer in the bottom of the fourth, but the Longhorns had only one other baserunner in the game (Bo Scribner, who followed Maples’ homer with a walk). Terry struck out the side in three of Stonewall’s six at-bats and went to a three-ball count only twice in the game.