By BOB FORREST
BOKCHITO — Even though they were a concensus No. 2 in Class A baseball, Roff’s Tigers were feeling a little unappreciated when they headed off to meet No. 1 Rock Creek on the Mustangs’ home field Monday to settle one-half of the championship of the recent Rattan Tournament.
The Tigers, despite going 30-2 last fall and winning 15 of their first 19 games this spring (with two one-run losses to 2A No. 1 Dale and one each to 2A No. 4 Gore and 4A No. 7 Anadarko), dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 when the new CoachesAid poll was released Monday, and they were also No. 2 in the latest coaches’ poll.
Obviously, it was time to make a statement.
Roff shocked the Mustangs with three home runs in an eight-run first inning and, despite some late Rock Creek fireworks, cruised to a convincing 12-6 victory that firmly established the Tigers as the team to beat in Class A this spring.
“It looked like we came here with something to prove,” Roff coach Ead Simon said after watching his club pound out 16 hits — including five home runs — against three Rock Creek pitchers. “We jumped out to the big lead, then it looked like we just coasted.”
In the second game of the day, Rock Creek spotted Coalgate an early lead but roared back to beat the Wildcats (No. 8 in Class 2A), 13-6.
Roff 12, Rock Creek 6
Roff got a tape-measure leadoff homer from Dearth Parker on the second pitch of the game from Rock Creek starter Brandon Armstrong and three-run shots from Jo Jo Scott and Glenn Cornell later in the inning, and the Tigers were within one strike of ending the game on the run rule in the fifth when Tyler Titsworth slugged a two-out, two-strike, three-run homer off winning pitcher Carter Browning to cut a 12-3 Roff lead to 12-6.
Browning (4-1) struggled with his control and was inconsistent with his breaking pitch all day, but he allowed just three hits — a two-run first-inning homer to catcher Jo Dan Davis and singles by Josh Williams and Dustin Baker to account for a second-inning run — and struck out five in four-plus innings before the sudden Rock Creek rally in the fifth extended the game to seven innings.
“Carter was pumped, but there’s a fine line between being focused and being too juiced,” Simon said of Browning, a senior righthander who threw 102 pitches in five innings before giving way to Scott. “He wasn’t getting ahead of the hitters. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled all day.”
And the Tiger offense gave Browning all the support he needed before he ever threw a pitch.
Roff’s nine starters didn’t swing and miss at all against Armstrong, who, like Browning, couldn’t get his breaking ball over and was forced to stick with a fastball that the Tigers tattooed in their first trip through the lineup.
After Parker’s homer (his first of two in the game) leading off, Jason Trimmer and C. J. Stewart followed with singles to put runners at the corners, and a sacrifice fly from Browning made it 2-0. Atlee Kile then singled to left, and Scott hit a laser that just cleared the fence — and Titsworth’s glove — in right field to increase the lead to 5-0.
But the Tigers weren’t finished.
Logan Lomas, who would also homer in the fifth to drive in Roff’s final two runs, singled to center, Daniel Boss beat out a swinging bunt up the third-base line for an infield hit, and Cornell ripped a 1-1 pitch down the right-field line for another opposite-field three-run blast to make it 8-0 and chase Armstrong.
“I was a little surprised that we hit like that in the first inning,” Simon said. “But one-through-nine (in the batting order) we can be a little tough to get out sometimes.”
Clint Mefford relieved Armstrong and didn’t allow a hit until the third, when Parker drilled his second homer of the game to dead center field, and Roff chased Mefford with a three-spot in the fourth. Parker led off with a ground-rule double that hopped over the wall in right-center, and he scored the first run of the inning on a one-out sacrifice fly by Kile. Scott then lined a single to left, and Lomas hit a 1-0 pitch over the wall in right-center to increase the Roff lead to 12-3.
Browning, who threw 68 pitches through three, had his only 1-2-3 inning of the game in the fourth and struck out Davis leading off the fifth, but Matt Cartwright drew the fourth walk of the game issued by Browning (who also hit two batters), and Choc Cartwright lined the first pitch he saw off the leg of the Roff starter for an infield hit.
After falling behind Titsworth 2-0, Browning battled back to even the count, then Titsworth fouled off two pitches before ripping a fastball to right-center for a no-doubt homer that kept the Mustangs’ hopes alive.
Scott allowed a two-out single to Patrick Sheffield before retiring Rock Creek in the sixth, then the Mustangs loaded the bases with one out in the seventh on singles by Choc Cartwright, Williams and Titsworth. But Spencer Hammons (who entered the game when Jerry Ford relieved Meffort in the fifth), popped out to Stewart at third, and Scott struck out Baker to end the game.
Parker, who has five home runs in his last four games after a slow start at the plate this spring, finished 3-fo-5, and five other Roff players — Trimmer, Stewart, Lomas, Scott and Daniel Boss (who made a sensational diving catch of Ford’s foul ball down the right-field line for the second out in the sixth) — had two hits apiece in the win.
Williams was 3-for-4 and teamed with Titsworth and Choc Cartwright for seven of the Mustangs’ 10 hits.
Roff returns to action Thursday, facing Harrah at 2:30 p.m. and Ardmore at 4:45 p.m. at Marlow in the first round of pool play at the Duncan Tournament, where the Tigers are the defending champions.
Rock Creek 13, Coalgate 6
Coalgate led 4-0 after scoring three runs in the top of the third, but Rock Creek exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the inning and went on to the victory, which was fueled by 10 walks and three hit batters by three Coalgate pitchers.
Thomas Madden singled, stole two bases and scored on Aaron Guinn’s single in the first, and Dakota Spears doubled to ignite the Wildcats’ three-run third, which included an RBI single by Guinn and a two-run double from Tagus Horton.
Rock Creek, helped by wildness from Coalgate starter Mitchell Loudermilk, then took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning with an eight-run outburst that featured an RBI double by Jerry Ford.
“Our pitchers just lost focus,” Coalgate coach Phil Wilkinson said after watching his team fall to 9-4 on the season. “Mitchell Loudermilk struck out the side in the first inning and had a pretty good second inning, and he just blew up on me in the third. We didn’t help him on defense, though.
“I think we’re a good team, but we just have to play more consistent,” Wilkinson added. “We jumped up on them 4-0 and tried to coast. We have to get where we play consistent every inning.”
Coalgate returns to the diamond at 4 p.m. today, hosting Antlers.
By BOB FORREST