Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Oklahoma City —
The slow rolling ground ball off the bat of Binger-Oney nine-hole hitter Colby Sweeney with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning must have appeared to be headed toward Roff shortstop Mike Anderson in slow motion.
Anderson charged the ball and slung it toward first, but the throw didn’t beat Sweeney to the bag. The infield hit drove in the winning run from third base as the Bobcats pulled off a dramatic 4-3 victory in Saturday’s Class A State Tournament championship game, played before a packed house at Dolese Park’s Palmer Field.
Moments after the play, Binger and its fans began celebrating their second baseball state championship of the school year — the Bobcats also won the 2013 fall state title — while Roff supporters agonized over the way the game ended. It was the second straight spring state runner-up finish for the Tigers.
“If that’s the way it ends on our side, it’s a great game. If it doesn’t, it's a rough game,” said Roff head coach Ead Simon.
“There’s a lot of plays in that game you can look at. So many things. It was just a hard-fought baseball game. Neither team wanted to lose,” he said. “They had strong wills. It’s obviously disappointing, but it was a fun game to be a part of.”
No. 3 Binger-Oney ended the season at 27-10, while top-ranked Roff sported a 29-7 mark.
The Bobcats started the eighth-inning magic with a one-out infield hit by Cord Coffey. Dakota Green walked, and both runners advanced when Tanner Toho grounded out to first base. It took a nice play by Roff first baseman Rayce Stephens to get that out after Toho’s ground ball glanced off his chest and struck him in the face. Stephens stepped on the bag to record the out and then got some medical attention before returning to the field for Sweeney’s heroics.
“They just play hard. They put a lot of pressure on you and run the bases well,” said Simon of Roff’s state finals foes. “For the most part, we handled it pretty good. We just came up a little short today.”
The game featured a classic pitchers duel between Roff ace Dalton Reed and Binger-Oney’s Austin Green. Reed struck out nine, scattered five hits, walked two and hit one batter in eight impressive innings of work.
Green struck out eight and allowed just four Roff hits after tossing the final 2.2 innings of Binger’s 7-6 semifinal victory over Rattan.
“Both of them were pretty gutsy,” Simon said of the two aces on the hill.
The Bobcats scored the first two runs of the game in the bottom of the third. Weston Kirlick reached on an error, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on Hunter King’s RBI single. King would later score on an RBI groundout by Green to put Binger ahead 2-0.
Roff catcher Cruz Villanfranco reached on a fielder’s choice with two outs in the fourth and his courtesy runner, Jacob Jones, went to third on a double to right field by Andy Antonio. Jones would scurry home on a passed ball to cut the Binger lead to 2-1.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kerlick led off with a bunt single, stole second (his second swipe of the game) and later scored on an RBI triple by Green that boosted the Bobcats to a 3-1 lead.
Roff responded with two runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 3-3. Anderson started the Roff rally with a leadoff single and went to second when the ball got past Binger left fielder Cord Coffey. Zach Lewis laid a bunt down the left field line that was butchered, allowing Anderson to score all the way from second. Lewis raced home on Binger’s third error of the inning before Green limited the damage by stranding runners at the corners by getting Hunter Larsh to fly out to right field for the final out.
Roff missed an opportunity at a run in the top of the seventh, when nine-hole hitter Rayce Stephens lined a shot off the wall in left field for a one-out double that might have been a home run at many different parks. Stephens got to third on a passed ball, but the Tigers couldn’t get him home.
Kerlick was the only player in the game to collect more than one hit, finishing 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Green had two RBIs for the Bobcats.
Reed walked three times — including one intentional pass — as the Tigers got four hits by four different players.
Roff was looking for its sixth spring state title since 2004. In fact, the Tigers had won three straight spring championships before finishing as runners-up the past two seasons.
It was Binger-Oney’s first spring championship since 1992.
CLASS A STATE
At Dolese Park • OKC
Binger-Oney 4, Roff 3
ROFF 000 102 00 — 3 4 2
BINGER 002 010 01 — 4 7 5
Dalton Reed and Cruz Villafranco. Austin Green and Colby Sweeney. WP-Green (11-1). LP-Reed. 3B-Green (BO). 2B-Andy Antonio (R). HL-Reed 9 Ks (R); Weston Kerlick 2-4, 2 RS, Green 1-4, 2 RBIs, 8 Ks (BO).