SHAWNEE – Battling through adversity has been a common theme for the top-ranked Roff Tigers this spring. One last conquering battle led to a Class B State baseball championship Saturday night.
Roff came from behind twice to defeat the second-ranked Drummond Bulldogs 11-7 at Shawnee High School’s Ed Skelton Field at Memorial Park.
The Tigers took a hit early in April when starting catcher and senior Dayne Bowerman suffered a season-ending injury, but Roff continued its stride in cruising down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Just like that early April setback, the Tigers battled through another short setback, falling into a 4-0 hole in the second inning Saturday and even trailing again by a 7-6 count heading into the bottom of the fourth.
But resilient Roff found a way to push through to the victory and a third straight state championship after a spring 2018 crown and a fall 2018 title.
The Tigers finished their 2019 campaign at 28-3, while Drummond is runner-up at 35-7.
“It wasn’t textbook baseball, but we have kids with a lot of grit,” said Tiger head coach Ead Simon, who surpassed the 1,000-career victory plateau this spring. “We didn’t play as well as we liked, but we found a way to win. This is a special group of kids.”
The victory came after Roff knocked off Asher by a 4-3 count earlier in the day. The Tigers had to come from behind to knock off the Indians, too. Drummond beat Red Oak 3-2 in walk-off fashion during Saturday’s other semifinal clash.
Roff 11, Drummond 7
Saturday’s championship game saw the Bulldogs shellshock the Tigers with a 4-0 blitz in the second frame behind an RBI double down the left field line by Braden Longpine, a two-run double to left-center by Bryce Longpine and a run-scoring single up the middle by Seth Gray.
But it didn’t take long for Roff to respond. The Tigers scored six runs in the bottom of the second off just two hits and with the help of a Drummond error.
Trayson Miller was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the second. Aiden Bagwell reached on an infield single, and Chad Whitis got on with an error to load the bases. Conner Baldridge then picked up one RBI after drawing the bases-loaded walk. Wil Joplin was then plucked by a pitch to bring home another run to make it 4-2.
Brady Benedict, who went 3-for-4 with a walk in the game, then crushed a 2-1 pitch off the right-field wall for a double, which plated three runs to make it 5-4.
“It was a fastball down the middle. I stroked it,” said Benedict. “That’s three in a row. These guys (on the team) are my brothers. We’re a team that believes in each other, and our coaches believe in us.”
Benedict, who later advanced to third off the second of two Cooper Simon sacrifice bunts, scored off Conner Owens’ sacrifice fly to left field to make it 6-4.
However, Drummond put together a three-run fourth to get the upper hand again. Seth Gray’s two-run single up the middle made it 6-all, and Garrett DeHaas followed with a run-scoring single for a 7-6 Bulldog edge.
Once again, Roff responded again.
Benedict scored off an Owens sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom half of the fourth. Benedict had gotten on base with an infield single.
The Tigers then took the lead for good when Bagwell, who led off with a walk, stole second base, moved up to third on a Baldridge sacrifice bunt and scored off a passed ball via a dropped third strike.
Roff then got some separation in the seventh thanks to a bases-loaded, three-run double by Joplin. The ball Joplin hit dropped between the left fielder and centerfielder after some miscommunication.
Bagwell worked the first six innings for the win. He survived 12 hits, walked three and registered a strikeout. Whitis came on and worked the seventh to keep Drummond at bay. Though Whitis surrendered a leadoff walk, the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice, and then a 1-6-3 double play ended the game and started an RHS dogpile.
Miller finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk. Joplin was 1-for-2 with the three RBIs and a run scored. Bagwell and Cooper Simon were also 1-for-2. Bagwell scored once and drew a pair of walks. Whitis ended 1-for-3 and scored a run.
“It was like a heavyweight fight for much of the game,” Ead Simon said. “We preach to the guys to not take things for granted.”
Roff 4, Asher 3
Bagwell’s RBI double to right-center scored Talon Rhoten from second base with what proved to be the game-winner in the top of the seventh inning, as the Tigers edged the Indians.
The game was deadlocked at 3 heading into the seventh. Owens began the inning with a fly ball to the gap in right-center, but Asher centerfielder Patch Hamilton made an amazing diving catch to his left for the first out. However, Rhoten reached base and got all the way to second on a throwing error to set the stage for Bagwell’s heroic double off a 2-2 delivery from just inserted reliever Jr. Hasbell.
The Indians jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning advantage off Roff starting pitcher Baldridge. Dobbs singled to left with one out. Trevor Martin followed with a double to center, bringing home Dobbs. Then Patch Hamilton traded places with Martin as he doubled to the warning track in center, and Martin scored from second to make it 2-0.
Asher maintained that 2-0 lead until the fourth, when Roff finally got on the board. Owens led off with a single, and Rhoten was then hit by a pitch. Trayson Miller reached on a fielder’s choice as Owens was forced out at third. But a shallow single down the right-field line by Bagwell loaded up the bases. Wil Joplin then picked up an RBI when he drew a bases-loaded walk.
The Indians then upped their advantage to 3-1 in the fifth when Dobbs doubled to left, advanced to third on Martin’s fly out to left and scored off Patch Hamilton’s sacrifice fly.
However, the Tigers forced a 3-all deadlock with a pair of scores in the sixth.
Bagwell drew a walk with one out. With two outs, Whitis singled through the left side of the infield, and Baldridge reached on an infield single to load up the bases. Benedict then hit a sharp grounder to first base for an infield single. On the same play, the ball was thrown wildly and both Bagwell and Cole Hudson, pinch-running for Whitis, scored to tie it up.
Baldridge scattered 10 hits, allowed no walks and recorded one strikeout over six innings for Roff. All three Asher runs scored off him were earned. Whitis got the save after pitching the seventh. He permitted just one hit.
Dobbs singled with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but the game ended on a 6-4-3 double play.
Bagwell and Baldridge each finished 2-for-3 from the plate to pace Roff. Bagwell drove home the game-winning run with the double, scored once and walked one time. Owens ended up 2-for-4 with two singles up the middle. A potential third was robbed off Patch Hamilton’s diving snag.
For Asher, Dobbs finished 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. Chase Eckart and Dylan Williamson were each 2-for-3. One of Eckart’s hits went for a double. Martin finished with two doubles and a run scored.
NOTES: Saturday’s title game was the finale for five Roff seniors – Bowerman, Baldridge, Hudson, Cooper Simon and Whitis. That group of five seniors made seven state tournament appearances (fall and spring), including the three state crowns and one runner-up finish. It was the Tigers’ eighth spring championship.
Editor’s Note: The Ada News sports editor Jeff Cali contributed to this report.
By The Numbers
Saturday, May 4
CLASS B STATE
At Shawnee High School
Roff 4, Asher 3
ROFF 000 102 1 — 4 8 0
ASHER 200 010 0 — 3 11 2
Conner Baldridge, Chad Whitis (7) and Aiden Bagwell; Jake Dobbs, Jr Hasbell (7) and Austin Custar. W – Baldridge. L – Dobbs. Save – Whitis. 2B – Bagwell (R); Trevor Martin 2, Patch Hamilton, Chase Eckart, Dylan Williamson, Dobbs (A). HL – Bagwell 2-3, 1 RBI, 1 RS, 1 BB; Conner Baldridger 2-3; Conner Owens 2-4; Whitis 1-3, 1 RS (R); Dobbs 3-4, 2 RS; Eckart 2-3; Williamson 2-3; Martin 2-4, 1 RS; P. Hamilton 1-2, 1 RS; Mike McDonald 1-3 (A).
Roff 11, Drummond 7
DRUMMOND 040 300 0 — 7 12 1
ROFF 060 113 x — 11 9 1
Garrett DeHaas, Wyatt Gray (5) and W. Gray, Seth Gray (5); Aiden Bagwell, Chad Whitis (7) and Conner Owens, Bagwell (7). W – Bagwell. L – W. Gray. 2B – Braden Longpine, Bryce Longpine, Ty Schlecht (D); Brady Benedict, Wil Joplin (R). HL – W. Gray 2-2, 2 RS, 1 BB; S Gray 2-3, 3 RBIs, 1 RS, 1 BB; Bryce Longpine 1-1, 2 RBIs; Trevin King 1-1, 1 RS; Cale Bridges 1-2, 1 RS, 1 BB; Braden Longpine 1-3, 1 RBI, 2 RS; Garrett Pool 1-3, 1 RS; DeHaas 1-3, 1 BB (D); Brady Benedict 3-4, 3 RBIs, 2 RS, 1 BB; Trayson Miller 2-3, 2 RS; Joplin 1-2. 3 RBIs, 1 RS; Bagwell 1-2, 1 RS, 2 BB: Cooper Simon 1-2; Chad Whitis 1-3, 1 RS (R).