Class B baseball: Roff claims second straight state title
SHAWNEE — Wil Joplin banged his fist into his other open hand and separated them in a flurry.
“Basically, I was saying, ‘I busted it open,'” the Roff High School sophomore recalled after the Tigers' victory.
Roff beat Drummond 11-7 in the Class B State Baseball Championship at Shawnee on Saturday. The Tigers claimed their second consecutive spring baseball title, after winning the Class A state tournament last season.
“It gets better every single time,” Joplin said. “It means more every single time because you know the work put in, it’s worth it.”
Joplin’s double in the sixth inning drove in the last three runs of the game. With two outs and two strikes on him, Joplin poked a fly ball out to left field.
“We preach to our guys all the time not to take anything for granted,” Tigers coach Ead Simon said. “You never know.”
As he sprinted toward second, Joplin saw Drummond’s left and center fielders floating under the ball but looking at each other. With a miscommunication, the ball fell, and Roff extended its lead from one run to four.
Those three runs didn’t alter the final outcome. Tigers senior Chad Whitis turned a double play in the seventh inning to secure his own save and the game. But they did give Roff a more comfortable lead in a back-and-forth battle.
Drummond entered the game with the momentum of a walk-off semifinal victory over Red Oak that same afternoon.
“The way the first one ended, I don’t think it could have been a better end and start to the next game,” Drummond coach Jared Swart said.
After a scoreless first frame, the Bulldogs were the first on the board. Drummond scored four runs on four hits in the top of the second.
But the Tigers rallied for six runs in the bottom of the inning.
“It’s not over till it’s over,” said Brady Benedict, who drove in three of those runs for Roff in the second inning. "It never is with us. We’re a fighting club. We never quit.”
The same could be said for the Bulldogs, who took a 7-6 lead in the top of the fourth inning. But Benedict scored on a sacrifice fly from Conner Owens to head into the fifth with a tie ballgame.
Roff capitalized on a pair of walks and a passed ball in the sixth inning. Then it was Joplin's turn to "bust it open."