WARR ACRES — It was the longest run of the season for Roff junior Cruz Villafranco, and it might have been just as long for everyone watching.
Batting in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded and two outs in a tie game, the stocky catcher somehow legged out an infield hit to score a run to seal a wild 5-4 victory over No. 4 Sterling in the Class A semifinals Friday at Palmer Field at Dolese Park.
“It was one of the tougher at-bats that I’ve went through this year,” Villafranco said. “It felt pretty long going down the base line there. I didn’t know what happened to the ball and when I hit the bag I heard the mitt pop and I knew I was safe, then I saw the run go across.”
Roff, ranked No. 1, will play No. 3 Binger-Oney at 11 a.m. Saturday for the Class A title. The Tigers are seeking their first championship since 2011.
Roff (29-7) certainly feels fortunate to be there after taking advantage of four Sterling errors in that sixth inning.
Sterling (25-6) was clinging to a 4-2 lead behind ace Tucker White when things unraveled.
Third baseman Chase Bridges committed two errors, including a throwing error that pulled second baseman Ty Smith off the base before he errantly threw home to allow CJ Johnson to score the tying run.
Sterling later intentionally walked Dalton Reed to face Villafranco, who simply put the ball in play after falling behind 0-2 and working the count to 2-2.
“I looked up and I thought he should be there and he was still chugging,” Roff coach Ead Simon said. “I was just like, ‘Hurry, hurry, hurry.’”