ROFF – The Colbert Leopards are headed to the state baseball championship for the first time in more than a decade.
Colbert won the regional runner-up bid for a shot at state on Monday with a 10-3 decision over Hydro-Eakly. The Bobcats were no match for Leopard ace Kason Krob, who fanned 13 in his complete-game victory on the mound.
The early dominance by Krob allowed Colbert hitters to do what they’ve been doing all season, which is timely hitting, speedy base-running and scoring almost at will at times. They put up four runs in the third inning which all but salted away the win.
“I’m happy for these kids,” said Colbert baseball Coach Lance Britt. “They worked hard all year and they deserve this. We got a strong pitching performance today as Kason threw well. “
When the regional playoffs started last week, Colbert slipped past Roff 1-0 and fell to Sterling 8-6 before rain forced three of the regional survivors to re-schedule games on Monday. Hydro-Eakly eliminated Roff 8-5 on Monday before losing to the Leopards in a winner-take-all game.
“I’m just proud for this community,” Britt said. “We’ll go to work tomorrow and Wednesday, and head up and play Thursday.”
The Leopards could possibly be paired with Bryan County rivals from Silo, but that won’t be known until 2 p.m. Tuesday when OSSAA releases the state tournament bracket. Game times and locations also will be announced today.
Monday was all about the dogpile on Tiger Field in Roff after Colbert clinched state. Parents streamed onto the field for photos, and the players eventually doused their coach from the water bucket in true sports tradition.
Dylan Jones had four RBIs on two doubles, Bradley Nichols counted three RBIs which included a two-run home run into the wind to get the Colbert scoring started. Caleb Shoemake, Preston Rice and Trevor Cole also collected runs batted in.
Krob struck out seven of the first nine Bobcats to come to the plate, retiring the side in order in the third. The leopards went up 2-0 in the first on the Nichols shot, then 3-0 on a Jones double which scored Shoemake after he walked.
Hydro-Eakly committed two of their six errors in the third, which didn’t help their new pitcher. Abases-loaded walk scored Dakota Graham after he singled, then Jones’ second double cleared the bases to give Colbert a 7-0 start.
Krob shook off a four-hit fourth for the Bobcats – including a two-run longball of their own – scattering three more K’s through the inning. The defense shone in the fifth as two base hits turned into outs on a run-down and a pickoff, and Graham at third grabbed a low liner.
The Bobcats tacked on another run in the sixth to cut the Leopards’ lead to 7-3. But Colbert would add three more in the bottom of the sixth on two errors, a walk, a sacrifice and two base hits (Cole and Whitehead). Jones, Bradley Nichols and courtesy runner Keller Cummins all scored.
Colbert improves to 24-6 overall this season, including a 5-1 run through the postseason. The Leopards split two regular season games against Silo, and also lost a tournament game to Rattan, a team they are likely to see at some point in the state bracket.