Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
WASHINGTON — In an eventual 7-4 loss by the Mid-Prairie baseball team, the score was 5-4 in the top of the sixth inning of a Class 2A substate final Tuesday.
Carson Maeder was on second when a Davis County teammate singled to center field. Maeder went to third. Mid-Prairie shortstop Keegan Gingerich was the relay man from the outfield and overthrew third base so Maeder headed home.
"It should not have been thrown. The play was done,“ Mid-Prairie head coach Kyle Mullett said.
Golden Hawks pitcher Kayden Reinier backed up the play and threw high to catcher Vinnie Bowlin at home. Bowlin leapt to snag the ball and planted himself in the base line and waited.
Maeder was steps away, lowered himself to prepare for the collision and hit Bowlin’s glove forcing the ball out. The home plate umpire scrambled into position and fell down as he did so, then ruled Maeder safe as the ball bounced on the ground.
The event prompted an extended conference with another umpire, then the third umpire was brought in. Meanwhile, fans from the two clubs shouted their opinions on the outcome of the play.
The extended conference by the umpires brought the game to a halt and could have sapped energy, but not on the Golden Hawks.
“It didn’t matter if we were down one run or five, I feel like our guys have done a great job of staying centered,“ Mullett said.
The same could not be said of the fans on either side. The banter between the Mustang and Golden Hawk fans kept getting more pointed the longer the umpires talked.
The final verdict came down as Maeder was safe. The umpires somehow arrived at the conclusion that he did not initiate the contact with Bowlin that caused the ball to come out. This was decided despite the fact Bowlin clearly stood and waited and Maeder lowered himself and used his hands to hit the catcher’s mitt.
“I was so mad at our players for making the throw to third, the kid deserved to be safe,” Mullett said. “We should have never been in that position.”
According to the National Federation of High Schools offensive interference is an act which interferes with any fielder attempting to make a play or when a runner creates malicious contact in or out of the baseline.
The Official Baseball Rules Rule 6.0 states if a runner attempting to score initiates contact with any player covering home plate the runner is out (regardless of whether the player covering home plate maintains possession of the ball). Rule 6.01 states the failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner's lowering of the shoulder, or the runner's pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner initiated contact in violation of the rule and he would be out.
This would seem to be what happened, although the rules are prefaced with “in the umpire’s judgment.”
Mid-Prairie head coach Kyle Mullett asked the umpire about the restriction calling for a slide. If the runner slides into the plate in an appropriate manner, he shall not be adjudged to have violated the rule. There is no “must slide rule.” The rule is, “slide, or attempt to get around.”
“My concern was that he didn’t slide, but Vinny was up the line a little bit and the runner was not required to slide. He is entitled to that baseline,” Mullett said. “If Vinnie had been over the plate and the guy runs into him, he is out.”
Bowlin was on the third base side of the batter’s box, which put him four feet from home plate. Thus he was up the line and the runner safe.
This was the decision by the umpires.
Despite all the hand-wringing by the Golden Hawk faithful, the play turned out to not matter as the Mustangs added another run in the seventh inning. The Hawks meanwhile went down in order in all three of the final innings, once on just five pitches.
“We made a throw to third that we should have never ever made,” Mullett said. “When they came in from that inning they talked about how they came back against Williamsburg. They battled and that’s all you can ask for.“