Entering a state title game, the last thing coaches and players want is for the umpires to decide a game, but for the Cactus Cobras, that may have happened May 16 at ASU Farrington Stadium.
Entering the fifth inning trailing 2-0 in the Division II championship game, Tatumn Porras crushed a double off the left field wall to open the inning. Emilie Guerra came up and hammered a deep fly ball to centerfield that hit a small pad that rises six inches above the centerfield wall for an apparent two-run home run.
Guerra raced towards second base and started her home run trot, when she smartly stopped at second and waited for a sign from the umpires.
She is still waiting for that sign.
Six inches that everyone in the stadium knew was a home run. I saw it; the photographer next to me saw it and the crowd knew it. Video replays showed that the ball had gone over the fence and the video recorder in the dugout showed Cactus head coach Bartt Underwood the tape after it happened.
“The guy videotaping the game in the dugout showed the video to me and it went over the fence, it was a home run,” Underwood said. “He told me it hit the top of the maroon box and then the yellow on top of the fence and he said, that is not what I saw.”
After the game, Underwood wouldn’t say that cost them the game, but said it may have.
“You never know how a team reacts after something like that,” Underwood said. “We had nobody out and would have been ahead by a run. Who is to say that Ironwood Ridge doesn’t start pressing.”
The Cactus players knew it was a home run and, to their credit, numerous members of the Ironwood Ridge team said they thought it was a home run.
“Now don’t get me wrong,” Underwood said, “that is not why we lost the game. Ironwood Ridge is a great hitting team, but you never know what would have happened.”
After the home run, Underwood came out and argued with the second base umpire, who then asked for help from the third base umpire. The two got together with the home plate umpire and, after a few minutes discussion, called the hit a double.
Checking the Arizona Interscholastic Association rule book, there is no rule that says umpires cannot check video to review a call.
Why not just take a look? What would it have hurt to verify a home run in the state title game?
Take out the outcome of the game, which may or may not have changed.
“Never mind the game, they took away a home run in a title game from a sophomore,” Underwood said. “That is the worst part of the whole situation.”
Everyone in the stadium saw it was a home run, but the umpires missed it and that is the sad part of this game.
“I am proud as hell of those girls for the way they battled tonight,” Underwood said. “It has been a special year and the girls have nothing to hang their heads at tonight.”
Cactus had its chances and probably should have pulled out the victory, but because of the umpires, we will never know.