Apr 30, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Here stood the Bishop Ludden baseball team, undefeated, watching as a massive lead melted away against defending state Class B champion Westhill in the bottom of the seventh inning of Friday night’s game at Alliance Bank Stadium.
One out from victory, the Gaelic Knights couldn’t close things out. A nine-run margin was down to two, partially because Corey Hewitt had hit a double down the left-field line, scoring two runs.
Only Hewitt wasn’t supposed to be at the plate. He had pitched and left the game in the top of the fourth, and could not legally come back.
Once umpires Ron Cook and Mark Grosso were made aware of that rule, they ruled that the game ended, and Ludden had survived with an 11-9 victory – but it took a long time to make it official.
At first, Westhill head coach Bob Weismore made a formal protest, saying that Cook and Grosso had not taken note of the illegal substitution until another batter, Len Graf, had taken his turn, and then two pitches were thrown to Dan Lowery.
Officials upheld the protest, meaning that, at some point later in the season, the game would resume with Ludden still needing that final out.
But after some further thought, Weismore decided to accept the defeat, saying on Saturday that it would not have been proper to win a game based on a protest – especially when Westhill had made the substitution mistake in the first place.
The drawn-out ending punctuated a memorable game that was dramatic right from the start – then went crazy in the last inning long before any protests.
Westhill got to Gaelic Knights ace Matt Pirro in the bottom of the first, loading the bases with two walks and an error before Mark Syron struck a triple down the right-field line, clearing the bases and putting the Warriors up 3-0. It was the first runs Pirro had allowed all season after 22 shutout innings.
However, Ludden chipped away with runs in the second and third (the latter set up by John Rooney’s triple), then got stymied for a moment when Kevin McAvoy, returning from a broken hand, made his first mound appearance of the season and recorded five strikeouts.
However, the last of those five K’s proved costly, as it got dropped, allowing Aaron Maher to reach base in the top of the sixth. Rooney followed with a walk, and Davis brought them home with a triple down the same line Syron had used earlier, putting the Gaelic Knights in front 4-3.
Pirro settled down, retiring the last 10 batters he faced and recording six strikeouts as the game went to the seventh – when it all broke down.
At first, Ludden appeared to end things by sending 12 men to the plate against three Westhill pitchers and recording seven runs. James Murray hit a 400-foot double to bring home two runs, Rooney had his own two-run double and O’Kane poked a two-run single during the deluge.
Now ahead 11-3, and with the game seemingly out of reach, the Gaelic Knights inserted Cory Hunter on the mound. But he only got one out and gave up Greg Schmidt’s bases-loaded single, making it 11-5.
O’Kane replaced Hunter and got the second out, only to see Syron drive in his fourth run with a single.
And here is where Hewitt came back, delivering his double that made the game 11-8 just before Graf reached on an error, bringing Lowery, representing the tying run, to the plate.
With the count at one ball and one strike, Ludden head coach Ted Klamm, made aware of Hewitt’s return by a parent, alerted the umpires of the illegal subsitution. After a four-minute discussion, the game was declared over – a result Westhill would finally accept the next day.
This game was part of the two-day “Strike Out Lou Gehrig’s Disease” Baseball Classic at Alliance Bank Stadium, which raised funds for the Upstate New York Chapter of the ALS Foundation.
And it was just the first of two meetings between Westhill and Ludden, with the rematch to take place Monday on the Gaelic Knights’ home field in Geddes.