By: Nathan Bloechl — email@example.com
Carroll — The New London Tiger baseball team committed four errors while the umpiring crew committed at least four of their own, as the snakebitten Tigers were downed 4-3 by No. 4 Kee yesterday in a Class 1A Quarterfinal.
The KeeHawks advance to take on top-seed Remsen St. Mary’s, Wednesday morning.
Blaming the umpires is the easy thing to do, but yesterday — at times — it felt like the calls — or lack thereof — went above and beyond your garden variety missed call.
The first came early in the game when New London starter Hecniel Rodriguez was called for a balk for what head coach Brad Helmerson was told as “leaving off the rubber too soon.”
The malady forced a run home for Kee and was the third consecutive game in which a Tiger pitcher had been called for a balk.
The second came in the top of the 3rd inning when after a Kooper Schulte walk, Hecniel Rodriguez bunted and the ensuing throw got away from Kee allowing Schulte to scamper home as Rodriguez glided into third.
But seconds after the play had concluded the home plate umpire called Rodriguez out. At first it appeared to be a batter’s interference call at first — which would not have made sense as Rodriguez did not deviate from the base path to impede the throw or the attempted catch.
Instead, after the game Helmerson said the home plate umpire claimed Rodriguez left the box too early and stepped on home.
The final blow, came on an attempted pick off of Kee designated hitter Colton Kelsch.
With runners on the corners and two gone, Kelsch purposely took an aggressive lead off to draw a throw from Rodriguez which would trigger a steal home from the runner at 3rd.
Instead, Rodriguez would bluff a throw to first, in which Kelsch took off for second. Rodriguez then calmly threw to second and Schulte applied the tag which would have ended the inning.
Instead, the first base umpire called a balk — the second of the game — against Rodriguez prior to the pick off.
Only, it was never a balk.
The umpiring crew met and deemed the call so egregiously bad, their only remedy for New London was to “re-do” the play.
The next pitch resulted in a run as Rodriguez, clearly frustrated, overthrew a fastball resulting in a wild pitch.
To their credit, New London would rally.
The Tigers put two runs up in the 7th on three consecutive hits to draw within 4-3 but after a groundout and a flyout, Kee reliever Dalton Dibert struck out Camden Kasel with the tying run on base to put out the fire.
New London closed their season 26-2.
Kee improved to 34-9.