Dover’s baseball season ended Friday afternoon when Dylan Walker struck out to end a 5-2 defeat to Shidler in a Class B regional consolation game in Drummond.
It ended the same way thousands and thousands of games before it had ended…only it didn’t.
Walker was at the plate in the same situation for the second time in 18 hours. The first time around - on Thursday - he walked to load the bases.
Shidler went on to win that game, 5-2, as well…only it didn’t.
I’ll try to clear it up.
As you can deduce, Shidler and Dover were in a loser’s bracket game in their regional.
Shidler lost 5-1 to Glencoe in its regional opener earlier on Thursday. Dover was defeated 10-0 by Drummond.
Shidler took its 5-2 lead into the top of the seventh inning. With two outs and Dover runners on fist and second, coach Cameron Kirk (not this guy) called on Tyler Kuykendall to close the game.
No big deal…only it was.
Kuykendall had thrown 98 pitches in Shidler’s loss to Glencoe, according to Dover coach Nathan Nance.
According to OSSAA rules, “No pitcher that exceeds 75 pitches in the first game of a day shall appear as a pitcher in any subsequent game that same day.”
Nance said Kirk realized his error as Kuykendall was warming up and attempted to pull him from the game before he delivered a pitch.
However, according to Nance, the umpire told Kirk that once a pitcher starts to warm up, he must face a batter.
The at-bat actually becomes live once the pitcher puts his foot on the rubber.
Kuykendall was forced to do that. He walked Walker to load the bases, but then struck out Brandon Williams to end the game at 5-2.
But, since Kuykendall was ineligible to pitch, Nance protested the game to the OSSAA. According to the organization’s rule, “The use of an ineligible pitcher, one who has violated this rule, shall result in the forfeiture of the game in which the ineligible pitcher participated as a pitcher and a one game suspension for the head coach.”
Dover was chalking the game up to a 7-0 win, the score in a forfeit.
The Longhorns thought they were going on to face Glencoe in another elimination game on Friday.
Then they got the call from Todd Dilbeck, the OSSAA staffer in charge of baseball at that level.
Once Dilbeck received all of the information, he overturned the forfeit.
“He was forced to put the kid on the mound and he should never have been forced to,” Dilbeck said. “There was a misinterpretation by the umpire and we felt we made it right.”
By making it right, Dilbeck ruled for the game to resume in the same situation that Kuykendall entered it on Thursday…only at 3:30 p.m. Friday:
Dover was down 5-2 with two outs and runners on first and second.
This time D.L. Carl took the mound to face Walker. He struck him out in four pitches to end the game.
Both teams made the trip for four pitches to end a game that started a 6 p.m. the day before.
“It was the shortest and longest game I’ve ever been a part of,” Nance said.
Nance was realistic about Dover’s chances of winning the regional. The Longhorns would have needed to beat Glencoe once and then Drummond twice.
Probably wasn’t happening. However, had Dover been able to reach the regional title game, it would have finished at 17-17. That’s after having won a combined 10 games in the fall and last spring.
“That would be a huge turnaround,” Nance said. “It still is, but that would have been nice.”
A natural comparison - or maybe not so much - is to the Douglass-Locust Grove playoff game in 2014.
In that game, Douglass scored a late touchdown to take the lead on Locust Grove.
A flag was thrown during the play for a sideline infraction. Officials negated the touchdown and Locust Grove went on to win the game, 20-19, which was the score before Douglass found the end zone.
However, it was determined after the fact that the officials should have enforced the penalty on the play AFTER the touchdown, meaning the score should have counted, giving Douglass the lead.
Douglass, through Oklahoma City Public Schools, appealed the contest and it eventually landed in court. Though everyone from the judge in the case to the water boy for Douglass (basically everyone not from Locust Grove) knew the Trojans had been raked over the coals, they also all (basically everyone outside of Douglass) agreed you just couldn’t set the precedent of overturning a game or replaying the game due to official error (be it a judgment call or wrongful enforcement).
How’s that for a run-on sentence?
Dilbeck wasn’t with the OSSAA when that decision was handed down.
“But this isn’t that situation,” he said. “The difference is this was correctable at the time and once all the info was given to me at the time, we were able to make it right.”