If the Northwestern - Fort Mill baseball game played last Friday seemed like it would never end, well, that’s because it hasn’t.
In fact it just got longer... by a week, and at least one more inning. The Yellow Jackets and Trojans had each scored a run in the seventh inning and went into extra innings tied at 1, where Northwestern won in the bottom of the ninth, 2-1.
But according to Fort Mill Coach Brad Mercer there was a disagreement in the top of the ninth after the Trojans had re-entered their first pitcher of the night back into the game for the designated hitter in the bottom of the eighth. Fort Mill felt this made Northwestern’s second pitcher ineligible to pitch in the top of the ninth. Mercer said he, the umpire, and Northwestern Coach Mitch Walters were unable to reach a consensus on the substitution prompting Fort Mill to file a formal protest.
The South Carolina High School League rule (from page 62 of the handbook) that applies to a protest reads: “When a protest is filed, the offended team must enter it at the time of the play and before the next pitch. The umpire in chief shall report the protest to the League Office along with all related conditions at the time of the protested play. If a protest is upheld the game will be replayed from the time of the protest.”
There was no confrontation but Mercer entered the protest before the start of the inning and the High School League later ruled in Fort Mill’s favor.
In the original contest, the Trojans won in the bottom of the ninth when Josh Crump’s two-out base hit brought home Drew Patrick with the deciding run. The game will be resumed next Monday at 6 at Northwestern in the top of the ninth and Fort Mill batting, with the score tied 1-1. The game does not affect Northwestern besides maintaining their perfect Region 3-AAAA mark, as the Trojans have already won the region and clinched the number one seed in next week’s district playoffs. Walters did not return calls left seeking comment.
The result could have a huge effect on the Yellow Jackets’ playoff prospects. They are fighting for a playoff spot and still have three games this week, and now the Northwestern game to play, in their battle for that spot. A win over the highly-ranked Trojans would earn them more points in the race for the playoffs. The teams have split two games this season, with Northwestern winning the first game at Fort Mill 1-0 and the Yellow Jackets handing the Trojans their first lost of the season in the championship game of the Wheels Invitational at Northwestern. The contest next Monday will conclude both teams’ regular season.