By Judah Brody
Edited By Bill Woodbridge
Umpires blow calls all the time, right? It's true, but this time it may have cost Dos Pueblos their game, and possibly their season. In the top of the 8th, it was a 4-4 tie game in extra innings with two outs.
The Royals had runners Josh Swanson on 1st and Diego Sandoval on 2nd. SM’s Erik Larsen hits it, but the throw to chargers first baseman JJ Frausto was high, allowing him to reach first base. With the winning run Swanson racing home, Catcher Evan Steinberger attempts to block the plate, receives the throw from Frausto and applies the tag. In a controversial call, the umpire called Swanson safe. “I was safe at home”, said Swanson in an interview. “Definitely strikes and balls were...very inconsistent."
Steinberger tagging Swanson on the slide home
One problematic call may have decided Dos Pueblos’ season. A win would have kept DP just two games behind Santa Barbara for 1st place in channel league. Instead they are 3 games behind 1st with only 3 games left in the season.
After the call, Chargers head coach George Hedricks stormed the field to dispute the umpire’s call. Aggression between fans from both sides erupted. A bat was thrown towards a crowd of SM players in front of their dugout. DP Athletic Director Dan Feldhaus had to intervene at one point, issuing a warning to an SM fan who called for Hedricks to be thrown out of the game.
As the top of the 8th continued, SM’s Jack Winterbauer singled up the middle on a ground ball that barely missed shortstop Mason Boelter’s glove, scoring SM’s Sandoval and Larsen. The score was 7-4.
The Chargers ended the game by stranding two runners on the basepaths in bottom of the 8th. A common theme this year for the Chargers was missed opportunities, as they failed to play competitive baseball too many times. They lost two games against Santa Barbara after they won the league opener against them. They also went 1-2 against a last place San Marcos team.
Umpires are only human. The questionable home plate call could have gone either way, but this time it was extremely discouraging for the Chargers. DP Head Coach George Hedricks described, “The umpire believed he was correct and stuck with his call and that’s baseball. You don’t always agree with the calls, strike zones, or guys out at the plate… you move on and find a way to compete.”
1st base umpire calls JJ Frausto out a high throw to 1st base.
DP would have clinched a CIF playoff spot with a win on Friday. There is hope... they only need to win one out of their final three games to capture a place in the playoffs. The teams with the top three records in channel league will go to the playoffs. The Chargers have six 1st place finishes in the last seven years.
Dos Pueblos in 2nd looks to get back on track after a tough loss. They face the Santa Ynez Pirates and the Lompoc Braves twice each to close the season. You can watch all of the following games through DPNews for $10, with commentary by Judah Brody.
All games begin at 3:15pm
Correction 4/18/19: DP lost two games to SB. Schedule adjusted.
4/24/19: Schedule adjusted.
Articles I co-wrote with Barry Punzal, Noozhawk sports editor.