BASEBALL: Upon further review, rivalry business between LH & Sheehan is unfinished

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WALLINGFORD — Sheehan’s 12-10 come-from-behind baseball victory over Lyman Hall on Wednesday night at Pat Wall Field was erased from the books as a protest made by the Trojans over a balk call in the fourth inning was upheld on Thursday.

The teams will return to Pat Wall next Tuesday and resume play in the top of the fourth inning with Lyman Hall leading, 4-2, and with Sheehan runners on second and third with one out and a 1-0 count on Anthony MarkAnthony.

That’s when the balk was called Wednesday night on LH pitcher Dylan Gay. The call was overturned Thursday morning, nullifying Sheehan’s win.

D.J. Nadeau, rules interpreter for the Greater New Haven Baseball Umpires Association, ruled that the umpires’ call was misapplied.

“The misapplication of the ability to feint to third base with a runner on third,” Nadeau informed SCC Commissioner Al Carbone and SCC Baseball Chairperson and West Haven Athletic Director Mike Anquillare, along with the two Wallingford athletic directors.

A league committee consisting of Carbone, Anquillare and Foran Athletic Director Anthony Vitelli then unanimously affirmed the protest, agreeing the disputed call did have a direct impact on the game, according to a press release sent out by the SCC on Thursday.

“Our bylaws stipulate the only way you can protest a game is when an official makes an misapplication of the rules,” Carbone elaborated in an interview. “You can’t protest a judgment call.

“We’ve had other instances in our league where we’ve had misapplications of the rules, but this was the first time we’ve had a protest since the pitch-count rules have come into affect. That throws in other variables.”

CIAC pitch count rules will be applied when the game is resumed. The pitch count is based on legal pitches thrown in a game/day and the corresponding day(s) of required rest or pitching to an additional batter(s) once they have reached the maximum pitch limitation.

That was one of the biggest gripes from Sheehan coach Dom Lombardozzi.

“I respect the idea of protest,” Lombardozzi said. “But with pitch counts, this has impacted us for the next week with our pitching.

“I’m hoping something gets changed in the future. I’m hoping in the future protests will be heard on the spot so we don’t have to deal with situations that we are dealing with right now. They determined it impacted the game. I find that hard to believe that it did. They were winning the entire game and were up five runs going into the seventh inning. That’s a hard sell. This happened a long time after the call.”

Carbone said the game was impacted and the balk affected the rest of the game.

“That call affects the next pitch and the strategy going forward,” Carbone said. “It’s like missing an easy popup in foul territory. The game was impacted. How was it impacted? Because that balk should have never happened. It changes the strategy moving forward.”

The Titans eventually erased a 10-5 deficit with a seven-run seventh inning.

“It looked odd,” Lombardozzi said of the controversial balk play. “You scratch your head and said something was off here. The umpires got together and said it had to be a balk.

“I respect the process, but the process moving forward has to be improved,” Lombardozzi added. “We still had to go out and fight and win that game. All of the pressure was on us. If they won the game, the protest would have gone away. Now that they lost, they get a re-do. With the pitch counts, I lost two of my pitchers from last night, and for what reason? It put us in a bad situation.”

Although the Titans got a gut punch this morning upon finding out the news, Lombardozzi will take some solace that Carbone and the SCC are working towards a more immediate protest for baseball and softball in the future.

“Some positives can come out of this. We had a league meeting today and we are going to change procedures around protests,” Carbone said. “We want to get a ruling in real time because both teams played three-plus more innings and pitchers were used. We have to change our procedure.”

One of the scenarios being talked about is calling the rules interpreter immediately on the field with a phone call.

“It may cause a delay and with a quick FaceTime call on the field so we can get an immediate ruling,” Carbone said. “I think that’s what’s going to come out of this. The important thing is that we get the call right.”

This isn’t the first time a protest was considered during a Lyman Hall game this season. LH coach Billy Rich contested a similar balk call on one of his pitchers in a game against Cheshire at Pat Wall on April 20. Instead of playing the game under protest, Cheshire coach Mike Lussier agreed with Rich and the call was changed on the field, and the game returned to normal play.

“It was the wrong call and it should have never been called,” Rich said of the balk call against Sheehan on Wednesday night. “Knowing the rule, I put the game under protest under a rules challenge. We played it under protest.

“I wasn’t surprised it was upheld,” Rich added. “Umpiring is a very difficult thing. Anyone who has done it knows it. I give all of the credit to the umps. I protested and they documented everything After that it was just a waiting game.

“I know the rule. We discussed it in the SCC meetings. I just wanted the correct call to be made. I just wish it could have been done during the game.”

The protest erased another thrilling come-from-behind win for Sheehan, a team that has made a habit of winning games late. In their first meeting this season with Lyman Hall on April 18 at Neubauer Field, the Titans erased a 7-1 deficit with seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to win 8-7.

“The guys are going to be focused and want to show they can do it again,” Lombardozzi said of next Tuesday’s continuation.

Rich said the Trojans are feeling good about Thursday morning’s call.

“The kids seemed really excited about the decision to resume the game,” Rich said. “There was certainly some energy and excitement today.”

Lyman Hall is 9-6 and Sheehan is 9-5. Both teams play on Friday, Lyman Hall at Cheshire and Sheehan against Notre Dame-West Haven at Quigley Stadium.

“Protests are always hard,” Lyman Hall AD Steve Baker said. “It’s a difficult situation. Baseball and softball are weird that way. We protested it and too bad it couldn’t be resolved right away, not only because of the pitching, but because of trying to get buses for the rescheduled game … It’s just a tough situation for everyone.”

Sheehan AD Chris Dailey said he got the news early Thursday morning. He felt much like Lombardozzi.

“I was surprised as I did not feel that the play had an impact on the result of the game, but we also have a great respect for the integrity of baseball and the rules, and the SCC rules, and understand the decision,” Dailey said. “It does not take away from how proud we are of our team for battling back in front of a great crowd on a great night. With COVID, these kids waited three years for "Pink Night."

“I stood with some recent alumni during the game last night who talked about how bummed they were for missing out on the opportunity. Last night was all about our cancer benefit game and being able to showcase Wallingford baseball talent on a big stage, and we succeeded on both causes. Nothing will take that away from that. I'm very proud of our team.  We've battled adversity all season the right way and this is an opportunity to show we can do that again.”

The time for Tuesday’s continuation has not been decided as of Thursday evening.


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