On Tuesday afternoon the Independence Patriots traveled across town to
take on their arch rivals the Butler Bulldogs in a Southwestern 4A
Conference baseball game.
At game’s end the Bulldogs walked away with a 2-1 conference win that
came down to two controversial calls. One came in the bottom of the fifth
inning, and the other was in the top of the seventh inning.
The game was for the most part a defensive battle with both teams
going scoreless in the first two innings. However, in the top of the third
inning Brian Comer led off for the Patriots and drew a walk. Noah Howie
followed and was awarded first base after being hit by a pitch. Nate Brown
came to the plate, and he too drew a walk. With the bases loaded and no
outs, catcher Cooper Fandel stepped to the plate and hit a single to center
driving in Brian Comer for the first run of the game. Butler set down the
next three Indy batters ending the top of the inning with the Patriots leading
In the bottom half of the third Butler got a runner in scoring position with no
outs. Tate Pennington came to the plate and hit a grounder to third
baseman Matthew Mangum, who looked the runner back at second, and
threw Pennington out at first. On the throw Butler’s Zach McKinstry started
to third. After making the play at first, Indy’s Dylan Giorgio made the throw
back to third gunning down McKinstry for the double play. Butler managed
two more base runners before Seth Fernandez flied out to center ending
the third inning with Indy leading 1-0.
There was no more scoring until the bottom of the fifth inning. Tate
Pennington led off for the Bulldogs and reached on an error. Johnny
Hummel followed and received a walk. With two on and no outs, Michael
Stewart stepped up and bunted the ball back to the pitcher who made the
play at third throwing Pennington out leaving Hummel on second and Stewart
on first. Butler’s next batter flied out to center for the second out. Butler’s
next batter, Kyle Ziefert, was awarded first base after being hit by a pitch
loading the bases with two outs. Brent Moody stepped up for the Bulldogs and
hit a hard grounder in the gap between second and third. However, Indy’s third
baseman Matthew Magnum got over and fielded the ball. With the bases loaded
the runners had to advance on the play. Mangum tagged Butler’s Michael
Steward in the chest, as the two almost ran together, for what appeared to be the third and final out of the inning. However, the home plate umpire, who was
responsible for third base, did not got go down the base line to make the call. The base umpire, who was responsible for first base and was behind the play, ruled that Mangum missed the tag and the runner was safe which scored Hummel from third to tie the score 1-1.
Indy’s head coach Daniel Cooke called time out and spoke with both umpires who upheld their ruling that the runner was safe.
In the bottom of the sixth inning the Bulldogs first two hitters drew walks. With two on and one out Butler’s Johnny Hummel doubled to right center scoring Jared Birnberg to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh trailing by one, Indy had runners on second and third. Nate Brown hit a hard grounder to short who fielded the grounder and threw out Joey Granger at home. On the play Brian Comer went to third. Butler’s catcher attempted to throw him out but over threw the third baseman and the ball went into left field. Comer got up and headed home. Comer slid into home head first with both arms stretched out in from of him. When the throw arrived at home plate, Comer was tagged on the lower part of his body. It appeared that he had beat the throw and was safe at home. However, the umpire called him out ending the game and giving Butler a 2-1 conference win.