So when is a game-winning walk not a game-winner?
Wednesday night at Lee County in the semifinals of the GHSA Class 6A baseball playoffs, Johns Creek found out the hard way that a walk with the bases loaded and the game ties in the bottom half of the final game doesn’t automatically end the game.
After losing the first game, Johns Creek was tied at 3 with Lee County in the bottom of the seventh. Johns Creek loaded the bases with two outs and the game tied.
The batter wound up taking ball four. He proceeded to first. The runner on third headed home and touched home plate, and the runner on first went to second.
The only question was, did the runner on second touch third?
Lee County claimed the runner heading to third never got to third before celebrating an apparent victory. Lee County appealed to the umpires, who had yet to leave the field, and the third out was granted and the game-winning run was taken off the scoreboard. Lee County went on to win in extra innings.
Johns Creek appealed the umpires’ decision to outgoing GHSA executive director Gary Phillips, who denied the appeal. But Johns Creek appealed Phillips’ decision, and Friday morning a GHSA appeals board met for an hour-and-a-half to hear out Johns Creek’s case. The board denied the Johns Creek appeal 3-1, and now the team is taking its case to the full GHSA Board of Trustees, which will hear the case at 10 a.m. on Monday.
GHSA rules generally preclude appeals of decisions made by umpires or other game officials, and video review of calls isn’t allowed. There is, however, a tradition in baseball that allows protests in the case of misapplication of rules.
Much of the controversy stems from a difference between the Official Rules of Baseball, the set of rules used by Major League Baseball, and the rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations, which is what the GHSA uses.
According to analysis done by closecallsports.com, Johns Creek would have a case under the Official Rules of Baseball, as those rules state that the only runners that matter in that situation are the batter and the lead runner. But NFHS rules do not contain that clause, meaning all four runners have to touch their bases in order for the run to count, according to the closecallsports.com article.