A hotly contested call by the plate umpire during the final inning of an American Legion baseball game Wednesday, broke league-leading Dayton's rally against A. J. Raveio. Dayton lost the game, 8-5.
The call that Dayton coach George Bickerton and the Dayton players protested during the game at Glenelg High involved a throw to the plate in which a Dayton runner was called out. Dayton had one out and runners at third and second base when Ryan McQueeny hit a grounder to diving Raveio first baseman Brian Brewer.
Brewer should have taken the sure out at first base, but he scrambled to his feet and threw home. The throw was high and catcher Rob Parsons reached up to snag it. As he did, Mike Fadrowski slid over the plate before Parsons could tag him.
"The umpire said that there was contact between the two before Fadrowski crossed home and that was all that was needed to call him out," Bickerton said. "Their catcher admitted he missed the tag.
"The catcher has to tag him with the ball on that play, he can't just touch him with his leg," Bickerton said.
Instead of trailing 8-6 with one out, Dayton players trailed 8-5 with runners at first and third and two outs. Dayton's final batter popped out to end the game.
It was one of Dayton's tougher defeats this season. Although Dayton is in the second half of its season, Wednesday's game was an important make-up contest that counted toward the first-half standings.
The Raiders are still atop the first-half standings of the North-Central District with a 6-3 record, but have three more make-up games to play before a champion is decided. They now lead Dewey Lowman and Dundalk by just one game. A key make-up game against Dewey Lowman is scheduled for July 18.
The first- and second-half winners meet to decide the North-Central title and the state tournament representative in a three-game playoff at the end of the regular season.
Dayton could have taken a forfeit victory earlier this season when Raveio was unable to field a full team on the previously scheduled game night. But Bickerton thought the game should be decided on the field and allowed it to be rescheduled to Wednesday.
Dayton, which has had just one day off since June 15, continued to show a never-say-quit attitude. The Raiders rallied for four runs to tie it 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth.
But Raveio, which has beaten Dayton four times straight over two seasons, scored four runs in the top of the seventh to go
And Dayton's seventh-inning rally produced only one run as the Raiders stranded two runners that inning.
Wasted was a four-run sixth inning that included a lead-off double by Brian Bickerton, a single by Fadrowski, an RBI-single by McQueeny, a two-run single by Nelson and a sacrifice fly by Dave Prestiani.
Bickerton and Eric Glenn each had three hits. Fadrowski had two. Those three have been Dayton's most consistent hitters this season.
Dayton banged out 10 hits, the same number as Raveio did against Dayton starter Bryan Egolf. Raveio had three extra-base hits to one for Dayton.
And Egolf walked four while Raveio starter Pat Parsons walked just one.
Raveio, defending North-Central District champion, is 5-5 in the first half.