Halfway wins on appeal

July 14, 1999|By DAN KAUFFMAN

West End fans irate after tying homer disallowed in All-Star quarterfinals

HALFWAY - Followers of West End Little League's All-Stars celebrated in the bottom of the sixth inning.

And then they strongly protested a controversial call.

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Matt Murray led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo homer as West End tied Halfway, 9-9.

But on appeal, the first base umpire ruled Murray missed first base after celebrating with a teammate, and called Murray out.

West End manager Al Poffenberger was thrown out after arguing the call, and Halfway retired the last two batters to take a 9-8 victory in the quarterfinals of the District 1 Little League tournament at Joseph E. Widmyer Field in Marty Snook Park.


"I've been coaching and playing for 27 years," Poffenberger said, "and I've never seen this, especially in a big game like this. I watched him hit the base, there's nothing more I can really say about it."

Halfway manager Les Martin supported the call.

"It looked like the base coach over here, the boy looked like he grabbed (Murray) and was smacking him five ... and he just missed the bag. He missed it by a foot or better.

"The umpire was right there and told the kid he interfered with (Murray)," Martin said. "We appealed it, and that's what happened."

After Murray's homer was overruled, Martin told his team not to be distracted. "I told them, 'that's what they want to do, they want to get us in a conflict, that's what they pry on.' You want to go to the next step, you've got to keep your composure."

David Warrenfeltz got a strikeout and a groundout to close the game for Halfway.

The loss left a bitter taste in Poffenberger's mouth. "The umpire made the call, there's nothing we can do about it. At this point we have to live with it."

Halfway took control of the game in the first, when Devon Vinci hit a grand slam after West End starter D.J. Lucas walked the first two batters and hit the third.

West End got two runs back in the bottom of the inning, as Mike Shifler hit a leadoff homer and Chris Bumbaugh drove in Jonathan Brahl with a single.

Vinci added a two-run shot in his next at-bat in the second to give Halfway a 6-2 edge.

"He's powerful, he's real strong," Martin said. "A lot of people don't really know him that well, but he's a good, good ballplayer."

West End fought back with a run in the second and two in the third. Kent Worthington's RBI single drove in Bumbaugh and made the score 6-5.

"I told these kids ... I said '(West End) won't quit. If they're down by 20, they're gonna battle back, there's no quit in this team,'" Martin said.

Nick Adenhart hit a solo homer in the fourth to give Halfway a 7-5 edge. But after a Halfway error and a Trevor Cobb single in the fifth, Worthington hit a three-run homer to give West End its first and only lead of the game, 8-7.

"We have 11-year-olds that can come in and contribute like that, you can't expect anything more," Poffenberger said of Worthington.

West End relief pitcher Chris Grove started the sixth by walking the first two batters, and a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third. Adenhart again came through, hitting a two-run single as Halfway regained the lead, 9-8.

"(Vinci and Adenhart) have been doing it all year in league play," Martin said. "We need players like that to step up, and ... keep our momentum going."

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