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Rain rulings a real head-scratcher

April 07, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

The thunderstorms that swept across Washington County on Monday evening led to a pair of baseball games being stopped in the sixth inning. However, vastly different rulings at the two games have caused plenty of head-scratching.

At Clear Spring, the Blazers led South Hagerstown 4-2 after five innings. The Rebels scored three runs in the top of the sixth and were still batting with one out when the rain halted play.

When it became clear the game would not be able to be finished, the contest was ruled a five-inning complete game, with the sixth inning wiped out because both teams did not have an equal number of at-bats. This ruling is consistent with the National Federation of State High School Associations rulebook (Rule 4, Section 2, Article 3), under which all Maryland public schools play.

At Boonsboro, the Warriors led Williamsport 3-0 after five innings. The Wildcats scored six runs in the top of the sixth inning to take the lead, and Boonsboro was batting with one out in the bottom half when the storms stopped play.

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This time, however, the umpires and coaches got together, and the final ruling was that the game would be completed when the two teams play at Williamsport on April 24.

According to Fred Kreiger, a North Hagerstown assistant coach and former Boonsboro head coach who is a member of the MPSSAA state baseball committee, rules interpreter Tom O'Hara told him that in Maryland, if the visiting team takes the lead in the top half of an inning and the inning is not completed, the game is suspended (to be completed at a later date), because the state does not want to take runs away from a team.

The NFHS rulebook does permit each state to implement its own procedures for the completion of games. However, the MPSSAA baseball bulletin does not specifically address cases in which a visiting team that trails after the fifth inning takes the lead in the top of of a later inning before the game is halted in that same inning due to rain or darkness.

As it stands right now, the rulings made at Clear Spring and Boonsboro on Monday both still stand. According to Kreiger, the state committee meets next on April 19, where this issue could be addressed.

Games to watch this week


Baseball

No. 7 Hedgesville (6-4) at No. 3 Jefferson (6-1), today - The Eagles get their first crack at their Eastern Panhandle rivals, currently ranked first in West Virginia Class AAA. The Cougars won both meetings last year.

Hedgesville at Musselman (6-4), Monday - The Eagles won the first meeting 9-4 on Tuesday; the Applemen look to return the favor at home.

No. 4 Martinsburg (8-1) at Jefferson, Tuesday - By now, one probably gets the point: Any matchup between Eastern Panhandle schools is going to be a good one this season. This may be the best matchup of them all.

Catoctin (4-2) at North Hagerstown (3-2), Wednesday - This is a solid matchup between two teams expected to battle at or near the top of the MVAL Antietam standings.

No. 5 Mercersburg Academy (4-2) at Jefferson - The Cougars' third game in five days against a Herald-Mail Super 7 opponent comes at home against the Blue Storm, who handed Martinsburg its only loss so far.

Greencastle (1-2) at James Buchanan (2-3), Thursday - Throw out the records in this one; the atmosphere when these two rivals meet on the diamond is usually pretty tense.

Martinsburg at Mercersburg Academy, Thursday - Speaking of the Bulldogs' only loss, here's their chance to get some revenge.

Softball

Hedgesville (7-5) at No. 3 Musselman (10-1), today - The season's first meeting between these Eastern Panhandle teams should be a close, low-scoring affair. The Applemen have three pitchers (Jillian Shawyer, Megan Holmes, Faline Brown) with ERAs under 1.30; the Eagles could send Jessica Shirley and her 1.00 ERA to the circle.

No. 6 Southern Fulton (4-0) at No. 5 Berkeley Springs (10-6), Monday - Southern Fulton is off to a 4-0 start, but will be taking a big step up in the level of competition in this one.

James Buchanan (2-3) at No. 3 Greencastle (4-1), Thursday - In order for the Rockets to pull the upset against their rivals, they're going to have to find a way to manufacture runs against Blue Devils ace Sarah Signore.

Early-season stars


A look at a couple players who have been brilliant in the season's opening weeks:

Brian Collins, Jefferson - What else would one expect from the 2005 Herald-Mail Player of the Year? Collins is hitting .532 (13-for-24) with four doubles and 12 RBI, and is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA on the mound, allowing 10 hits in 16 2/3 innings while striking out 22.

Mark Darlington, Musselman - At the plate and on the mound, he's been spectacular. He's hitting .462 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 10 games, and is 2-1 with a 0.95 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings.

Ryan Chaney, Waynesboro - Sure, he's only had 11 at-bats in the Indians' four games, but he's made them count, with six of his seven hits going for extra bases (three doubles, one triple, two homers).

Amanda Waltman, Berkeley Springs - She's hitting for average (30 hits in 58 at-bats, .517), for power (six doubles, three homers) and in clutch situations (16 RBI), and she can dominate opponents in the circle as well, going 5-2 with a 1.40 ERA, allowing 30 hits and striking out 55 in 45 innings.

Kelly Beard, Williamsport - She's playing like anything but a freshman for the Wildcats, hitting .500 (12-for-24) with four doubles and a triple, and going 2-1 with a 1.94 ERA in the circle, allowing 12 hits and striking out 20 in 18 innings.

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