By BRIAN CUNNIFF
A protest by the Bridgeton High School baseball team surrounding a rules interpretation by the umpires in Tuesday’s game against Middle Township has been upheld by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the Middle Township athletic department has confirmed.
The game will be resumed from the point of the play in question.
Middle Township had originally won the wild eight-inning contest on Bridgeton’s home field, 22-20. The game took more than four hours to complete.
Controversy stemmed in the top of the seventh inning, however, when Middle Township inadvertently batted out of order while trailing by a run at 19-18. According to multiple sources, the umpires declared the improper batter to be out and that the proper batter could bat in his usual place after a discussion with both coaches. By rule, however, the proper batter should have been ruled out and the next proper batter should have gone to the plate to bat, which prompted Bridgeton to protest the umpires’ decision.
The Panthers subsequently scored a run following the incident in question and the game went to extra innings after Bridgeton failed to score in the bottom of the seventh. Middle went on to plate three runs in the top of the eighth inning to take a 22-19 lead. Bridgeton scored once in the bottom of the eighth.
According to the Middle Township athletic department, the NJSIAA has ruled that the game will resume prior to the teams’ next meeting with one another at Chuck Dougherty Field at the Clarence Davies Sports Complex in Cape May Court House on Tuesday, May 13. Play will commence with Middle at bat with one out and no runners on base in the top of the seventh inning and Bridgeton leading, 19-18.
Following the completion of that game, Bridgeton and Middle will play their regularly scheduled game.
Tuesday’s game was filled with crazy twists and turns. Middle had jumped out to 12-0 lead after the top of the first inning and still led 18-7 after 4 ½ innings. But Bridgeton roared back behind a ferocious rally, scoring nine times in the fifth and three times in the sixth to take its one-run lead heading into the final inning.
Ryan Gallagher went 4 for 5 with three doubles and three runs scored; Owen Hall was 3 for 4 with a double and three runs scored; Matt Racz homered, doubled and scored three times; and Ben Harris went 2 for 7 with a home run and three RBI for Middle in the suspended contest.