Lithuanian umpire adventure Day 8

It was a final game to end all final games – a pitching duel, followed by a late-game rally in the bottom of the last inning to tie, and a walk-off, two-out steal of home to win it in the 9th.
This is the way tournament championship games are SUPPOSED to be, but rarely are.

I’m only disappointed that it was the Czechs, and not Utena, that prevailed 5-4. I say that for three reasons – the son of one of our closest friends in Lithuanua, Eel Man, plays for Utena; Tomas Kviklys, the Utena coach, is one of the hardest-working people we’ve met in this country, and the Czechs have the player everyone dispises, Marik Vykoukal (see Day 7).

Alas, Tomas’ team scored three runs in the first inning and led 4-1 going to the 7th, but Eel Man’s son gave up the tying runs, and then Marik, of all people, stole home to win it in the 9th.

The game was filled with numerous tense moments.

We gave the plate to a relative newcomer, Zilvinas Bareinke. And he did a fine job. In retrospect, a more senior umpire might have handled a few situations better, but Z-Man’s trial by fire was hardly a bust.

 
 

The first “uh-oh” came when Z-Man told the Czech catcher that he called a pitch a ball because the catcher had moved his glove after catching the pitch. That led to the Czech manager coming out to discuss balls and strikes, and led first base ump Bobby Gumbs to come down and break up the discussion.

Then came a discussion with the Utena coaches about a play at second base where Eel Man’s son took out the Czech second baseman on a steal attempt. The Czech player lay injured and the ball was loose and in center field. Z-Man called time, echoing second base ump Sam Griffith’s call, but the Utena coaches felt that call was premature and kept the runner, who was also on the ground, from advancing to third.
There was also discussion with both coaches about a Czech player squaring to bunt and getting hit in the hand while bunting the ball into fair territory. Czech coaches wanted hit by pitch, Utena coaches wanted a fair ball and an out, but umpires ruled correctly that the ball had been bunted off the batter’s leg and into fair territory and was merely a foul ball.

Later, Czech coaches wanted to know why umpires let Utena’s starting pitcher go over the 95-pitch limit, and they weren’t happy with the answer that under Little League rules a pitcher can finish that batter, but pitch to no others.

He insisted upon seeing that rule in the book, so as the co-tournament director and UIC, I showed him as the game continued. After the game, my last LL game this year, I gave him the rulebook. “I’m going to read this before I see you next year,” he said.

Oh, and how could I forget the Czech batter and coaches having a cow because they felt a balk should have been called when the Utena pitcher stopped just short of throwing a pitch? Z-Man had called time, albeit quietly, because the Czech hitter had requested it, and the Utena pitcher, seeing that, stopped.

So there was angst, drama, stoppages, frustration on both sides, the worst heat and humidity of the week, and the best game. It all added up to a memorable title game, and discussion about Sporto Vilkai Cup 2009.

LADERA RANCH beat Belarus 9-4 in the 3rd place game and then gave the Bellarussians all their jerseys and equipment before heading to the airport to fly home Saturday night.

AWARDS: Michael Janko of the Czech Republic was MVP after batting .600 with 8 RBI, and having both a good ERA and fielding percentage…Nick Pufpaf from Ladera was the top pitcher with a 0.00 ERA and only 4 hits allowed over 7. Innings…Sam Hunter of Ladera hit .653 with 8 RBI to win the batting title…Utena shortstop Evaldas Sinkunas won defensive honors for going errorless over 20 plays.

SUNDAY, we’ll go back to Vilnius and umpire the 20-over game between the Vilnius Vikings and Kaunas Lithuanians.

I’M OUT!!!

 

 

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