Sports

Falcon baseball game turns on umpire's call

In a pitchers' duel between two of the best in the North Cascades Conference, a seventh-inning foul ball that appeared fair to an umpire spoiled a perfect day of baseball.

Under a gray sky that spit droplets all afternoon but never really let loose, the South Whidbey Falcons watched a tie game slip away in the worst way, but to the best team in the conference. The 8-3 Falcons lost a 6-3 home contest to the Nooksack Valley Pioneers, who came into the game undefeated in conference play.

The loss comes after a record-setting, seven-game winning streak. With that in their back pockets and Bryan Wenker on the pitcher's mound, the Falcons gave themselves the best chance they were going to get in what turned out to be a game of equals. Coming into the game with a 0.57 ERA, Wenker seemed unbeatable. And indeed he was, almost, through the first six innings. He allowed single runs in the first and fourth innings to keep his team within striking distance.

But in the top of the seventh, Wenker was in trouble. With the bases loaded, he delivered a pitch that seemed to go foul. While coaches on both teams agreed to that, the umpire did not. Two of four runners to score in the inning crossed the plate, making the Falcons' task more difficult.

And they did threaten in their last turn at bat. After scoring one run, the Falcons got two base runners on and brought the tying run to the plate. But that was as far as it would go. Nooksack's relief pitching was too good and retired the side before South Whidbey could do any more damage.

Falcon Coach Dave Guetlin said he would have preferred to see the game progress without the misjudged foul.

"To have it decided on a call like that is sad," he said.

The Falcons get another shot at the Pioneers today when they travel to Nooksack Valley High School.

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