High School Team Hits a Snag in Celebrating Title

Championship game turns quickly after final out that wasn't
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2023 7:05 PM CDT
High School Team Hits a Snag in Celebrating Title

The players on a New York high school baseball team were reveling in their championship on Saturday, swarming their pitcher on the mound, when a few of their teammates noticed three runners circling the bases and scoring. That didn't seem right, since Hornell's pitcher had just struck out a Palmyra-Macedon batter for the final out of the state Section V Class B1 title game. The answer demonstrates that one of the most basic rules known to Americans, at least—three strikes and you're out—isn't ironclad. Hornell's catcher missed the last pitch, a curveball, and didn't throw to first base. While the catcher rushed the mound in celebration, the batter reached first safely, Sports Illustrated reports.

"Strike three!" the broadcast announcer shouted. "And he's out! Hornell wins it!" But as the Society for American Baseball Research explains, if first base is open or there are two outs, and the catcher drops the third strike, the batter becomes a live runner. To get him out at that point, the catcher has to tag the batter or throw him out at first base—a common situation. Hornell's catcher understood that, his coach told the Washington Post. The catcher tried to tag the batter, missed him, then started to throw to first. But he thought he saw the umpire signaled "out," Joe Flint said, so he put the ball in his pocket and headed for the mound.

The batter and two teammates already on base circled the celebrants and scored as a fan hollered, "There's two outs!" repeatedly. The broadcaster said, "Oh, wait a minute, Hornell’s got to pay attention." Twenty-five seconds after he struck out, the batter stepped on home plate, this time ending the game for real in a 6-5 victory and championship for Palmyra-Macedon. Hornell's coaches rushed to the umpires, but nothing changed. Flint told his players later that they'd receive advice to forget about the painful loss. Don't do that, he said, learn from it. "Sometimes, the worst days in life teach you the best lessons," he said. Speaking to his audience, the broadcaster said, "So is this the way it's going to end? Wow." The Post has a video here. (More high school baseball stories.)

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