Judgment Call Overturned In Georgia High School Playoffs

Johns Creek (Ga.) High won, lost and now has won again in a Georgia state playoff baseball game that has stirred up plenty of strong feelings on all sides.

The wild ending and even wilder off-field appeal process has ended up seeing the result of a playoff series overturned as the state’s high school association has overturned a judgement call made by the game’s umpires.

The first part of this story is unconventional, but conventional compared to everything else in this story. Lee County (Leesburg, Ga.) and Johns Creek were tied 3-3 with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh of the second game of a 6A state playoff best-of-three series.

With the game on the line, the batter took ball four for a walk and the winning RBI. The runner from third, who was running with the pitch, stepped on home soon after the ball crossed the plate, everyone else moved up and a massive celebration broke out as Johns Creek celebrated its series-tying win, which would force a deciding Game Three.

But before the field even cleared, Lee County appealed to the umpires, saying that the runner going from second to third never touched third before joining the celebration. The umpires granted the Lee County appeal, making for the inning’s third out.

Now (very grainy) video evidence may indicate that the runner from second did touch third base. But GHSA rules prohibit the use of video replay in making a decision (or appealing the decision).

Johns Creek appealed the ruling to the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) executive director, who denied the appeal. But in their second and final appeal, the GHSA board of trustees approved the appeal in a 5-2 vote.

“Normally I would support our baseball officials, and I’ve done that for years, but in this situation after listening to both Johns Creek and Lee County and their administrators and coaches, and then the summary from the GHSA office, it swayed me to believe that the wrong call was made and that it was not in the best interest of students to support that call,” White told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ”The bottom line is what’s right and what’s wrong, and I thought it was right for Johns Creek to go back to Lee County and play a third game.’’

With the appeal granted, Johns Creek was declared the winner of the game, forcing a deciding Game Three between Johns Creek and Lee County that will be played Friday–rain forced the game to be moved from Wednesday.

What makes this ruling highly unusual is that the GHSA said they are overturning a judgment call.

‘’It’s just not practical to review every missed call and every kid that was (called) safe but was actually out,’’ White told the AJC. ‘’We have set a precedent, so we need to get ready because there will probably be other people coming to see us.’’

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