CLINTON — Both Clinton and Cedar Rapids Jefferson were trying to gain momentum as the regular season makes the turn for home. Ironically, a play at home plate in the seventh inning stirred controversy.
The River Kings (9-14-1) and J-Hawks (18-9-1) tied at 9-9 after seven innings once the drizzling rain turned into a downpour, causing play to be halted.
Austin Driscoll was rounding third base after Colin Nelson hit a ball into left field in the seventh inning. Jefferson’s left fielder, Mannie Olutunde, rifled the ball to catcher Ben Koering, who was playing at his third position of the game. He started the game at shortstop.
Koering was set up covering home plate, not giving Driscoll much of an angle to slide in to touch home, which would have been the winning run.
The ball beats Driscoll by two strides. Instead of trying to slide around the Jefferson catcher, Driscoll leaps over, hoping to avoid the tag. The umpire calls Driscoll out immediately.
“I sent him home hoping that with a wet ball, the throw would be off-target or something of that nature,” Clinton coach Kevin Cunningham said. “First tie ever as a coach or player; never had a game end in a tie.”
Now, once the play was over, Koering allegedly said a few choice words to Driscoll that prompted the two to shove one another and force some Jayhawks to come break-up the brouhaha, and some River Kings came out to protect Driscoll.
“To me, that call is on the umpires,” Cunningham said. “As I understand the rule, you’re not supposed to vacate your position just like in basketball, you’re not supposed to leave the bench. I knew I wasn’t going to win the argument.”
The ruckus lasted about three minutes, and while all of that, was going on, Nelson noticed timeout was not called and rounded the bases all the way to third base. After discussion from both head coaches and the umpiring crew, Nelson had to retreat to first base where he was credited with a single.