The Las Vegas Patriots defeated the Nevada A’s, 6-3, in an elimination game that was marred when tempers flared Tuesday night in the American Legion state baseball tournament at UNLV.
The game was called with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, when home plate umpire Bill Thomas ejected A’s pitcher Justin Griffith for hitting Tyler Williamson, and leaving the Arbor View-based team with just eight players.
According to American Legion baseball rules, which follow Major League Baseball guidelines, a team cannot finish a game with only eight available players. A’s manager Al Ramirez, who also was ejected, exhausted his lineup in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings when he used a total of five pinch hitters.
After the A’s cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, things became heated in the top the eighth when Liberty coach Todd Faranda admitted Williamson could be seen giving away signs from second base to his teammates at bat. When A’s shortstop Nicholas Cornman stepped in front of, and leaned into, Williamson to block his view, Williamson shoved the shortstop causing a brief stop in play.
“I did go over and apologize to Al, and told him we’re not about that,” Faranda said. “He was out of line … he was tipping signs and I told him he was doing it blatantly, and that’s not the way we do things. I called him in and told him at Liberty we’re not going to play bush-league baseball. It was just unfortunate that an American Legion state tournament game gets called.”
Thomas declined to comment other than saying he heard Ramirez direct Griffith to throw at Williamson, an accusation Ramirez emphatically denied, and that Faranda believes did not happen.
“No way, not at all, there’s no way I believe Al told any player to throw at a kid. I believe he lets his players play, I have a lot of respect for Al,” Faranda said. “I believe (Griffith) was upset, he was playing third previously in the game. I knew he was heated and they gave him the ball and he took it to the mound and it went from there.”
Dawson Beard fired 7⅔ innings and allowed just three runs on four hits and four walks while striking out eight to get the win for the Patriots (19-17).
“I had good command of my fastball tonight and getting first-pitch strikes, that’s the key to any outing, really,” Beard said. “And trusting my defense behind me. I know they can make plays for me, we’ve shown it in games past. Our team is always good at getting a lead and keeping a lead, especially when we have our defense working. Really, three or four runs is all we need.”
The Patriots erased a 1-0 deficit in the top of the third by plating three runs after three of their first four batters in the inning reached safely on singles. Beard doubled and scored in the sixth to give the Patriots a 4-1 lead.
Faranda declined to say how, but said Williamson would be disciplined for initiating the entire ordeal while at second base in the eighth inning.
“I felt the umpires let this game get out of hand at the start of the third inning when players from both teams began jawing at one another,” Ramirez said. “In the eighth inning it became more intense when one of their players physically shoved one of our players, and there was no ejection. That situation led to an unfortunate circumstance in the ninth inning. Todd apologized after the game, and the two of us spoke. But personally, I feel it was an unacceptable accusation by a veteran umpire and the game should not have ended that way.”
Ethan Safier led the Liberty-based team on offense by going 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Joseph Rush was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, and Beard helped his own cause by going 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored.
Cornman was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI to lead the A’s (10-12-1).
Las Vegas Aces 15, Las Vegas Bulldogs 5 — Jason Sharman went 4-for-5 with four runs as the defending champion Aces (32-8) used an 18-hit attack to stay undefeated.
Parker Schmidt was 3-for-5 with three runs and four RBIs, and Brett Brocoff went 3-for-5 with three runs and three RBIs for the Aces (Desert Oasis).
Chaison Miklich was 2-for-3 with a double and five RBIs, and teammate Israel Gutierrez was 3-for-4 with two runs for the Aces.
Kian Wilbur led the Bulldogs (24-12), going 3-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Brian Benoit was 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI for the Centennial-based team.