Tuesday, June 03, 2008


The way I see it, you see the catcher initially put his glove up towards the path the ball took, i.e. he recognizes it as a fastball. Then you see an exaggerated dive down and away, as if to block a phantom curve ball. This supposedly provides the cover for the explanation, "I got crossed up". A pretty bad job of acting by the catcher. And given the details of the game leading up to that point, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that pitcher and catcher pulled the old "fiver" on the home plate umpire.

If the Georgia High School Association doesn't take some sort of action against the kids or the school, they are as gutless as the players. Although, if the two kids are seniors and theoretically this would be their last game played for the school, you wonder what they could do, other than sanction the coach and/or the school.

That's baseball.


Georgia High School Baseball
Pitch that struck ump prompts apology, probe
Stephens Co. coach says bizarre incident in AAA final was not intentional

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/02/08

Stephens County principal David Friend apologized Monday to the Georgia High School Association for an incident in the Class AAA baseball championship series Saturday in which Stephens County catcher Matt Hill ducked and allowed a pitch from Cody Martin to strike an umpire in the face mask.

"[The tape] looks bad, and most people who look at it come away with that conclusion," Friend said. "But there have been whacky things that have happened in baseball and high schools, and all I'm going to conclude is that it does need to be investigated. If we're found to be at fault, we'll effectively deal with the situation."

Friend said he interviewed his baseball coaches Monday and concluded they were not to blame. Friend said he had not finished talking with players.

But Stephens County coach Mark Gosnell said it was a mixup between his catcher and pitcher.

"Matt said he had a curveball, and Cody said it was a fastball," Gosnell said. "[Hill and Martin] have been as honest as anyone since I've known them."

The incident occurred in the bottom of the fourth inning with Cartersville leading 9-1 in a game it won 13-1. It was the third and deciding game of the three-game series.

Stephens County shortstop Ethan Martin, the brother of the pitcher and projected as a possible first-round pick in the major league draft Thursday, was called out on strikes for the final out of the previous inning. He was the ninth consecutive Stephens County batter to strike out, and he argued with the home-plate umpire afterward, throwing his batting helmet.

In the bottom of the inning, Cartersville's second batter, Taylor Hightower, was facing an 0-1 count when Hill, the catcher, ducked and dropped to his knees as Cody Martin's pitch approached.

The ball bounced off the face mask of the umpire, Jeff Scott, who was not injured, and rolled toward third base.

A video of the pitch was posted on AJC.com Sunday on Kurt Aschermann's "Hardball" high school baseball blog.

Scott Singer, hired by Cartersville to tape and do play-by-play of the game, was behind home plate during the pitch. He said the Martin brothers had complained of calls before the pitch hit the umpire.

"Those two, the pitcher and his brother, the entire game had been riding the umpire about balls and strikes, and [Ethan Martin] got rung up in the top of the fourth, so [perhaps] that was payback in the bottom of the fourth," Singer said. "I don't know what was going through their heads, but when you see a catcher go to his right, it's like 'Good God!'"

Terry Martin, the father of Ethan and Cody Martin, a junior, said he was advised not to allow his sons talk to the Journal-Constitution. He would not elaborate. Hill, a senior who has signed to play at Gordon College in Barnesville, could not be reached.

GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin acknowledged Friend's apology Monday and said the association will act when Stephens County's investigation is complete. Swearngin said the GHSA associate director Dennis Payne attended the game and would have initiated a probe if Stephens County had not called first.

"My main concern is that we had a great season, and it's unfortunate that one pitch has become the focal point, instead of what the team accomplished," Friend said. "It doesn't look good from what I've seen, but at the same time, sometimes you have lapses in judgment, and a community and a high school and a baseball program should not be judged by one pitch."
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