By Jack Davis
After a 3-5 start in league play, a three-game losing streak in the final two weeks of the season ended the boysâ varsity baseball teamâs hopes of making the playoffs. The losing streak began in a key match against rival Loyola in which Head Coach Matt LaCour was forcibly restrained and ejected after a controversial call cost the Wolverines the potential tying run.
Heading into a two-game league series with Loyola, the squad was coming off a key 7-5 victory over Crespi that gave them a 3-5 overall record in league.
At the time, Loyolaâs league record was 4-4 and it was in fourth place in the six team Mission League, the last spot where a team can qualify for playoffs.
Had the Wolverines swept the series with Loyola, they would have almost assuredly guaranteed themselves a playoff spot, as they would have taken a one-game lead in the standings with Loyola for the final playoff spot and owned the tiebreaker over Loyola.
In the first game of the series at Loyola High School, the Cubs jumped out to an early 2-1 lead with consecutive doubles in the third inning.
However in the fifth, the Wolverines loaded the bases with only one out, and sent up preseason All-American Austin Wilson â10.
Wilson had been walked in almost every situation with men on base, but since the bases were loaded, Loyola was forced to pitch to him.
Wilson lined the first pitch he saw deep into left field, but was robbed of a potential extra base hit that would have given the Wolverines the lead when Loyola left fielder Kevin Grove made a diving catch.
Despite Groveâs amazing play, second baseman Justin Genter â10 tagged up from third and scored on the play to tie the score 2-2.
However, Loyola appealed the call, saying that Genter had left third base early. The three umpires on the field adjourned and decided Genter had left third base early, and called him out at third.
“It was the most ridiculous call I have ever seen in my life playing baseball,” catcher Andrew Shanfeld â10 said.
“There was no reason he would have left third base early,” he said. “It was a diving catch and there wasnât even a play at home plate. Itâs not like they were even trying to get him out at home, there was no play at the plate. The umpires didnât even see the play.”
LaCour sprinted out of the dugout to protest the call, but to no avail. LaCour was ejected and had to be restrained and escorted off the field.
“It was crazy,” Wilson said. “Iâm heading back into the dugout excited because we just tied the game, then all of a sudden I look back onto the field and theyâre celebrating and walking off the field.”
Instead of being tied 2-2 with runners on first and second and Shanfeld coming up to the plate, the Wolverines ended the fifth down 2-1.
They would never have a scoring opportunity as good as that one, going on to lose the game 5-2.
The loss put the Wolverines into a huge hole in the overall league standings, and any small playoffs hopes they still had were crushed three days later when they lost again to Loyola, 2-1.
The following week, the Wolverines lost their last home game to Chaminade 9-5, before regrouping for a purely emotional 6-5 victory over Chaminade to end the season.
“Iâm disappointed that we didnât make the playoffs, obviously,” Wilson said. “But we have lots of young talent on this team, and we just have to improve next year.”