Darkness denies F.O.P. All-Stars third win at State Tournament
By By RYAN WALLACE / Special to Niles Daily Star
JACKSON -- It seems the only thing that could put a stop the Niles F.O.P. Little League 10-year-old All-Stars was darkness.
In its two previous state tournament games in Jackson, Niles had trailed in the latter innings only to come back and win on both occasions. On Monday night, the team rallied from a six-run deficit against Grosse Pointe Woods American All-Stars to take a two-run lead in the top of the sixth inning.
But instead of holding on for the victory, Niles was dealt a 6-4 loss because the game was called due to darkness.
District 3 administrator Bruce Barton, who is also the tournament director, got the official ruling from a tournament committee in Williamsport, Pa., and had to the pass the news on to Niles, as well as the Marysville Little League team, which was in a similar situation.
Marysville took a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth inning but ended up with a 7-5 loss to South Portage.
Barton said an official game is counted after four innings and, if the game is called because of darkness and a winner can be determined, the score reverts to the last completed inning.
Barton said the reason for the rule is to keep tournament games moving, and since both games fit the criteria, the decision was made.
Niles coach Marcus Lucero was disappointed with the decision, especially after having to tell his players that they had lost the game.
Lucero said he plans on filing a protest because the game did not start until after 7 p.m. It was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. The reason the games could be completed is because they would be held at another site, said Lucero, who was told that by the tournament committee.
Niles scored four runs in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 6-4. Dustin Wright had an RBI single and David Garner had and RBI double in the inning.
Wright delivered again in the sixth inning with a shot down the third base line to score Derek Kardisco. Niles tied the game at 6-6 when Evan Zimmerman scored on a wild pitch and took the lead when Wright scored on an error by Grosse Pointe's first baseman.
Niles tacked on an extra run in the top of the sixth inning when Kelvin Tweedy scored on an error by the shortstop, which left Dustan Craig at first with two outs. That's when the umpires stopped the game and began discussing the rule.
Lucero said even though the outcome was not favorable, he was pleased that the kids never gave up.
Niles will return to action at 6 p.m. Wednesday against Marysville in the loser's bracket.