LORAIN — No one really knew for sure if it was a foul tip or a swing and a miss, but it’ll be talked about all day today.
That call — or non-call — was the controversial difference for Lorain County on Saturday night in a 9-8 loss to Richmond in 11 innings.
The Ironmen staged an incredible comeback by scoring five times in the bottom of the eighth inning to grab a 7-6 lead. But the RiverRats tied it again in the top of the ninth when — with the bases loaded and two out — Richmond’s Jake Hand swung at an inside pitch. He either tipped it or it hit Lorain County catcher Ryan Cooper’s mitt and rolled far enough away to allow Michael Paez to score from third.
“You don’t like to see calls that directly impact games,” said Lorain County manager Joe Rhomberg. “At the same time, we were down early 6-2. We could have played better and we had a couple chances in extra innings. Bad call or not, you still have to play and execute after it.”
In the top of the 11th, Justin Paulsen’s two-run, no-doubt home run deep over the right-field fence gave the RiverRats the lead. Lorain County scored once in its half but left the tying run on third when Cooper struck out swinging.
Richmond improved to 6-10; Lorain County fell to 7-9.
“We had runners on first and third and we already scored one run,” Rhomberg said of the bottom of the 11th. “Getting the winning run on base in the 11th … I’m proud of them. It’s a good group of kids.”
One of those “kids” just joined the Ironmen earlier Saturday and made his first start at shortstop a memorable one. It appeared Cody Semler’s two-run single in the eighth inning that tied the game had the makings of a hero-type debut.
Semler, who played at West Virginia, just wanted to fit in with his new teammates but he walked his first time up and stole a pair of bases. When he stroked a liner to right that brought home Cooper and pinch runner Anthony Bova to tie the game, he knew he had arrived.
“I kept quiet at the start,” he said. “I felt good being able to get the big hit.”
He then scored what might have been the game-winning run when Richmond committed a throwing error on Lucas Raley’s single to left.
But Paez doubled to start the top of the ninth and eventually scored on the call that will have everybody talking today.
“I couldn’t tell,” Semler said of his view from shortstop. “That’s a tough call for the umpire.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.