Bend North Little League coach says he’s not done fighting to get his team into the World Series following Thursday’s controversial ending to the Northwest Regional Final. He’s asking Little League Baseball to add an 11th team — Bend North — to the field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania next week.
Bend North fell to the team from Bonney Lake/Sumner, Washington, 3-2 in extra innings. The walk-off win for Washington came in the bottom of the seventh. Tied 2-2 with a man on first, a ball was hit down the third baseline that Coach Brett Hartlaub said was called foul by one umpire, but fair by the other.
“Ball was hit down the line. We heard the foul call from the third base umpire who was the closest umpire. His hands were in the air,” Hartlaub told Central Oregon Daily News Friday.
While third baseman and left fielder for Bend North stopped, the runner for Washington kept going and made it home for the winning run.
Hartlaub said he didn’t hesitate.
“But the home plate umpire signaled it fair. So, OK. Alright. I’ve been here. We’ve got a discrepancy. I walked to the home plate umpire … and said video challenge right away.”
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Hartlaub said he gathered his team at the mound to strategize what to do, expecting the fair call to be overturned.
“In that situation, the rulebook says — a foul ball — it only takes one umpire to call a foul. So, it reverts to that person.”
But Harlaub said said he got more concerned about the outcome the longer the review went on.
After several minutes, the umpires said the fair call stood. Washington won.
“It’s almost a disbelief moment,” said Hartlaub.
The coach said he didn’t get a chance at getting a further explanation from the umpires or a chance to protest before they left the field. He admits he didn’t think of asking in the moment for that conversation.
Hartlaub could immediately be seen on the ESPN broadcast consoling his players.
“I’m not claiming we won that game. I’m claiming that it wasn’t over,” said Harlaub, adding that his players were left believing the game was incomplete.
“They were sad. They felt like it didn’t end. That was the overall sentiment,” Hartlaub.
The coach gave full credit to Washington and says they are the champions of the Northwest Regional. But he says his team should also go to Williamsport and had been on the phone with officials lobbying for just that. He says Little League has been getting “destroyed” on social media and in the media.
“Little League has an opportunity, I think, here to come out and do some good stuff. Let’s see if they’re smart enough to do that,” Hartlaub said.
Hartlaub had nothing but praise for his players who battled throughout the game.
“Thirteen of the toughest 12-year-olds I know took a really great Washington team to extra innings in the West Coast Regional final,” Hartlaub said.
“Thank you to the Central Oregon community,” Hartlaub added, noting all the love he saw on social media and nearly 200 text messages he received after the game.