East Webster (Maben, Miss.) beat O’Bannon (Greenville, Miss.) in a Class 2A baseball playoff game on Thursday, 45-0.
It’s OK if you feel like you need to read that again, but, no, that’s not a typo.
Yes, the final score was 45-0.
Yes, this was a high school baseball game.
This is the sort of thing that makes you ask yourself those knee-jerk questions such as “Huh?” and “What?” and “How in the world does that even happen?”
That’s natural. An absurd score like that — in a playoff game, no less — should elicit those kinds of responses.
After some head-shaking and reflection, however, another question needs to be asked.
What can be done to ensure this never happens again?
The MHSAA’s current mercy rule is 10 runs after five innings or 10 runs after the top of the fourth if the home team is winning. Also, during the pregame meeting with the umpires, coaches can decide whether or not the game will be called if one team has an insurmountable lead after three innings, MHSAA associate director Rickey Neaves said.
RELATED: Time for a first-inning mercy rule?
Don Hinton, MHSAA executive director, said there likely will be discussions in upcoming district meetings and executive meetings about lowering the mercy rule.
“The thing is,” O’Bannon coach Torrione Carter said, “to my knowledge, there was never a problem before.”
The MHSAA’s mercy rules will likely work just fine in most cases. This game was an anomaly, but it should never happen again and, therefore, stricter rules are needed.
East Webster and O’Bannon never agreed prior to the game to end it by the end of the third inning if things got out of hand like they did. That’s why the game lasted five innings, East Webster coach Wes Johnson said.
The Wolverines reached base via walk or hit by pitch 31 times, he said. East Webster’s starters were taken out after the first inning. The Wolverines’ reserves had five at-bats. What’s more, with the bases loaded in the fourth inning, East Webster purposely bunted the ball back to the pitcher in an attempt to end the inning, but there was an error on the throw.
“It was a pretty uncomfortable situation,” Johnson said. “I kept thinking the third-stringers would get out, but it seemed like they never did.”
It’s a tough predicament for a high school coach, especially in baseball because there is no clock. On one side, reserve players who may not have seen much playing time during the season are finally seeing the field and parents who traveled to the game expect to see their kids play for more than a couple of innings. On the other side, a group of high school players are getting embarrassed.
Frankly, that’s why it shouldn’t be up to the coaches. It shouldn’t be up to the umpires, either. After all, umpires are not paid by the hour.
When the playoffs end and meetings are conducted, the MHSAA should change its mercy rules with the idea of taking things solely in its own hands for preventing another 45-0 game from happening.
Maybe you should only be allowed to score a certain amount of runs in an inning. Perhaps the run rule should be shortened to three innings.
“Ideas on how we can prevent this from happening again will be discussed,” Hinton said.
After 45-0, they have to be.