Mountain Lions Declared Losers of a Tie Game

By Doug Fitzgerald published April 4, 2011

DENVER - All losses are tough to take, but none more so than a game you didn't actually lose.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was saddled with the toughest of losses Sunday as snow forced the cancellation of its game against the Metro State Roadrunners with the scored tied at four in the seventh inning. A controversial NCAA rule, however, awarded the win to Metro State because it had a 2-0 lead after six innings.

Trailing by one entering the final frame, the Mountain Lions got a two-out, pinch-hit single by Tahnea Leeling that scored Jessica Belsterling. After Caitlin Connelly was hit by a pitch, Amanda Hathaway delivered a clutch, three-run homer to give UCCS a 4-2 lead.

Amber Roundtree answered with a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning but the Roadrunners were unable to finish their half of the inning because of the weather.

But officially, none of that ever happened.

According to NCAA rule No. 6.16.1, "A regulation called game shall be declared by the plate umpire if, after five or more innings have been completed, he/she terminates play (for reasons such as lightning, darkness, rain, fire, panic or other causes that place the spectators or players in danger). The score shall be that of the last equal inning played."

Thus, because Metro State led 2-0 after six innings and couldn't finish their half of the seventh, the Mountain Lions lost a game that they tied.

In the six innings that counted, UCCS pitcher Becca Smith and Metro State's Julia Diehl engaged in a classic pitcher's duel. Through three innings, each team had managed just two hits and had only one runner advance as far as second base.

A walk, one of just two she allowed in the game, hurt Smith in the fourth. After Lauren Hainlen was issued the pass to lead off the inning, pinch runner Kristen Gertner entered the game and advanced to third on a one-out single by Aubree Maul. Annalyse Garcia's sacrifice fly scored Gertner.

The Roadrunners added another run in the fifth with a three-hit inning led off by a Roundtree double.

UCCS threatened in the fourth after a Lara Mathewson double was followed by a single by Belsterling to put runners on the corners with one out. Consecutive ground outs ended the threat.

The Mountain Lions managed just four hits, two by Belsterling, against Diehl (11-4). Smith (4-8) finished with seven hits allowed.

There was considerable doubt over whether the game should have been called a tie, since there was a dispute over whether the game was called or suspended, which could have affected the ruling. UCCS coach Scott Peterson said he asked the umpires three times whether the game was being called or suspended and was told each time that it was suspended.

The RMAC has already set a precedent that suspended games end in a tie. On April 29, 2008, a suspended game between Colorado State-Pueblo and Western New Mexico was declared a tie.

But a late-night ruling by RMAC Commissioner J.R. Smith did not declare this game a tie.

Despite that, UCCS became the first team this season to win a season series against Metro State. UCCS held the Roadrunners, who were averaging 7.25 runs per game coming into the weekend, to four runs in three games. That should make Sunday's loss qualify as a moral victory.

But moral victories are hard to fathom when they feel so, well, immoral.

Mark Twain put it nicely when he said: "By trying, we can easily endure adversity. Another man's, I mean."

It would be nice if others had to do the enduring for a change. 

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