Augustana baseball loses a game to Minnesota State after a controversial ruling. Augustana thought it had tied a game with Minnesota State up with a hit by pitch. Instead, the Vikings lost on a controversial ruling.

In the long history of the sport of baseball, we’ve seen teams lose games in brutal ways. The loss the Augustana Vikings suffered against the Minnesota State Mavericks during the first game of the NCAA Super Regional between the two teams will rank among the worst possible ways to lose.

It seemed like it would be a regular, run-of-the-mill loss. Minnesota State scored two runs in the top of the first inning and only built on the lead from there, taking a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. But Augusta rallied, scoring four runs in the bottom half of the ninth and loading the bases and third baseman, Ragan Pinnow at the plate.

Pinnow worked a full count. The payoff pitch from Mavericks closer, Spencer Wright hit Pinnow, seemingly bringing in the tying run. Only, it didn’t. The home plate umpire ruled that Pinnow leaned into the pitch. So, instead of earning a game-tying hit by pitch, Pinnow struck out — ending the game.

Did the umpire get this one right?

To answer that, we must look at two different things.

One, did the hitter lean into the pitch? That’s a clear yes. It’s apparent in both the regular camera shot taken from behind home plate and the replay facing Pinnow. That, however, is not the only thing that matters.

Two, where was the pitch? If a hitter leans into a pitch that the umpire deems is in the strike zone, it should be called a strike. But if the pitch was out of the strike zone, it should be ruled a ball. Even if the pitch was a ball, the batter wouldn’t be awarded a hit by pitch. But in this case, that’s a moot point, since it was also ball four.

So, there’s plenty of debate to be had with this call.

Ultimately, it didn’t make much of a difference. Augustana stormed back to decisively win both of Saturday’s games against Minnesota State, 8-3 and 16-2 to claim the Super Regional.

With that, the Vikings will play in the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament.

[Photo and Video Credit: Augustana University]

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