On Monday evening, the Maryland Terrapins found themselves locked in a heated battle with the UConn Huskies in the College Park Regional with elimination on the line. Down 10-8 in the top of the eighth, fifth-year senior center fielder Chris “Bubba” Alleyne hit a dribbler up the first-base line. UConn’s pitcher scooped the ball and throw it across his body to first base, but he missed. Alleyne, who had beaten the throw anyway, collided with the first baseman and they both hit the ground. The first base umpire signaled that Alleyne was safe. Meanwhile, a Maryland runner on third base scored to cut the deficit to one run.
However, that’s when home plate umpire Jeff Head overruled the call and called Alleyne out, saying that he had run out of the baseline. The call was reviewed and upheld. Alleyne was out and the baserunner returned to third base, keeping the score at 10-8.
How the hell do you call the runner out? pic.twitter.com/vnUYPB70LT
— CJ Fogler AKA Perc70 #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) June 7, 2022
Maryland would go on to lose the elimination game, 11-8.
Pretty much everyone watching at home felt like the call was way out of line and an overreach by the umpire. The ruling was that the runner had stepped inside the baselines, but it was a negligible step. Not to mention that the pitcher was throwing the ball from foul territory. It’s hard to understand why this call needed to be made at such a crucial moment in the game.
I really — REALLY — hate when officials ruin games like this. Yes it’s hard to see everything when you’re only human but YOU are the reason the game ended like that. It’s you, not the athletes — you. https://t.co/2EIUf9YkFt
— Katherine Fominykh (@katfominykh) June 7, 2022
Horrible. This is ridiculous! What is he supposed to do? https://t.co/6Dx2d6vLbT
— Olivia Garvey (@Olivia7News) June 7, 2022
Disclosure – I teach at UConn.
I have ranted against how this rule works for a decade. The umpires probably got this call right within how they can apply it, but it is an awful, nonsensical rule. I often say it is like NOT having offensive pass interference in football. #MLB https://t.co/JsYzpm3Je4
— Doug Glanville (@dougglanville) June 7, 2022
To be fair, some people noted that while it all looks odd, technically it’s the right call.
This play is funky because the 1B is moving across the bag because he expects the pitcher to throw it outside the line. That’s why there’s a weird collision. But anyways… the runner was inside the baseline so it’s interference. https://t.co/a68V80xV1d
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) June 7, 2022
Danan Hughes, who did play-by-play the game, chimed in on Twitter to explain why the umpire made the call.
I called the game. Ultimately they landed on the letter of the rule, runner inside lines=out. Gray area & I think the fact that pitcher fielded in play but threw from foul territory should b a factor in the call. Gray area, but rough 4the Terps. Runner back to 3rd as well. Tough
— Danan Hughes (@dahughesguy83) June 7, 2022
“Ultimately they landed on the letter of the rule, runner inside lines=out,” wrote Hughes. “Gray area & I think the fact that pitcher fielded in play but threw from foul territory should b a factor in the call. Gray area, but rough 4the Terps. Runner back to 3rd as well. Tough.”
All in all, while the call may have been technically feasible, it’s hard not to see it and an umpire overstepping in a moment that didn’t call for it.