LEESBURG, GA (WALB) - It never hurts to ask.
When Lee County head coach Brandon Brock asked, it helped his Trojans advance to the state title series with a 5-3 win to seal a sweep over Johns Creek. It will be Lee's first state championship appearance since 2005.
Tied at 3 in the bottom of the 7th, Lee County's Tyler Simon issued a bases-loaded walk to Carter Phillips, sending the game-winning run to the plate. The Gladiator celebration ensued on the first base line. That's when Brock called for the home plate umpire's attention.
"The protest was the guy on second didn't touch third," Brock says.
In a walk-off walk situation, all runners must advance to the next base or they could be called out on abandonment. Brock argued the runner who failed to touch third should be called out, and the Gladiators' winning run wiped off the board.
After a 20-minute discussion that included three cell phones, two GHSA officials, and a rule book, the umpires determined Brock was correct. The Gladiator runner was called out, the run negated, and the Trojans suddenly had life again.
"Obviously, we asked. It's a pretty big situation," Brock says. "The umpires got together and said we were right, but wanted to check to see how to do it. Anybody would've asked for that."
The Trojans wouldn't squander their second chance. After blowing the save in the 7th, Simon stepped to the plate with runners on second and third. The Kennesaw State signee delivered a redemptive two-RBI single to right field, giving the Trojans the 5-3 lead.
Simon allowed one runner on base in the 8th, but ended any drama this time around with a fly out to right to end the game and the series.
"That was interesting," Brock said after the game. "We stayed persistent, and that's what we've done all year."
Now it's the Gladiators' turn to do the asking. According to Fox 5 in Atlanta, Johns Creek is protesting the Game 2 loss to the GHSA.
For now, the Trojans will take on Pope in the Class AAAAAA state championship next week in Rome or Savannah. The GHSA will determine the championship site in the next few days.
Lee County took Game 1 of the series, 7-4. Trojans' starting pitcher Josh Hatcher delivered a mammoth three-run homer to right field to give the Trojans the lead for good in the 3rd.
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