LEESBURG, GA (WALB) - UPDATE (12:10 p.m): The GHSA Board of Trustees voted 5-2 to uphold Johns Creek's appeal Monday morning, meaning the Gladiators will meet Lee County for one more game in the Class 6A state baseball semifinals.
Game 3 of the series will be Wednesday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. in Leesburg.
The Class 6A state finals, originally scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, have been pushed back to Friday in Rome.
ORIGINAL STORY: Two days after a controversial ruling helped Lee County to advance to the GHSA Class AAAAAA state baseball championship, their opponent has lost a hearing by the governing body.
The Georgia High School Association Executive Committee has denied Johns Creek High School's appeal of that state baseball semifinal loss to Lee County. The board voted 3-1 to deny the appeal Friday morning in Thomaston. Both schools had representatives present at the hearing.
Johns Creek has already filed paperwork necessary to appeal that decision to the Board of Trustees. That will happen Monday morning at the GHSA offices in Thomaston. It will be the Gladiators' final appeal.
"We're pleased. It was a fair protest, but the rules speak for themselves," Lee Co. head coach Brandon Brock told Fox 5 in Atlanta Friday. "They deliberated, but we're happy with the decision."
The Gladiators' final appeal to the Board of Trustees does throw another wrench into the Trojans' preparations for the Class 6A state championship. The GHSA announced the title series between Lee County and Pope would begin Wednesday morning in Rome.
Brock says the appeal may muddy up who the Trojans play next, but it wont' affect their preparations.
"We're just preparing for the next game," Brock says. "We're going to continue doing what we're doing, and we'll let the people who know what they're doing make the decision."
The Georgia High School Association granted the appeal hearing to Johns Creek, who protested a ruling made at the end of Wednesday's Game 2.
In the bottom of the 7th with the game tied 3-3 and the bases loaded, Lee County walked the Johns Creek batter to send in the game-winning run. While the Gladiators were celebrating in front of their dugout, Lee Co. head coach Brandon Brock appealed to the home plate umpire the Gladiator runner on second never advanced and touched third.
The umpires and GHSA officials conferred on the field before ruling that runner out, and negating the game-winning run. That ended the 7th inning, and Lee County won in extras.
"It's something you don't see very often. It's not your typical ending," Brock says. "I can easily see where any high school kid would take off and go celebrate. I probably would myself. It is a tough situation for sure, but that's why you have the rules."
Rule 9-1-2 of the 2017 National Federation of State High School Associations baseball rulebook states "when the winning run is scored in the last half inning of a regulation game...as the result of a base on balls, hit batter, or any other play with the bases loaded which forces a runner on third base to advance, the umpire shall not declare the game over until all runners have advanced to the next base."
Fox 5 in Atlanta reports Johns Creek will argue the umpires called the game over before any of the runners touched the bases, so that's why the other runners never advanced.
If Johns Creek appeal is held up by the GHSA Board of Trustees, the Gladiators' run on the bases loaded walk will be scored and Johns Creek will be declared the Game 2 winner. Game 3 would then be rescheduled in Leesburg. Lee County officials say that game would likely be played Tuesday if needed.
Lee County could also appeal that decision to the GHSA Board of Trustees.
The GHSA needed to make a final ruling quickly and did so. The state championship games are scheduled to begin on May 24, and are being held at minor league baseball stadiums in Rome and Savannah.
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