- April 12, 2022
As a fan, baseball is wonderful because each game affords the opportunity to see something you have never seen before.
Unfortunately, there's a flip side to that. Sometimes, those things happen against your own team.
Cardinal Mooney High (20-8) fans were feeling frustrated after the baseball team's 6-2 home loss to John Carroll Catholic on Tuesday that ended the Cougars' season. The controversy started in the third inning. Cardinal Mooney junior Jaden Stockton was on the mound, down 2-0. He had two runners on base with two outs when John Carroll senior Jay Allen, a University of Florida commit, attempted to steal home. I think. Either that or John Carroll had called some sort of hit and run play that the batter missed. Either way, Allen ends up at home plate. The pitch from Stockton beats him by a mile and he's tagged out.
Inning over. Mooney starts running off the field. But wait: Allen doesn't move from home plate, instead arguing to the umpire that Stockton balked. The home plate umpire gathers the rest of his crew. They talk about it and decide that Allen is right, Stockton balked. All runners get to advance a base and Allen scores. Suddenly, instead of it being inning over, it's 3-0 John Carroll with the opportunity for more.
Mooney Coach Greg Mulhollen was livid and let the umpires know it, coming onto the field and getting in their faces.
"A balk is a judgment call," Mulhollen said. "That was my argument. [Changing a balk call after the fact] is like a coach arguing balls and strikes, you don't do it.
"In a moment like that, a pivotal turning point for my team, I had to have their backs. I'll never blame a game on umpiring, but in all my years doing this, I don't see how a call like that is overturned."
The inning continued nonetheless, and Stockton threw a wild pitch to the next hitter, which allowed another run to score. After that, it was 4-0, a tough hole to escape for any team, especially one going against John Carroll senior pitcher Braden Calise, a University of Louisville commit. Mooney actually outhit John Carroll nine to five, but couldn't get many runs home.
It's impossible to say how much the balk call and its fallout affected the game, but it understandably makes the loss tough to swallow, especially for Mooney seniors. Mulhollen praised his graduating class for leading the team to a 20-win season.
"Those seniors have won over 80 games in their four years here," Mulhollen said. "They have been a great group to coach. I'm proud to be their coach."
The Cougars' season is over, but one local baseball team remains alive. Riverview High (19-9) played Durant High at 7 p.m. Wednesday at home and with a win would advance to the regional finals on Saturday. That game would also be at home. Update: The Rams lost 7-0.