May 16, 2012

The Virginia AAA Concorde District baseball quarterfinal between Chantilly and Oakton, halted by lightning Tuesday night, will be resumed at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Oakton after Chantilly successfully contended that the home team ended the shortened game improperly.

Concorde District principals from the four league schools not involved in the game voted 3-1 Wednesday afternoon to continue the game. When play resumes, Oakton, with a 5-3 lead, will be coming to bat in the bottom of the fifth inning. The season will end for the losing team.

The teams played enough innings Tuesday night for the game to be considered an official result. But it was an Oakton school official, not the umpires, who after a weather delay declared the game over at about 9 p.m., taking into account the ongoing lightning — each strike resets the delay time at 30 minutes — and the fact that Fairfax County students are amid advanced placement tests this week.

Virginia High School League rules, however, state that a school administrator can override the umpires on whether to resume a game only if their reasoning is based on safety. The Concorde principals ruled that Oakton’s decision did not meet that criterion and that the game would resume.

“Both parties were right,” said Centreville Principal Mike Campbell, who as the district’s vice chairman handled Chantilly’s appeal. “It was an official game because it was a suspended game in which there was a clear winner after four-and-a-half innings. We ruled that it was incorrectly ended. If the umpire had made the decision, everything would have been fine. But the umpire is saying he did not make that decision.”

“Oakton did what they thought was right,” said Chantilly Athletic Director Terry Brown, a former baseball coach and the Concorde District baseball tournament director. “I don’t think they were trying to pull a fast one. They did what they thought they should have and I respect that. I just didn’t agree with it. That’s why we have processes like this. If the umpires had called it because of weather, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. The umpires didn’t make the call.”

Oakton Athletic Director Pat Full, who was at Herndon running a lacrosse tournament Tuesday night and not at the baseball game, said that he understood such procedures to be a collaboration between the officials associations and the game administrators and that perhaps there was not enough communication between the parties at the game.

“From a schools standpoint, we’re academics first and we do take our student academics into consideration when we make these decisions,” said Full, who was in contact with the administrator on site at Oakton. “My game manager went through a thorough process.”

At 9 p.m., after about an hour’s delay, the Oakton administrator reported to Full that there was still lightning in the area and that the radar indicated a slow-moving active storm cell across the Vienna area. Whenever the lightning and rain finally stopped, any necessary field repairs and warmups would further delay the time the teams could resume play.

Oakton had scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take the 5-3 lead, but Full said that the decision to call the game had nothing to do with the Cougars being on top at the time.

“We would have done it going the other way because we have to think about our student-athletes,” Full said. “Our overriding philosophy is that we have to be mindful of when we’re going to be sending these students home.”

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