Without as much as a .500 season since 2001, the Wakefield baseball program does not have a reputation for catching breaks.
It took an act of nature for that to change Tuesday night, when the Warriors played in a Virginia AAA National District quarterfinal at Hayfield.
Wakefield, the seventh seed, clinged to an imperiled 7-6 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when the game was delayed and then suspended because of lightning. Tournament officials did not conclude until Wednesday morning that the game, per Virginia High School League rules, was officially over and would not be resumed.
Wakefield was declared the winner, earning the Warriors (4-17) their first berth into the 16-team Northern Region tournament since 2006. At the time the umpires stopped the game, second seed Hayfield had just doubled in three runs and had the tying run on second and no outs.
The Hawks had won all eight meetings against Wakefield since joining the National District in 2009. Then lightning struck.
“We got a break for a change, the kids are playing hard, and we beat the two seed on the road,” said Wakefield Coach George Baker, whose team this season lost five games by one or two runs and four others by three runs. “Sometimes life isn’t fair. I feel bad for [Hayfield]. It’s sad for them, but you know what? We outplayed them for a long time and that’s life.
“There was so much controversy last night. Their coaching staff is upset, but if it happened to us, I already knew the rule. You can’t control Mother Nature.”
As of early Wednesday afternoon, a Wakefield student manager was contacting players and telling them they had practice and did not need their uniforms to continue the game.
Hayfield, playing without three suspended starting seniors, loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth on two walks and an error. A three-run double by junior David Zumwalt made it a 7-6 game with no outs. With lightning and rain persisting, umpires called the game about an hour later, Hawks Coach Mike Shore said.
So after leading 3-0 earlier in the game, being in prime position to at least tie the game in the late innings, and then holding out hope until Wednesday that the game would be completed, Hayfield’s season abruptly ended at 11-8.
“Needless to say, I am very upset at this decision and feel that we were cheated out of an equal opportunity,” Shore said in an e-mail. “I always hear ‘do what’s best for the kids/players.’ This is clearly not what is best for the players.
“Instead, I have to look my players in the eye and tell them that their season is over despite all of their hard work...That’s a conversation no coach wants to have with his team.”