Strange home run review sparks late U.S. rally to crush Canada at Olympic baseball qualifier
Canadians must beat Dominican Republic Saturday to stay in hunt for Tokyo
A close game quickly turned bizarre in the late stages, helping the U.S. beat Canada 10-1 at an Olympic baseball qualifying tournament on Friday night.
With the Americans leading 3-1, a man on first and one out in the eighth inning, first baseman Triston Casas appeared to launch a two-run home run.
However, upon video review, the call was reversed as the ball hit padding on top of the outfield wall before bouncing back to Canadian right fielder Jesse Hodges, who relayed the ball back to the infield. Logan Forsythe, the runner, wound up on third with Casas on second.
The ruling prompted the U.S. to call for another review, and it took more than 30 minutes for the umpires to come to a controversial ruling: Casas would remain at second, with Forsythe scoring, as the umpires deemed he would have if not for the confusion.
"It was a pretty good ball game until the umpires got in the way," Canadian manager Ernie Whitt said after the game in West Palm Beach, Fla.
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Whitt filed a protest, ruling it should have been a ground-rule double and Forsythe should have been forced to stop at third. But because Hodges took the ball from the top of the wall, umpires appeared to rule the ball remained live, and they allowed Forsythe to score.
Things only unravelled from there for Canada, which must beat the Dominican Republic on Saturday to keep its Olympic hopes alive. The winner of this tournament — which can no longer mathematically be Canada — automatically heads to Tokyo, with the second- and third-place teams off to a last-chance qualifying tournament at the end of the month in Mexico, which will also include Australia, the Netherlands and Taiwan.
The Americans (2-0) would reach the Olympics if they beat Venezuela (1-1) on Saturday.
The tournament winner joins Japan, Israel, Mexico and South Korea at the Olympic baseball tournament, to be played in Japan from July 28 to Aug. 7 in Fukushima and Yokohama.
After the long delay, Whitt lifted reliever Chris Leroux, replacing him with Travis Seabrooke. Seabrooke struck out the first batter he faced, but committed a throwing error on the next, which allowed the Americans to score their fifth run.
And the rout was on.
With files from The Associated Press