Bombers game ends in 11th-inning brawl

Daniel Newton/Kentucky New Era

(Updated — 7/22/14)

From Herald Staff Reports

The Ohio Valley League executive committee has reversed its previous decision to award the Dubois County Bombers a 9-0 forfeit win after Saturday’s game against Hoptown in Huntingburg was interrupted by a dugout-clearing brawl. Instead, the game will be recorded as 7-all tie — the score when the game was stopped — and will be recorded for statistical purposes as a half-game win and a half-game loss for each team.

The OVL ruled that the original verdict to give the Bombers a victory was incorrect because of the umpires’ misinterpretation of league rules.

A statement posted on the Ohio Valley League website said that the OVL executive committee “took definitive action necessary to overcome the less-than-stellar umpiring job that occurred in Huntingburg.” The statement added that “fairness and maturity combined with experience and common-sense judgment prevailed in settling differences created by one bad umpiring decision and compounded by another one.”

Playing rights were restored to players on both teams who were originally ejected; they will not be suspended any additional games. Hoptown’s forfeit loss on Sunday against Fulton has also been withdrawn and a possible makeup game may be held Wednesday.

The Bombers (19 1/2-20 1/2) are still scheduled to host Madisonville (9-30) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the first round of the OVL playoffs, with the winner hosting top-seeded Owensboro (27-13) on Thursday in the first game of a best-of-three series.


Herald Sports Writers

No Dubois County Bombers players will miss Wednesday’s Ohio Valley League playoff opener after a dugout-clearing brawl erupted in the final inning of Saturday’s regular-season finale at League Stadium.

The altercation occurred in the top of the 11th inning and prompted multiple ejections on both sides as the game was suspended in a 7-all tie. The Bombers (20-20) were later awarded a 9-0 forfeit win as the home-plate umpire ejected the entire Hoptown team for leaving the bench during the brawl.

The Bomber dugout, as well as catcher Nick Gobert and pitcher Jacob Murray, who was ejected before the altercation, were also tossed from the game. But some pitchers and a catcher in the Bomber bullpen did not enter the fray and were not ejected; the umpire ruled that Hoptown was forced to forfeit because it had no players available to continue playing the game.

Ohio Valley League rules say any player who leaves the dugout during a fight is immediately ejected and suspended for the following regular-season game. No Bombers players will miss Wednesday’s first-round playoff game against Madisonville at 7 p.m. at League Stadium in Huntingburg. Hoptown (21-19) was forced to forfeit its Sunday game against Fulton as well.

The tensions elevated in the top of the 11th inning when a Hoptown batter tried to bunt and was awarded first base after being hit by a pitch on the hand. Bombers manager Wes Fink came onto the field to argue the call and was ejected along with Murray, who had also voiced his displeasure in the hit-by-pitch ruling.

Hoptown coach Grayson Crawford then got involved, arguing with the home-plate umpire that Fink did not exit the field quickly enough after his ejection. He also directed some terse words to one of the Bombers players, according to Bombers owner Mike Uebelhor, who was at the game.

During that time, a scuffle between Hoptown’s on-deck batter and Gobert broke out near home plate and swelled into the brawl, with punches thrown as more players entered the fracas. Fink, who was walking back to the locker room in the tunnel behind the dugout when the fight began, said the fight lasted two to three minutes.

Photo courtesy Crystal Schwartz

Neither Fink nor Uebelhor said they were able to see who initiated the fight near home plate.

Uebelhor emphasized that a competitive, electric environment may have tipped the scale as the Bombers twice fought back to tie the game in the ninth and 10th innings.

It was the second time in less than a week that coaches were ejected in a game between the Bombers and Hoppers. Two Hoptown coaches were ejected for arguing calls during a July 15 matchup in Hoptown. But no fights erupted during that matchup, or, in Uebelhor’s experience, any game he’s seen during his time with the Bombers.

Fink spoke with the Bombers team after the game, and all OVL owners and managers will meet with their respective teams to discuss the incident before Wednesday’s playoffs begin, Uebelhor said.

“It’s unfortunate it happened,” Fink said. “You never like to see anything like that happen. It was a such a good game.

“As a coach, you’re just trying to get it broken up. ... I’ve been in baseball my whole life and I’ve been a part of mini-incidents where teams get together, there’s some disagreements, but it usually never escalates to something like that.

“Any time you play a team 10 times (in a season) ... you’re going to see somebody that much and occasionally you’re going to get those moments where people don’t get along.”

Fink emphasized that the Bombers organization does not “condone that type of behavior,” but that his players responded in defense of Gobert. Uebelhor added that “we do not need the reputation of the Ohio Valley League to be damaged by this type of situation.”

Both Fink and Uebelhor said the team is ready to move past the incident.

“Our main thing is to get the guys going and playing baseball,” Fink said.

The brawl was a sudden cap on a wild night at League Stadium that included a marriage proposal by a fan in front of a crowd of more than 2,000, as well as two late-inning Bomber rallies that elongated the game.

Hoptown led 5-0 in the fourth inning, but the Bombers carved away at the deficit and scored three times in the ninth to knot the contest at 5, then answered with two runs in the 10th after Hoptown seized a 7-5 edge in the top of the frame.

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