Cedar Rapids Washington baseball coach Tony Lombardi, assistant coach Ron Benich and senior Grant Dostal were all ejected from the second game of their team's Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader against Waterloo East Tuesday night.
Waterloo East won the controversial nightcap, 15-14, in eight innings. The Warriors won the first game, 4-3, at Washington.
The ejections occurred with Washington batting in the bottom of the eighth inning of the second game. The Warriors had cut a 15-10 deficit to 15-14 and had runners on first and second with nobody out when the disputed play began.
Will Rings tried to bunt the runners to second and third, but Waterloo East first baseman Alex Schutte fielded the bunt and fired to third baseman Joe Mnayer in an attempt for a force play. Mnayer was straddling the bag when he caught the ball, but he tagged A.J. Puk before Puk could reach third base for an out.
Benich, the first-base coach, came running onto the field toward field umpire Josh Mara, claiming Mnayer had illegally blocked third base and not given Puk a chance to reach the bag. Mara ejected Benich and told Lombardi he would have to leave the third-base coaching box and would be restricted from leaving the dugout for the rest of the game, although Lombardi was not ejected at that point.
Mara told Lombardi that a head coach must be restricted to the dugout when an assistant coach is ejected in that manner. Lombardi discussed the situation with Mara and ultimately moved into the dugout, but was ejected a few minutes later.
Mara told the Metro Sports Report that Lombardi continued to dispute the play at third base after being sent to the dugout, which resulted in the ejection. Dostal also was ejected for something he said from the dugout.
Lombardi, Benich and Dostal all had to leave the field. Javier Rivera and Steve James, two other Washington assistant coaches, replaced Lombardi and Benich in the coaching boxes as the inning continued.
Rule 2, Section 22, Article 3 of the baseball rulebook defines obstruction as occurring when "The fielder without possession of the ball denies access to the base the runner is attempting to achieve."
Lombardi acknowledged Mnayer had the ball when he blocked the bag, so according to the rulebook it was not obstruction.
"There is a force play, and I get all that," Lombardi said. "But the kid was off the bag, and he didn't realize it was a force play. So he was blocking third base, which is against the rules.
"All I was going to say was, 'He has to provide a path for A.J. to get to the base, or that's obstruction.' But I never even got that out.
"Ron came out to say something. He immediately ejected Ron. So I said, 'OK, I got it.' And I said, 'Who do I complain to?' That is an exact quote. And then all heck broke loose."
Lombardi acknowledged Mnayer had the ball when he blocked the base and tagged Puk. "But he can't do that, I don't think," he said.
Benich left the field, Lombardi went to the dugout and the game resumed. A few minutes later, Mara ejected Lombardi and Dostal.
The game resumed again with Robert Hogg batting for the Warriors with runners at first and second with one out. Hogg grounded out to the second baseman for the second out, with the runners advancing to second and third with the Warriors still trailing 15-14.
Trevor Thulin was Washington's last hope, but the eighth grader was called out on a 3-2 pitch by home-plate umpire Randy Christensen to end the game.
A note in the IHSAA spring manual confirms Mara's ruling about restricting Lombardi to the dugout after Benich was ejected.
"Coaches are viewed by their players as teachers and positive role models," the IHSAA note begins. "Assistant coaches or a player (occupying one of the coaches boxes) are not permitted to leave the dugout or the coaching box to dispute, question or challenge the authority of the umpire(s).
"Assistant coach is either restricted to the dugout or ejected, umpire's jurisdiction on the severity of the assistant coach's action, and the head coach is restricted to the dugout for the remainder of that game.
"If the assistant coach is ejected, he would need to leave the confines of the playing field for the remainder of the day and not attend any contests until the next playing date has been completed.
"The NFHS (National Federation of High Schools) indicated there are too many incidents involving assistant coach confrontations with umpires around the country. When their behavior jeopardizes the constructive 'teachable moments' of athletic contests, serious attention should be given to the issue."
Neither Benich nor Lombardi appeared to be yelling at Mara or using abusive language while disputing the call.
The Warriors took the first game, 4-3, on a game-winning single by Puk with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Washington had a runner at second base and first base was open, but Waterloo East elected to face Puk instead of giving him an intentional walk and facing Noah Burdt instead.
Puk missed four weeks of the season with a hairline fracture in his right thumb, an injury suffered on June 1. He returned to action last week as a pitcher, but hadn't swung a bat in a game until Tuesday night.
He was 0-for-2 in the opener before getting the game-winning hit with an opposite-field single. He went 4-for-5 in the nightcap with two RBIs.
Washington ended the controversial night at 8-27 overall and 5-19 in the conference. Waterloo East went home with marks of 5-28 and 4-19.
Lombardi, Benich and Dostal all face suspensions when Washington visits Dubuque Senior for a doubleheader on Friday.
There was another controversial situation in the second game when Waterloo East made an illegal substitution. Zac Howard began the game in the No. 8 spot in the batting order for East, left the game in the second inning and re-entered in the fifth inning in the No. 4 spot in the lineup, which is against the rules.
Howard replaced Mnayer in the No. 4 spot in the lineup when he re-entered the game, when he should have replaced Dakota Scribbner in his original No. 8 spot.
Lombardi did not protest the illegal substitution when it occurred, but he brought it to Christensen's attention before Howard was about to bat in the seventh inning. Lombardi said he told Christensen (the home-plate umpire) that he would make an appeal if Howard reached base, but Christensen informed Waterloo East Coach John Magnuson of the problem before Howard stepped into the batter's box.
A 10-minute discussion ensued and Mnayer ultimately re-entered the game in his original No. 4 spot and Howard went to the dugout, later to legally re-enter in the No. 8 spot. Mnayer flied out to center field.
According to Washington Principal Ralph Plagman, Christensen later acknowledged he should have waited until after Howard batted in the No. 4 spot before taking corrective measures. If Howard had reached base, he would have been called out for batting out of order.
The confusion with Howard and Mnayer occurred in the seventh inning of the nightcap, an inning before the controversial play at third base that led to the ejections.
WATERLOO EAST (3)
Magnuson, ss, 3 1 1 0, Frost, rf, 3 0 1 1, Billings, p, 3 0 0 0, Newman, cr, 0 0 0 0, Mnayer, 3b, 4 0 0 0, Sahr, c, 3 0 1 0, Scribbner, cr, 0 1 0 0, Schutte, 1b, 2 1 1 0, Howard, cf, 3 0 2 0, Ramirez, 2b, 3 0 0 0, Faith, lf, 3 0 0 0. Totals 27 3 6 1.
N.Dostal, c, 4 1 1 0, Dobbs, 3b, 4 2 2 0, Puk, dh/p, 3 1 1 2, Hand, lf, 0 0 0 0, Christensen, p, 0 0 0 0, Burdt, p/lf, 3 0 1 1, Metzger, cr, 0 0 0 0, Gillis, 1b, 2 0 1 1, Troendle, cf, 3 0 1 0, G.Dostal, rf, 3 0 0 0, Hogg, ss, 2 0 0 0, Thulin, 2b, 3 0 0 0. Totals 27 4 7 4.
Waterloo East 001 002 0 - 3 6 2
Washington 002 010 1 - 4 7 3
Billings and Sahr; Burdt, Christensen (4), Puk (5) and N.Dostal. W - Puk. L - Billings. 2B - Magnuson. SB - Magnuson, N.Dostal.
WATERLOO EAST (15)
Magnuson, ss/p, 4 2 1 0, Frost, rf/ss, 5 2 2 0, Billings, cf/ss, 3 2 1 2, Mnayer, 3b, 5 2 2 1, Howard, 3b, 0 0 0 0, Sahr, c, 5 1 4 3, Newman, cr, 0 2 0 0, Schutte, 1b, 4 2 2 4, Faith, lf, 3 0 1 0, Howard, p/rf, 3 0 1 1, Scribbner, p/cf, 2 0 1 0, Ramirez, 2b, 4 2 1 0. Totals 38 15 16 12.
N.Dostal, ss/p, 4 3 4 0, Metzger, pr, 0 0 0 0, Dobbs, 3b, 4 3 2 2, G.Dostal, lf, 4 2 2 1, Burdt, rf, 4 1 0 3, Gillis, 1b, 1 0 0 0, Puk, 1b, 5 0 4 2, Troendle, cf/p, 6 2 2 1, Rings, c/ph/dh, 1 0 0 0, Lock, dh, 3 1 0 0, Hogg, p/ss/cf, 4 1 0 0, Thulin, 2b, 5 2 1 1. Totals 41 14 15 10.
Waterloo East 440 000 25 - 15 16 9
Washington 064 000 04 - 14 10 4
Howard, Scribbner (2), Magnuson (3), Frost 6) and Sahr; Hogg, N.Dostal (7), Troendle (7) and Rings. W - Frost. L - Troendle. 2B - Sahr, N.Dostal 2, Dobbs, Puk, Troendle. HR - Schutte.
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