PLYMOUTH — Fishers was celebrating its 5-3 win over Chesterton in Saturday's Class 4A northern semistate and Tommy Benson stood in angered disbelief, the sting of a costly second-inning call still burning the Trojans shortstop.
"I'm still not convinced we lost," Benson said. "The umps were wrong. They didn't know the rule. I don't know how four of them don't know the rule. They took the game out of our hands. It shouldn't have happened. I know the rule. I had it happen to me. I looked up the rule. My uncle's an ump and he looked it up. My dad told me to make sure the ump knows. Let it play out. They blew the game."
Chesterton trailed 4-0 in the second when Benson singled in two runs, or so he thought. The home plate umpire ruled catcher's interference as Benson's bat hit the catcher's glove. When the play was waved off, an upset Benson had to be held back by teammates.
"They said, it's not Major League Baseball," he said. "Why should we get punished? I don't understand why there isn't a process against this."
A portion of the catcher's interference rule indicates that a team can take the result of the play if delayed interference is called, but since the home plate umpire made the ruling immediately, the play was officially dead and the outcome was negated.
"I didn't see or hear anything," Trojans coach Jack Campbell said. "We're all watching the play. He stopped the play immediately. He said it was catcher's interference and as soon as the bat hit the glove, it stops the play and everybody goes back."
With the bases loaded, Chris VanEekeren grounded out and Chesterton (20-8) didn't score, stranding three for the second inning in a row.
"We couldn't get the big hit," Campbell said. "We were one hit away. We had opportunities."
Fishers struck quickly against Austin Peterson, chasing him with three hits in a string of four hard-hit balls in the first. He retired only one of the six batters he faced before Campbell pulled him in favor Chris Torres down 3-0 with two on base. The Trojans ace said he experienced soreness in his right bicep.
"He just didn't have the velocity he usually has," Campbell said. "You ask him, how do you feel? he says OK. Nobody's hit the ball like that when he's right. Something was wrong, whatever it was."
The Tigers (28-5) scored just once more, on a third-inning Alex Jamieson home run that smacked the scoreboard in left field. Chris Torres and Stephen Gilbertsen teamed to keep Fishers to one run between them over the last 5 2/3 innings.
Chesterton finally got on the board in the fifth when VanEekeren was robbed of extra bases on a shot to right-center field by a diving Grant Robertson. It went as a sacrifice fly but could've triggered a bigger inning. Throwing errors plated a second run in the frame and another in the sixth, but the Trojans again left runners in scoring position.
"We came back here," Campbell said. "We just didn't come all the way back."
Grant Brunt and Torres singled with one out in the seventh but Robertson, on in relief, kept them there, bringing the runners left on base total to 11 as Tyler Nelson tapped out to the catcher to end it.
"Obviously, we haven't been to the state finals before," Campbell said. "I feel bad for the kids. They were awesome. We had the group to do it. They were built for it. We just didn't get it done. It's a tough one."