The bizarre saga of the American Legion Zone III championship took another strange turn on Thursday.

The rule that resulted in Pastime Club of Lewiston being awarded its third consecutive zone championship on Wednesday was incorrectly interpreted, Zone III comissioner Todd Cifelli said.

A Windham pitcher ruled ineligible on Wednesday was actually eligible, and Windham should not have had to forfeit at the start of the 16th inning of an 11-11 game, Cifelli said.

But Pastime will remain the champion and Windham will remain runner-up because no formal protest was filed while the umpires were on the field Wednesday, Cifelli said.

Cifelli, the former Pastime coach who is in his first year as zone commissioner, apologized for the mistake.

“The coaches, players and parents for the Windham team, and for that matter Pastime, deserved better,” Cifelli said. “The result is final because no protest was lodged while everybody was there. The game becomes final regardless of whether the rule was interpreted correctly or enforced correctly.”


Artes said he considered the matter over and is ready to move on.

“It’s an unfortunate thing for the kids,”  Artes said. “It’s one of those things where we could point fingers all day long about whose fault it is and whose fault it isn’t, but at the end of the day, everybody makes mistakes and you just have to deal with the cards you’re dealt.”

As zone champion, Pastime gets an automatic berth in the state tournament, which begins Wednesday in Augusta. As runner-up, Windham will have to beat Zone 2 runner-up Madison on Saturday to advance to the double-elimination state tournament.

Artes said he plans to meet with his team a little earlier than usual before their 11 a.m. play-in game and urge them to put the incident behind them. But he also admitted that while he held no hard feelings toward Pastime coach Dave Jordan or his team, he believes the incident will motivate his team on Saturday and, he hopes, beyond.
“Hopefully we’re in that eight-team tournament next week,” he said. “When either us or Pastime gets introduced, I have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that they’re considered the Zone III champions. They didn’t win the game. They won it by forfeit, but it wasn’t a true victory on the field.”

The controversial conclusion brought a sudden halt to a wild game which began on Monday. Windham rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie it at 11-11 and send it to extra innings. Upon completion of the 10th inning, play was suspended due to darkness and the game was scheduled to resume at that point on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s rain forced officials to postpone the game one day. When the teams returned to Windham High School on Wednesday, the coaches held a brief pregame meeting with the umpires and play resumed in the top of the 11th with Nate Boyle making his first mound appearance in the game for Windham.

Boyle started and pitched seven innings in Sunday’s win over Locke Mills and held Pastime scoreless through his first five innings on Wednesday. When he threw a first-pitch strike to Pastime’s Eddie Emerson to start the 16th inning, Jordan asked home plate umpire Kevin Joyce for a conference and alerted him that he believed Boyle had begun his 13th inning pitched in three days. Joyce called on Cifelli to join the discussion, and a short time later it was ruled Windham had forfeited the game under Rule 1(O) of the 2013 American Legion Rule Book.


The rule states:

“No player may pitch more than a total of 12 innings during any consecutive
three-day period. No player may make more than four appearances as a pitcher during any consecutive three-day period.”
The rule goes on to state the game shall be forfeited if a protest is filed with the umpire-in-chief (in this case Joyce) before the end of the game.
After consulting with umpires and legion officials around the state on Thursday, Cifelli said Boyle’s three-day calendar should have reset after the rainout and he should have been able to continue pitching on Wednesday.

Joyce said his interpretation of the rule on Wednesday was that the game would be treated as if it were still being played on Monday.

“The only thing I asked, and everyone agreed when I asked it earlier in the game, was is this considered as (if it were) being played Monday, because it’s a suspended game. And everybody said yes,” said Joyce, who is the interpreter for the Western Maine Baseball Umpires Association. 

“That’s what we were going on. Nobody had the Legion rule book,”  Joyce added. “I guess if you look at the national book, it says the rain day would have counted as an extra day and he could have pitched. But we didn’t have the book.”

Earlier in the game, Jordan, Joyce and Cifelli had a conference to clarify the status of Pastime relief pitcher Luke Cote. Jordan said he didn’t bring up Boyle’s eligibility until the conference after the first pitch of the 16th inning.

“Our guys and their guys both competed their butts off that game and I wish it didn’t have to end that way,” Jordan said. “My heart goes out to Windham. You can’t take back what happened. I wasn’t trying to be a jerk about it. All I wanted was an interpretation, what can they do (and) what can they not do? The people that know the rules were doing the best they could at that moment with what they thought the rules were and I guess they weren’t the right ones.”
Windham coaches considered filing a protest, but since Jordan’s action was itself considered a protest, “How do you protest a protest?” Artes said. He added he checked with Cifelli afterwards about possible avenues for appeal, but decided to let the matter rest once the commissioner pointed out that a protest had to be filed with the umpires still on the field.
“It’s not a good resolution,” Cifelli said. “I feel terrible that this was resolved incorrectly from my interpretation. (Windham coach) Brody Artes did nothing wrong. He’s been nothing but professional in this scenario.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: