Ferndale Wins Controversial Regional Semifinal Game 5-4 Over Dearborn Divine Child
The Eagles eliminate defending state champions in wild finish at Madonna University on Saturday.
LIVONIA – Dearborn Divine Child and Ferndale baseball played a regional semifinals game on Saturday that won’t soon be forgotten.
The Eagles edged out the defending state champions 5-4 at Madonna University in a game filed with controversy. It was the first time in eight years that the Falcons lost in the first round of regionals.
Both managers spent almost as much time on the field arguing with the umpires as they did in the dugout. The big fireworks came in the bottom of the sixth when Divine Child coach Tony DeMare was thrown out of the game.
“I think it was frustrating for both coaches,” Sibula said. “You like a nice flow to a game and it just wasn’t happening.”
The initial controversy was over a fly ball hit by Divine Child third baseman Tommy DiPonio in the third inning.
Ferndale starter Ryan Humphreys quickly retired the first two batters in the inning and then DiPonio hit a routine fly ball to left field. It looked like it would be an easy third out and the Eagles would get out of the inning with their 2-0 lead intact.
Leftfielder Brandon White caught the ball and Ferndale started running off the field, but White appeared to pick something up off the ground after making the catch.
Divine Child’s coaches screamed from the dugout that the junior dropped the ball. The Ferndale bench and fans starting yelling back that White had actually just bent down to pick up his sunglasses.
A weird scene played out as DiPonio kept running the bases as the Eagles kept walking off the field.
DeMare immediately ran towards the umpires to argue his case. The umpires eventually agreed with him. They ruled that White dropped the ball and DiPonio was ordered to go to second base.
“It’s an obvious catch,” Sibula said. “It is what it is. He dropped his glasses off his head and went to pick it up. The umpire thought he dropped the ball and from that distance it was hard to tell.”
Sibula came out and argued with no success. Randy Kuzdak came up next and hit an RBI double. The Falcons would go on to score three more unearned runs in the inning to take a 4-2 lead.
Ferndale regained the lead by taking advantage of bases loaded situations in the fifth and sixth inning. Justin Hammerle walked in the fifth with the bases loaded to make the game 4-3. In the sixth, Keith Waldrop was the hero with a two-run single.
“I saw a fastball right down the middle,” Waldrop said. “It felt great.”
DeMare was tossed in the bottom half of the inning. Justin Williams hit a double to lead off the inning. Nick Posh came up to bat with two outs and hit a slow roller to shortstop Scott Jones.
Jones’ throw to first pulled Gregory Rose off the bag. Rose recovered quickly and touched the bag just as Posh got there. Posh was called safe.
Now, it was Sibula’s turn to give the umpires a piece of his mind. He argued that Rose actually tagged the runner with his glove hand when he was pulled off the bag. The umpired conferred again and this time reversed the call in Ferndale’s favor.
DeMare came out of the dugout fuming. He screamed at the home plate umpire and was quickly ejected.
“You ought to be ashamed,” he screamed at the home plate umpire. “This will be your last regional.”
The coach and players declined comment after the game. They walked to the bus clearly upset by the turn of events.
Sibula praised his team for keeping their composure given all the disputed calls. He called Humphreys performance after the rough third inning “unbelievable.” Humphreys only allowed three more hits the rest of the game and ended up going the distance.
“He’s been doing it all year long,” Sibula said. “The team has jumped on his back and he carried them.”
His fellow teammate Noah Reiter agreed.
“He had an amazing day,” Reiter said. “All I did was tell him to keep his composure and that’s what he did.”