A close call cost King the game against Steinbrenner and the right to advance in the Saladino Tournament last week, but that’s not all.
Second baseman Tanner Williams was ejected for swearing at the umpire after that call and, per FHSAA policy, was given a six-week suspension that will run through April 23, the first day district tournaments can start, FHSAA spokesman Corey Sobers said. Williams, a junior, was one of the Lions’ top offensive threats, hitting .394 with a home run and eight RBIs.
Additionally, since King has had three Level 2 or higher unsportsmanlike conduct suspensions this school year, the Lions received a $250 fine, Sobers said. Per Policy 18.104.22.168 of the FHSAA handbook, the school is given a written warning after the first such suspension announcing the $250 fine for any subsequent violations.
The call in question came last Tuesday in the bottom of the eighth inning of a 2-2 tie between King and Steinbrenner. The Warriors were at bat, and the bases were loaded — thanks to three straight hit by pitches — with two out. Steinbrenner’s Kevin Merrell hit a grounder to shortstop Devon Pedro, who fielded it cleanly and threw to Williams at second base, The umpire, though called Steinbrenner DH Cole Gordon safe as he slid into second, much to the dismay of Williams and King coach Jim Macaluso, and Steinbrenner won 3-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals via a tiebreaker.
“Usually that’s a bang-bang play,” Macaluso said after the game. “You usually see that they’re going to call him out because it’s so close.”
King (6-6, 2-2) is tied for third with Strawberry Crest in the Class 6A, District 11 standings. The Lions go to Seffner to play the Chargers (8-3, 2-2) Tuesday. Both teams trail Sickles (7-5, 3-1) and Saladino champion Jefferson (12-3, 4-0) in district play. Macaluso couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.