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Controversial wild pitch sparks Crusaders' rally

Did it or didn't it?

That was the question following Zephyrhills' 9-0 loss to Bishop Kenny in the Class 4A semifinals.

So did the ball that Zephyrhills swears hit Matt Rumble's bat really, well, hit his bat in the fourth? Or was it a wild pitch like home plate umpire Lou Garofalo said, allowing Brad Buck to score?

"Should I tell the truth?" Rumble asked his coach when posed the questions afterward. "Yeah, it hit my bat."

That was of little consolation to the Bulldogs, some of whom blamed the play for costing them the game.

It keyed a five-run inning and broke the collective hearts of the vocal throng of fans, and apparently the spirit of the players.

"It really cost us the momentum," catcher Brooks Boyette said. "It got us all out of whack."

The play was the most bizarre of the state tournament. With runners on second and third, Brett Cimorelli threw a high fastball that appeared to hit Rumble's bat. Boyette did not chase it because he said he heard it hit the bat. Garofalo pulled out a new ball and tossed it to Cimorelli.

But as he did, Buck raced home to make it 2-0. Garofalo did not order Buck back to third, instead ruling the ball did not hit the bat.

"It's frustrating (for them)," pitcher Pat Rumble said. "It's something that the pitcher and catcher knew what happened and to know and not get the right call. And then we score all the runs after that "

Though Cimorelli's throwing error on a bunt put the runners on second and third and Jossie Aponte was picked off second base and the team had just one hit, the bulk of the post-game interview was spent on the call by Garofalo.

But Cimorelli put the play in perspective.

"Say what you will about the umps, but (Bishop Kenny) beat us."