A baseball score of 29-2 has many names: Landslide, rout, drubbing, blowout or massacre. But a teachable moment?
What lessons can be learned from a beat down of that magnitude?
I asked the coaches of Casa Grande (the victor) and Santa Rosa (the vanquished) what exactly happened on Casa’s home field Wednesday afternoon and both said this: It’s not what it looks like.
“It looks disrespectful,” said first-year Casa coach Chad Fillinger. “There were no hard feelings after the game. We apologized.”
No apology necessary, insisted Paige Dumont, now in his eighth season as coach at Santa Rosa.
“The Casa coach at no point disrespected us,” he said. “It was handled well. I have no complaints at all.”
Casa Grande is 13-4 overall and 8-0 in the North Bay League. They are ranked fifth in the North Coast Section.
Santa Rosa is clearly struggling. The Panthers are 0-18 overall and 0-9 in the NBL. They have scored 49 runs while allowing 210. They have endured their fair share of blowouts this season: a 21-5 loss to California of San Ramon in their season opener, a 22-2 loss to Maria Carrillo last week, and then Wednesday’s 29-2 game.
But when I asked Dumont if Casa should have done more to slow the bleeding or if Carrillo should have pulled back in that contest last week, he was adamant: No.
“In the world of baseball, if there is a passed ball, it’s more disrespectful if you don’t take a bag,” he said. “It’s more of an embarrassing slap in the face.”
When Carrillo started to pile up the runs on the Panthers last week, coach Sam Bruno tried to put the brakes on. He told his kids to take only one base when clearly the opportunity was there for more.
“(Dumont) saw that I was intentionally holding runners up and not running up the score,” he said. “He wanted us to still play and said, ‘We are not going to take offense if you keep playing the game.’”
Bruno can empathize. His Pumas got pummeled so badly in the third game of the season that the game was called after 4½ innings. That loss dropped the Pumas to 0-3. It became a turning point.
“I was almost happy as a coach that we got 10-run ruled and kind of deservedly got booted off the field. It allowed us to dig deep and be who we are,” he said.
The Pumas have won 12 of their last 14 games and are now in second place behind Casa Grande in the NBL.
But the 10-run, so-called “Mercy Rule” that was invoked in Carrillo’s 13-3 loss to Napa doesn’t exist in NBL baseball. It’s there in softball, but not in baseball.
In softball, a team is declared the winner when one team has a lead of 10 runs or more after 4½ innings if the visiting team is behind or after five innings if either team is behind by 10.
At a preseason meeting, league baseball coaches nixed adding the rule. And it might surprise folks to know who made the strongest case not to use it.
IF YOU GO
What: North Bay League Championships
Where: Santa Rosa Junior College
When: 4 p.m. Friday, 500-yard freestyle; preliminary races start 9:30 am. Saturday; finals start at 2 p.m.