Just when you thought you’ve seen everything on the diamond, college baseball is there to prove you wrong.
Thanks to an umpire’s deep pocket and a pitcher with pinpoint accuracy in an Arizona State-Fairfield baseball game at the NCAA Austin Regional in Austin, Texas, we’ve now witnessed another incident of bizarreness.
Ball Gets Stuck in Umpire’s Front Pocket
Fairfield pitcher Eli Oliphant released fastball that must have crossed up his catcher in the top of the sixth inning on Sunday.
The ball zoomed past his glove and snuck into home plate Derek Mollica’s front pocket. Fairfield catcher Matt Venuto frantically looked for the ball, expecting it to be rolling to the wall behind him, but it was nestled in Mollica’s shirt the entire time.
No one — not even the umpire — knew where the ball went at first.
“I have never seen that before,” ESPN play-by-play announcer Bob Wischusen said on the call.
“That makes two of us,” color commentator Gregg Olson replied.
What’s even wilder is that Mollica ruled the bizarre play a wild pitch and awarded ASU a run on the play. Arizona State’s Drew Swift was on third base and scored, giving the Sun Devils a 7-6 lead.
Fairfield went on to win the game despite the free run, but their NCAA Tournament run was ultimately ended by Texas later that night.
To be quite honest, I had no idea that if a pitch gets stuck in an umpire’s front shirt pocket it can be ruled a wild pitch. It seems like it was a judgement call, and I think it was the right one. That ball would’ve gone to the backstop if Mollica wasn’t there.