Fan catches home run ball, sparks interference debate
OMAHA, Neb. -- A South Dakota teen on Sunday was one out away from becoming a part of College World Series trivia a la Jeffrey Maier.
Maier came to fame during the 1996 American League Championship Series when he deflected a fly ball hit by Derek Jeter into the crowd before Baltimore's Tony Tarasco gloved it. The hit was ruled a home run, tying a game the Yankees would win en route to a world title.
On a somewhat smaller stage -- Sunday's College World Series elimination game between Cal State Fullerton and Georgia Tech -- 17-year-old Jason Schmidt of Mitchell, S.D., caught a seventh-inning home run by Tech's Matt Wieters. Television replays were inconclusive as to whether Schmidt prevented left fielder Danny Dorn from catching the ball.
The homer gave Tech a 5-4 lead that would stand until Wieters, this time on the mound as the Yellow Jackets' closer, gave up three runs with two outs in the top of the ninth. The Titans went on to win 7-5.
Schmidt, wearing no shirt and a North Carolina Tar Heels hat, said he didn't think he interfered with the play.
"I thought it was a homer," Schmidt said. "I didn't feel his [Dorn's] glove."
Dorn said he couldn't tell if Schmidt interfered.
"I hit the wall, I didn't really feel anything," Dorn said. "Everything happened so quick."
Several fans around Schmidt said he did interfere and should have been ejected.
"Your hands were right on top of his glove," Fullerton fan Brandi Bird told Schmidt.
Georgia finds itself in a familiar situation entering Monday's game with Oregon State: facing elimination.
The Bulldogs dropped their College World Series opener to Rice on Saturday and now will play an elimination game for the sixth time in this NCAA tournament.
Georgia first faced elimination after dropping the second game of the Athens Regional to Florida State. The Bulldogs then won three straight, including two against the Seminoles, to advance to the super regional.
The Bulldogs were trounced 15-6 in their super regional opener against South Carolina but responded by winning two straight to advance to Omaha.
So while being one defeat away from packing it in is not the ideal situation, the Bulldogs are not altogether uncomfortable with it, center fielder Joey Side said.
"We've gone through it quite a few times already," Side said. "Right now we've just got to stick with our plan. Stay with the same thing we've been doing all year."
Miami's 11-1 victory over Oregon State on Saturday night left the Beavers still looking for their first College World Series win heading into Monday's meeting with Georgia.
To get the win the Beavers will have to recover from a performance against the Hurricanes that left several Oregon State players scratching their heads.
Beaver pitcher Dallas Buck called his performance against the Hurricanes -- during which he gave up seven runs in five innings -- the worst of his life.
Oregon State has gone two and out the previous two times it made the CWS -- including last season when the Beavers lost to 3-1 to Tulane and 4-3 to Baylor.
One of the few bright spots for Oregon State against Miami was Cole Gillespie extending his hitting streak to 17 games. ... In losing to Fullerton, Georgia Tech failed to win a game for the first time in its three trips to the College World Series. Conversely, Fullerton has now won at least one game in its last eight trips to the CWS. ... Following the Fullerton-Geogia Tech game, the ACC -- which placed a record four teams in the CWS field -- improved to 3-2 in the series. ... Georgia Tech's Wieters on Sunday became the first player to play catcher and pitch in one CWS game since The Citadel's Gettys Glaze did so against Fullerton in 1990.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press