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Fan catches home run ball, sparks interference debate

6/18/2006

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.

BACKS TO THE WALL ... AGAIN:
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."

STILL WAITING:
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.

SHORT HOPS:
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.