Championship games often end with a round of fireworks. For the 30th annual New Orleans Synagogue Softball League championship game on Wednesday night, the fireworks were on the field.
As Shir Chadash rallied in the seventh inning, a runner’s interference call nullified what would have been the tying run and became the third out, ending both the rally and the championship game, giving Touro Synagogue the title.
Shir Chadash Rabbi Ethan Linden called it an “ignoble end,” and said in his weekly email to congregants that “an entire Synagogue Softball League season should never end on a call of runners’ interference.”
Richard Epstein, commissioner of the league and captain of Touro's team, explained the play in question in an email to every team captain, and said the umpires made the correct call. The base umpire “is not only a highly experienced umpire but also the president of the Veterans Umpire Association.”
Touro entered the final inning leading 9-6. Two early inning runs narrowed the score to 9-8, with runners on first and second. The Shir Chadash batter then hit one back to the mound, and the pitcher threw to second to get the runner from first base for the second out. That runner, Epstein explained, “came into the Touro second baseman standing up, with arms in the air, such that the Shir base runner made contact with the throwing arm of the Touro second baseman trying to throw to first for the double play.”
With the arm-to-arm contact, the runner was called for interference, the penalty for which is the completion of the double play, which in this case was the third out.
The runner who had been on second came around to home plate, but not before the interference call was made, so that tying run did not count.
As both teams assembled around second base, the base umpire conferred with the home plate umpire, who confirmed the interference and ruled the game over.
This was the first ever night game for the league. The championship had been postponed because of inclement weather from its usual mid-July time frame. All the games are held at Girard Playground in Metairie.
Before the championship game, Touro had ousted two-time defending champion Northshore Jewish Congregation, 8-4.
The league now has nine synagogues participating, including the two in Baton Rouge, with about 160 participants, including six women.