“We did everything possible,” Higgins told The Dallas Morning News. “The national federation, which is the rule book we go by, says you have to play five innings before the game is considered official. That’s what I was worried about if you stop after three innings and somebody comes back and says, `Well, you guys didn’t play an official game.’”
While Texas coaches follow the rule of ending any game when a team is up by 10 runs after five innings, or 4 1/2 if the home team is ahead, there is another provision that can apply. Rule 4, Section 2, Article 4 of the National Federation of Baseball Rule Book _ used in Texas and most states _ says a game can be ended early with the agreement of both coaches and the umpire.
“It’s not ever been used to my knowledge,” said Mark Cousins, interim athletic director for the University Interscholastic League, the organization that oversees public high schools in Texas, and a former associate director in charge of baseball. “We don’t necessarily publicize the rule, but it’s been in there for a number of years.”
Elliot Hopkins is the baseball rules editor and national interpreter for the National Federation of State High School Associations. He said it was irresponsible that coaches wouldn’t be more versed in game-ending procedures, but the umpires should’ve known the rule _ or done something.
“We don’t put common sense in the rule book, but we hope they use it. Nor do we legislate integrity, but hopefully they use that as well,” Hopkins said. “With a game like this, you worry that a kid wouldn’t want to continue. He might say, ‘We just got smoked. I’m done.’ Nobody wants any of that to happen.”
It didn’t. All 17 Samuell players returned for practice the next day.
The Lake Highlands campus is four miles from Covenant School, which drew headlines two years ago when its girls basketball team beat the girls from Dallas Academy 100-0. The winning coach was fired.
Darlene Wolf Moore doesn’t recall that game being mentioned in the stands as Lake Highlands was routing Samuell. Her son, Ben Wolf, is a senior and the starting left fielder, and she is a staunch supporter of the Wildcats.
“It was nice to win, but that’s not the way anyone wants to win,” she said of the March 8 baseball game. “It was somewhat uncomfortable. We would’ve liked for it to end sooner.”
As far as she knows, no parents or fans asked Higgins to end it. Instead, the Lake Highlands fans began cheering for the Samuell kids, she said.
“When a popped ball was going to the outfield, we were saying, `Get it, get it,’” Moore said. “When they would miss a fly ball, we’d groan, ‘Ohhhhhhhhh.’ We were disappointed. … They kept on coming out every inning. It couldn’t have been easy. It sure did make you admire their gumption, their stamina, their dedication to their team.”
Higgins did try to stop the bleeding by ordering his players to go one base at a time.
What else could he have done?
Some coaches let kids experiment at a new position, but that risks injury. Some coaches let kids bat from the other side of the plate or simply bunting back to the mound and not running out hits, but that’s akin to giving up