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Let's set the scene: Last inning of a regional New York high school championship game on Saturday afternoon (we can argue in the comments, if you like, over whether this is "Upstate" or "Western New York"). Palmyra-Macedon is down to its last out, trailing by one, with the tying run on second base. Hornell, a heavy underdog coming in, is a strike away from the Section V title. They are just aching to celebrate. Aching very slightly too hard.

The strike three pitch is dropped, making it a live ball. The catcher attempts to tag the runner, and what it looks like happens is that the catcher turns back to confirm he made the tag, but sees the home plate ump still signaling what he thought was a standard strikeout. The ump then makes a safe signal to declare that the catcher had not tagged the runner, but by then the catcher has turned away to start celebrating. Oh, no. Oh no.

As Hornell players jump about on the mound, Pal-Mac runners alertly continue running. Someone is screaming, "There's two outs!" No one listens. The game is still on. The play is still live. The pitcher has been tackled by his jubilant teammates and is lying on the infield, in his head a champion. Gradually, a few Hornell players start to realize something's wrong. "Oh wait a minute," the broadcaster says. The tying run comes around to score. No one knows where the ball is. (I know where the ball is: sitting safely and ineffectively in the catcher's back pocket.)

"Hornell's gotta pay attention," the broadcaster says. The batter is circling the bases. The few Hornell players aware of what's happening gesture, frantically but futilely, for someone to get the ball. The batter scores the winning run. Pal-Mac are champions. Some Hornell players are still celebrating. Other have hit the Surrender Cobra. A Hornell coach comes out to argue with the ump. Jubilant Pal-Mac players rush out of their dugout. Everyone on both teams is wearing red. "I'm not sure what's going on here," the broadcaster says. "So, is this the way it's going to end?" Yes. Yes it is.

Now the big question: How do you score this play?

[Wellsville Sun]

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