FCBL takes away Knights’ rain-shortened win; game continued Wednesday

Staff file photo by TOM KING FCBL Commissioner Chris Hall has ruled that Nashua and Bristol must continue this past Saturday's game that was originally called a rain-shortened Silver Knights win.

NASHUA – Mother Nature and two umpires giveth, and the Futures Collegiate League taketh away.

Take a win off the Nashua Silver Knights total – for now. Futures League Commissioner Chris Hall announced on Monday he has upheld a protest by the Bristol Blues that umpires James Dion and Scott Belville prematurely called an end to Friday night’s contest between the Blues and Knights after a brief rain delay. Nashua was leading 2-1 after five innings, thus it went down as an official game.

Instead, it will be resumed at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday with Bristol set to bat in the top of the sixth, trailing 2-1. However, instead of the game going nine innings, it will be only a seven inning game, as will the regularly scheduled game at Holman that will follow 30 minutes after the end of the resumed game.

Originally the Silver Knights were going for a 5:30 start, but the Nashua Police and Fire Department have their annual softball game set for Holman at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

“We had to be a little creative (with the seven innings instead of nine) but we felt we had to do what is fair to all parties,” Hall said.

Before Hall’s ruling, Nashua was 19-29 going into Monday night’s game at Pittsfield, 1.5 games up on North Shore for the sixth and final FCBL playoff spot. The Navigators lost 8-5 to Martha’s Vineyard in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Monday. Now that lead was reduced to just a game (18-29) before the Knights contest at Pittsfield and the Navs’ nightcap. Bristol was originally 25-22 going into Monday’s game at Brockton, a team the Blues led by 2.5 games for the third seed.

The umpires, according to Silver Knights general manager Rick Muntean, said Saturday night that they did not want to risk “scholarship players” in wet conditions. But Hall came up to Holman Stadium from his Chelmsford, Mass.home once the Blues contacted him, inspected the field, and felt it was playable.

Even Muntean said he was surprised by the umpires quick decision, although there was lightning in the area.

“Who knows what would have happened, but we felt they could have gotten another hour, hour-and-a-half in,” Hall said. “Also, protocol wasn’t followed. The umpires did not communicate with anyone (the league). They made the decision without walking the field.”

What is supposed to happen, Hall said, is that both managers, the home GM, and an umpire should walk/inspect the field conditions, and then let the umpire reach a conclusion. While the decision is in the hands of the umpires, they have to communicate with the teams as well as contact Hall, and that was not done, he said.

“We do feel the game should have been started again,” Hall said. “They made too quick of a decision without communicating with anybody.”

Muntean said he couldn’t completely disagree with Hall’s ruling, even though it temporarily takes a win away from Nashua.

“It’s an extremely unusual situation,” Muntean said. “I can see both sides. The game was official after five innings. But I was there, and the umpire did not follow normal protocol.”

Muntean also said Hall took all the right steps to reach his decision, talking to all involved, including Muntean and Silver Knights manager B.J. Neverett.

“You have to do your due diligence, and Hall did that,” Muntean said. “He did his work and you have to give him credit.

“We’ve just got to hang on and get six stinkin’ outs.”

Neverett said Sunday that if forced to continue the game, he would have reliever Cam Cruz, who pitched a scoreless inning on Sunday, take the mound to start the sixth.

Hall reduced Wednesday’s games from nine innings to seven due in part to the fact that Nashua would have three doubleheaders – including Sunday’s sweep of Brockton – in the season’s final week. After Wednesday, the Knights have a single game Thursday at Holman vs. Worcester, but in Saturday’s final regular season home game, Nashua and Pittsfield will resume another suspended game in the third inning at 3:05 p.m. Both are also reduced to seven innings with the nightcap set to start around the original 6:05 p.m. time, Muntean said.

What also made Hall disagree with the umpires’ decision is how well groomed Holman Stadium is. A stadium worker had told him when he inspected the field Saturday night that it could have been ready in a half hour or so after the rain stopped.

“That field is so well taken care of by the city,” he said. “We moved the All-Star game one day after rain and the field was perfect to play.”