Heading into the Friday contest against Torrington, Fagan noted the coaches were aware they had starting pitcher Matt Brown available for six innings of work. Pitchers at the state tournament were capped at a set amount of innings over a 48-hour period of time.
The problem came when, at some point during the game, the field scoreboard fell an inning behind. Thus, when Brown came out to pitch the seventh inning, the scoreboard showed the contest as only being in its sixth inning. Nobody in the Powell dugout realized the mistake and the team took the field believing it to be the sixth inning.
“It was our fault. We didn’t look at the scorebook. We were looking at the scoreboard instead,” said Fagan. “We should have known. The terrible thing is we didn’t even need Matt out there that inning. We were ahead by four runs at that point.”
While the innings gaffe escaped the notice of Torrington, Powell’s opponent in the contest, it didn’t go unnoticed by one of the other teams in the all-stars’ pool. Greybull-Basin protested the outcome, forcing Powell to have to vacate the win after tournament officials confirmed that Brown had thrown more than the allotted number of innings.
“We just gathered the kids and told them here’s the deal,” Fagan said of how he delivered the news of the protest’s outcome to his team. “We knew we still had a shot.”
The protest decision didn’t immediately eliminate Powell from competition. The team was forced to await the outcome of the night’s final game between Gillette and Greybull-Basin. A Gillette win in that game would still have allowed Powell to advance to the semifinals as the second team in its pool. When Greybull-Basin came up victorious in that game, they took the No. 2 seed from the pool and eliminated Powell from contention.
“Had the game stood, we’d have been playing Rawlins in the semifinals,” Fagan said. “If Gillette had won, we’d have been playing Cody.”
Cody went on to win the state tournament and will represent Wyoming in Pacific Northwest regional competition next month.
Powell opened the tournament with a 6-3 loss to Greybull-Basin. The team bounced back with a 10-9 victory over Gillette on the tournament’s second day.
“We came out flat for whatever reason against Greybull,” said Fagan. “I’m not sure if we left our bats somewhere on the mountain or back here in Powell, but we didn’t hit the ball the way we were capable. We started playing a lot better in the game against Gillette.”
With roughly a 50-50 split between 14-year-olds and 15-year-olds on the Powell roster, approximately half the members of this year’s all-star team will be eligible to come back for another crack at a state Babe Ruth title. Fagan, however, is calling this his final season.
“I was going to wait until the winter to make a decision,” said Fagan, who has coached two Powell teams to state championships and Pacific Northwest regional appearances, including a regional semifinal appearance in 2010. “If I’m getting too old to remember what inning it is, it’s time to step down. It’s a hard way to retire.”