OMAHA, Neb. — Ohio State’s first run against Iowa during their second-round Big Ten Conference tournament game Friday shouldn’t have counted.
The Buckeyes took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning at TD Ameritrade Park when base-runner Ronnie Dawson’s arm and head appeared to make contact with Iowa’s Nick Roscetti while the shortstop attempted to throw to first to complete a double play.
According to the NCAA baseball rule book, contact is OK if a runner slides “in a direct line between the two bases.” Further, the rules define “directly into a base” meaning “the runner’s entire body (feet, legs, trunk and arms) must stay in a straight line between the bases.”
That was not the case with Dawson, who sprawled into Roscetti’s path after pitcher Tyler Peyton fielded a grounder and threw to second base. The batter, cleanup man Troy Kuhn, officially reached first base on a fielder’s choice and Craig Nennig scored the game’s first run.
Would Kuhn have beaten Roscetti’s throw to first anyway? It doesn’t matter. The rule book in the same “force-slide rule” section says “whether the defense could have completed the double play has no bearing on the applicability of this rule.”
Iowa coach Rick Heller unsuccessfully argued with second-base umpire Perry Costello, who made the non-call. If Dawson had been ruled to make an illegal slide, by rule both he and the batter would have been ruled out. If ruled correctly, it would’ve been the third out of the inning — and still a 0-0 score.
Heller said Costello told him, "he thought his foot touched the base." (That's not the rule, though.)
"I think the rule says you have to slide straight into the base," Heller added. "In the college game, you can’t go outside the line at all.”
A Big Ten spokesman said umpires would be unavailable for comment because it was a judgment call. Ultimately, the run didn't matter, other than maybe forcing Heller to use extra pitching. The Hawkeyes rallied to win, 5-4, in 10 innings.