The Nova Titans baseball team has taken its fight to the legal system to correct what they perceive as an injustice.
Meanwhile, St. Thomas Aquinas, which was awarded the win in a game interrupted by rain, understands Nova’s pain. But the Raiders are looking ahead to Tuesday’s Class 7A regional final against Royal Palm Beach.
That, in a nutshell, is what’s going on with Nova, which has filed an emergency injunction to try to force the resumption of Tuesday night’s regional semifinal game, and Aquinas.
Nova was one strike away from defeat when Jose Oliva lifted a 2-2 pitch for a two-run homer, giving the Titans a 5-4 lead with two outs in the top of the seventh inning.
But while Oliva was rounding the bases, a light drizzle became a heavy thunderstorm, and the game was halted. Umpires awarded the game to the Raiders because they led at the end of the last complete inning, 4-2.
"Our kids were disheartened," Nova Coach Pat McQuaid said. "It hurts the kids, and we are supposed to be in the kids business.
"It’s a travesty, but it’s in the courts’ hands now. We’re just trying to fight for our kids."
McQuaid said even if the legal challenge is unsuccessful, he would still like the rule to be changed so that, in the future, playoff games are played to their completion.
Both McQuaid and Aquinas Coach Troy Cameron stressed that were the game to be continued – which seems unlikely at this point – anything could happen and a Titans victory would be far from assured.
"We had the top of our batting order coming up, and (Nova) hadn’t gotten them out (consistently) all night," Cameron said.
Cameron also said he thought that the rain affected his team in the top of the seventh and that the umpires would have called the game sooner had it not been so close to being completed.
"I don’t blame (Nova for filing the injunction)," Cameron said. "They are doing everything they can to keep the game going. But the rule is the rule for a reason. I’m not really paying attention to it – I’m focused on Royal Palm Beach."
Corey Sobers, a media relations specialist for the Florida High Schools Activities Association, said his organization follows the rules set forth by the National Federation of High School Association.
The rule exists, Cameron said, because of travel issues that can occur in some games, even though that wasn’t a problem with neighboring schools such as Aquinas and Nova.
"Do I think the rule is stupid? One thousand percent," Cameron said. "Their kid (Oliva) got the type of hit that everybody dreams of with two strikes and two outs.
"But we never got our chance (in the bottom of the seventh), and that’s not fair to my kids."
Ultimately, Cameron said, Aquinas played Nova four times this season and won all of those games.
"The better team won," Cameron said.
McQuaid is equally proud of his players.
"Our kids have been competitive all year in every game," he said. "To come back like we did in dramatic fashion was special."