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 Conspiracy or Not, Monday Was Strange Night at Northeastern

What started out as comical quickly changed to strange, and within minutes developed into what I’m suggesting could be an actual conspiracy.

I don’t know who was conspiring, and I’m even more clueless as to what they were actually conspiring to do, but it was clear, things weren’t normal at the baseball sectional Monday.

The scene resembled that of an episode of the television sitcom Seinfeld, complete with humor, controversy, physical assault, and my own “second spitter theory.”

The story unfolds on a dark and stormy afternoon at a high school baseball diamond just east of Fountain City, called Northeastern High School. That’s where the Knightstown Panthers were playing the Cambridge City Lincoln Golden Eagles in game three of the sectional’s first round.

The public address announcer was introducing the members of both baseball teams. According to the PA guy, Panther team members included Mike Hoist, Jordan Bearhop, Nolan Hale and Jordan Cajun, to name a few. I didn’t hear all of them due to the laughter, and dismay, of the Knightstown crowd.

What is a “bearhop” anyway? I’m getting images of Pennsylvania brown bears playing leapfrog.

At the end of the second inning, Knightstown assistant coach Jim Kayajan, the father of player “Jordan Cajan,” was ejected by the infield umpire over what will forever be known as the “Mom, he spit at me!” incident. I questioned several people, including the umpire, and never really got a clear answer as to what happened.

But apparently, a player spat in the general direction of the baseball field’s home plate. The umpire, possibly sensitive to the feelings of what might have been a depressed home plate, thought the player was being disrespectful. So following a brief encounter, he tossed out coach Kayajan, who had made the mistake of trying to figure out what the heck the umpire was mad about.

There may be no crying in baseball, but there’s always been spitting, although my mom wouldn’t let me do it when I played little league baseball. “If you ever want to pitch in another baseball game, I suggest you get out of that nasty habit right now,” she said.

My older brother, Kenny, gave me great advice on the matter.

“Don’t spit you moron.”

Anyway, the umpire ejected the coach over the incident, and he wasn’t very happy about that. However, that’s the way it is with umpires. Those guys are just like the kid in the neighborhood who happens to own the only baseball. If he gets mad and goes home, the game is over. I remember Randy Anderson doing that once, and he learned it from Scott Morgan.

Anyway, there were varying stories as to what happened and who may have been the actual “spitter.” Conversations swirling in various corners reminded me of the classic episode of the sitcom “Seinfeld”, in which Kramer and Newman accuse Keith Hernandez of spitting on them. Jerry came up with the “second-spitter” theory, which could easily be applied to this situation simply because of the more than 90 players and coaches who were on the field Monday, almost all of them spat at some time.

After the introduction of the phantom-named players and the ejection of a Knightstown coach, things really began to get weird. Foul balls started flying toward Panther fans sitting in the bleachers, narrowly missing them and careening off the seats. Several misguided balls crashed into the fence directly in front of Knightstown followers who were in lawn chairs.

Then, after several near misses, Knightstown fan Lori Martin, who was standing at the concession stand a considerable distance from the diamond, suffered a direct hit in the leg by a foul ball. The irony? Lori is the wife of Knightstown head coach Donnie Martin.

Are you starting to see the pattern here?

One coach is removed over the “Mom, he spit at me!” incident, and a second coach is distracted when his wife is the victim of an incidental (yea, right) foul ball (yea, right) assault.

Up against those odds, it’s surprising that the Panthers were able to get the win and advance in the sectional, but somehow they managed a 3-1 victory.

Adding to the conspiracy theory, Panther coaches were also misled as to who the team would play in the second round of the sectional. According to the IHSAA’s official website, where high school athletic directors report the results to the official governing body, Union County defeated Hagerstown 3-2 in the late game Monday. As of 10:45 Tuesday morning, coach Martin was under the assumption his team would, in fact, be facing the Patriots.

However, those reports were inaccurate because Hagerstown actually won Monday night by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to steal the game, 3-2.

Hmm. At that point we’re preparing for Union County and playing Hagerstown.

Is it still paranoia if everyone really is out to get you?

The Panthers were scheduled to play Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinals, which were moved to the stadium used by the minor league Richmond Roosters. If they win, they’ll play in the sectional championship Friday.

Weather will ultimately decide if those games go on as scheduled. And as if more irony was needed, throughout most of the day Tuesday, it was spitting rain.


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