In the annals of sports, there are heartbreaking losses—last year's Super Bowl; Game 6 of the 1986 World Series; the last 70 years of Maple Leafs hockey—and then there are losses that feel as if your heart has been torn out of your chest and kicked directly into the sun. This game—Game 4 of the independent league American Association's championship series between the Wichita Wingnuts and the Winnipeg Goldeyes—is definitely the latter.
Let's set the scene. The Wingnuts hold a 3–2 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4 in the best-of-five series, which they also lead, two games to one. With a runner on second and two outs, Wichita closer Ryan Kussmaul gets Goldeyes second baseman Casey Turgeon to ground out to third to end it. Ballgame over, series over—or so the Wingnuts thought.
The Wingnuts stream out of their dugout to celebrate their title, but they don't get very far before home plate umpire Joe Stegner informs them that, actually, the game's still going: He had called a balk on Kussmaul before his last pitch, negating the groundout and sending the tying run to third. (Pity the poor relievers, by the way, who made the long run in only to be told to turn around and head back to the bullpen almost immediately after getting to the mound.)
The at-bat goes on, and of course, Turgeon hits a double to left-center just beyond the dive of outfielder Jacob Morris to tie the game and send it into extra innings.
But the misery doesn't end there for the Wingnuts. The game then goes on another eight innings—17 in total—before Winnipeg walks off with the series-tying victory courtesy an RBI double by rightfielder David Rohm, with (who else) Turgeon scoring the winning run.
The good news for Wichita: There's still a Game 5 to be played. I imagine that, if they win, they'll be double checking with every umpire on the field before starting their celebration.