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NCAA Tournament Umpire Chides Player Who Admired Clutch Grand Slam

In Tuesday’s Hot Clicks: a very sensitive college ump, two monster dunks by Blake Griffin and more.

Lighten up, Blue

Dallas Baptist third baseman Andrew Benefield hit the biggest home run of his life on Monday, so, of course, he took his sweet time getting out of the box.

DBU faced Oregon State in a winner-take-all game to determine who would advance to the NCAA Super Regionals. The Beavers got out to an early 5–0 lead, but the Patriots cut it to 5–2 in the sixth on a home run by Ryan Wrobleski. After OSU’s Nathan Burns walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, Benefield stepped to plate representing the go-ahead run. He turned on an inside pitch and crushed a no-doubt grand slam to give his team the lead.

That was long gone. A ball hit that far at such a crucial point in the game is worthy of being admired, and that’s what Benefield did. As it flew, he stared it down and nodded his head while the bench went wild. Home plate umpire Scott Cline didn’t appreciate Benefield’s showboating and took off his mask to yell at Benefield and tell him to start running to first.

Isn’t the umpire’s job to enforce the written rules of baseball? Why did Cline feel compelled to chastise Benefield for taking a couple of seconds to bask in the triumph of his monster dinger? It’s not like he was refusing to run to first and holding up the game. The celebration wasn’t even that ostentatious. There was no big bat flip, no comments directed at the pitcher or opposing dugout. He just took a beat to watch the ball fly. It’s ridiculous for an umpire to step in and yell at a player so aggressively for anything within the rules, forget something that has become a normal part of the game.

The Patriots extended their lead in the next inning on a home run by River Town (who started his trip around the bases very promptly) and went on to win, 8–5. It’s their first appearance in the Super Regional in program history. They’ll face the winner of Tuesday morning’s Virginia–Old Dominion game. 

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