Moorpark district looking to protest CIF title game dispute 

Hart celebrates after winning the Division 2 CIF SS Championship on Friday at Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium. Photo courtesy of Cole Franquiz Photography.

The final inning of Friday night’s CIF Southern Section Division 2 baseball championship, in which Hart High School was declared the winner after a controversial call by the umpire crew, has left fans of the Moorpark Musketeers upset and uncertain — and prompted numerous heated exchanges on social media. 

During the seventh inning of the game, Moorpark shortstop Taylor Busch launched a deep shot to left field that likely would be a home run in most high school yards. The play was momentarily ruled what would have been a championship-sealing, walk-off 2-run homer, but the call was reversed after Moorpark had already dogpiled on the field. 

The umpires ruled the ball bounced fair and out of play, hence a ground rule double was called. Many Moorpark fans believe the ball cleared the 400-foot fence at Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium, whether they witnessed the play live or saw videos of the big hit on social media. 

Many others are arguing it bounced out of play and should’ve been ruled a foul. 

The ball bounces to the left of the foul pole in the bottom of the seventh inning of the CIF SS Division 2 championship game. Photo by Mike Wertz / Courtesy of Hart Athletics

Hart was able to retire the next three straight batters, stranding both the potential game-tying and winning runs to win the sectional title. Afterward, Moorpark fans took to social media in a frenzy. 

Moorpark parents, fans and community members were outraged with the officiating of the tough call and were calling on Hart to forfeit the title to Moorpark. 

Hart High School issued a statement from Principal Jason d’Autremont saying the umpires made the correct call. 

“It is unfortunate that various online communities (are) saying otherwise, only making matters worse,” said the statement from d’Autremont. “Fifteen-, 16- and 17-year-old kids are being unfairly treated and called liars/cheaters, which is unfortunate and untrue, and receiving nasty private messages in their social media accounts. This is unacceptable.” 

Any form of instant replay is not allowed in CIF baseball, so the play was a judgment call for the umpires to make. 

The Moorpark Unified School District announced it will attempt to appeal the decision to the CIF.  

“MUSD will appeal the final outcome of last night’s Division 2 Southern Section CIF Baseball Championship game. We will provide more information as this process moves forward. Thank you, Dr. Kelli Hays, Superintendent , Zaid Bakoo, MHS Principal, Robert Dearborn, MHS Athletic Director,” reads a tweet from the Moorpark Unified School District. 

According to the Thousand Oaks Acorn, the baseball team met with the school district on Monday to discuss potential forms of protest. 

The statement issued by Hart High School cited photos from Hart’s team photographer as evidence that the ball bounced before clearing the outfield wall. 

“It is also unfortunate that the Moorpark community feels that they were robbed,” reads the statement from d’Autremont. “I understand you may feel this way, but hopefully these photos let you see this was not the case and that the umpire crew did the right thing in making sure they got the call right. In any high-stakes competition, the pressure of making the right call or making a play during crunch time is under a microscope and to have a championship won or lost this way does not sit well on either side.” 

The photos, and certain videos online, appear to show that the umpire made the right call, as it appears the ball’s trajectory takes it to the ground inside the outfield wall. However, other angles of Busch’s bomb make it appear as if it goes over the fence. 

No additional updates were provided by the Moorpark district on Monday. 

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