WEST WARWICK — To the perhaps three dozen fans on hand, it was a truly bizarre closing to a long day at McCarthy Field.
Those stragglers ended up going home early after Rhode Island American Legion Senior Division Commissioner Jim Foster ruled that Navigant Post 85’s opponent, East Bay/Riverside Post 10, had used an ineligible player during Wednesday night’s winners’ bracket semifinal of the state tourney.
Therefore, under national Legion rules, Post 10 had to forfeit the game; that meant Navigant would face Upper Deck Post 86-14, which earlier in the day had defeated R&R Construction of Newport, 9-3, in another winners’ bracket semi.
After the top of the first inning, one in which East Bay had left two runners in scoring position but Navigant righty E.J. Torres had escaped with a groundout, co-skippers Buster Perreault and Jim Gauthier approached the umpiring crew and stated Post 10 had utilized an ineligible player.
His name, it was learned later, is center fielder Alex Hurley, who batted third and walked in the first.
Manager Ed McNaught explained to the umpires and Foster that Hurley had played for the squad all season, but there must have been a mistake made when McNaught sent his roster – as is necessary – to national headquarters.
“Before the tournament started, Jim and I went onto the national Web site and wrote down all of the players from each team we could face in this (event),” Perreault stated after the forfeit was deemed official. “Hurley was not listed, so we protested the game after he had that one at-bat.
“Ed said that he had played for him all year; we were saying he wasn’t on their roster,” he added. “Jim Foster went on the Web site and told (the officials he was speaking to on his cell phone) that the kid was listed. We did the same thing last year (when Navigant won the state title).
“The only thing that we wanted was for him to be removed from the game, and we play the game like we were scheduled to. If they had, we’d still be playing. The sad part of it is we were never looking for a forfeit. Now they’ll play in a losers’ bracket game (today); they will do so, I’m assuming, without (Hurley).
“Because he played in this game, the powers-that-be said it was against national rules. I still think it’s sad.”
With the forfeit win, Navigant will now battle Upper Deck in the winners’ bracket final tonight at 7 at McCarthy Field.