A balk is one of the things in baseball that few understand and even fewer can spot out.
This was evident in the crowd at USF on Saturday night during the second win for USF in a three-game sweep against Alcorn State as the home plate umpire barked out “Balk!”
Many people in the stands threw up their hands in a mixture of confusion and disbelief while the game’s tying run trotted home with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
The Bulls beat the Braves, 3-2, in the second game of the series that went 14 innings.
As defined by Major League Baseball, a balk occurs when the pitcher is touching the plate and “makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery.”
It had occurred at precisely the worst possible time due to a miscommunication between the USF sophomore catcher Blake Sydeski and senior pitcher Chad Taylor.
As Taylor began his motion toward the plate, Sydeski stood up with his hands in the air motioning for Taylor to stop. It seemed as though Sydeski had called time, but the umpire awarded a balk to Alcorn State, which tied the game.
Had the balk not been called, the game would have been over on a groundout on the next play. Coach Lelo Prado commented on what happened during the balk.
“We practice that all the time,” Prado said. “People try to get us to balk. Blake stood up, I don’t know why he stood up, and then Chad stopped because he was standing up.”
USF would win the game in 14 innings on a walk-off home run by senior Alex Mendez. Despite the victory, Prado said he wasn’t very pleased with his team’s performance.
“We’ll take the win, but nobody in that dugout better be happy the way it happened,” Prado said.
The 14 inning nail-biter was sandwiched in between two blowouts in which USF combined for 27 runs. Key contributors to the offensive show were sophomore Kyle Teaf and sophomore Buddy Putnam.
Teaf had multiple hits and three RBI on Friday night, while Putnam had a three run blast on Sunday afternoon when the Bulls toppled the Braves (8-31) in a 12-0 shutout.
“We’re having great approaches at the plate and when they get locked in they do a good job,” Prado said about the offense this series.
USF (22-14) will begin a road trip with a one-game series at Stetson on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m