His Volunteer teammate greet Brad Halderman (17) after his first-inning home run against Cherokee on Friday in Church Hill. (Ned Jilton II photo)
CHURCH HILL — It took eight innings and a controversial call, but the Volunteer baseball team picked up its first win of the season Friday night, edging Cherokee 6-5.
The rivalry game didn't look like it would end contentiously after the Falcons had built an early 5-0 lead. But after seven innings, the score was tied at 5 and extra innings were in store.
Then came the bottom of the eighth, when the Falcons (1-5) had bases loaded with two outs.
Brad Halderman, on base via a walk, got the go-ahead sign to steal home. While the action was playing out at the plate and all attention on the out-or-safe call, the outfield umpire called a balk on Chiefs relief pitcher Daniel Owen.
It was one of three balks called on Cherokee pitching on the night.
Halderman was awarded the base and Volunteer took the win.
"I had no intention of trying to steal home but coach asked if I wanted to steal," Halderman said. "The pitcher saw me take off and then I didn't see the balk as I turned my head."
"That was a first for me as a coach and player to end the game on a balk," said Cherokee coach Matt Carter. "We saw it different from the umpires. I think my guy Daniel Owens did an outstanding job to get to that point. I think he stepped off and we got him at the plate. But the umpire thought differently.
"It's tough for the kids to not be able to win or lose it."
Scoring the winning run capped a successful night for Halderman. He led off the game with a solo home run and then pitched 3 2-3 innings of relief to pick up his first win. He allowed no hits and struck out four.
"We will take a win any way we get it," said Volunteer coach Daris Green. "I thought the balk call was correct. It seemed like his foot got caught on the rubber and he kind of stumbled, but that was from my vantage point."
The controversial call overshadowed Owens' effort. He came on in relief in the third inning and allowed only two hits. He also reached base three times in four plate appearances on a double, fielder's choice and a walk for the Chiefs (3-6).
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