The GHSA Board of Trustees voted 5-2 Monday morning to approve an appeal by Johns Creek High School of last week's Class 6A state semifinal baseball game, originally won by Lee County 5-3 in eight innings.
The approval means the game will revert back to the bottom of the seventh inning with Johns Creek winning 4-3. That outcome ties the series at a game apiece. A third and deciding game has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Wednesday at Lee County, exactly one week after the contoversial ending that prompted the appeal.
The controversy arose during the seventh inning of the second game of the doubleheader in Leesburg last Wednesday. Lee County won the first game 7-4, but Johns Creek appeared to even the series when the Gladiators received a bases-loaded walk with the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning of the second game.
Lee County coach Brandon Brock approached the umpires with the contention that the Johns Creek runner on second base had not completed the play by touching third base. After a lengthy discussion, the umpires ruled that Brock was correct and, therefore, the winning run was disallowed. The game then proceeded into extra innings and Lee County won 5-3 to apparently sweep the series 2-0 and advance to this week’s state championship game against Pope.
Citing inappropriate conduct by the umpires at the end of regulation play, Johns Creek appealed the ruling of GHSA Executive Director Gary Phillips that the game must stand as played. GHSA counsel Alan Connell ruled the appeal could go forward, so a four-member Appeal Board convened at the GHSA office in Thomaston last Friday to hear the case.
After a 90-minute presentation by both schools, the Appeal Board then voted 3-1 to deny Johns Creek High School's appeal. Johns Creek officials indicated immediately after the meeting that they would appeal to the full GHSA Board of Trustees, the final step in the GHSA appeals process.
Seven members of the 10-member Board of Trustees convened Monday at 10:00 a.m., in Thomaston to hear the appeal. Board member Wes Taylor recused himself since he was once the principal at Lee County High School, and two members of the board simply could not make the meeting on such short notice. Only six members of the 10-member panel are needed for a quorum, so the meeting proceded with seven present: Glenn White, Lisa Moore Williams, Gary Long, Jim Finch, Joe Lancaster, Don Corr and Jesse Crews.
Crews originally made a motion, seconded by Finch, to deny the Johns Creek appeal again. But that motion failed 5-2.
White then made a motion, seconded by Williams, to approve the appeal and it passed by the same 5-2 vote (Crews and Finch voting "no").