FARMINGTON — Naa'taanii's hopes of becoming the host team for the Connie Mack World Series appear to have come to an end after the team was disqualified from the Connie Mack City Tournament.
During the team's second-round game against the Pumpjacks Tuesday night at the Farmington Sports Complex, it was ruled that Naa'taanii pitcher Carlos Dominguez went over the 105-pitch limit during the game, which Naa'taanii won 7-2.
Naa'taanii coach Dineh Benally said Dominguez's count was at 98 while the official scorekeeper had the pitch count at 119.
"They're telling me my pitcher pitched over the number, and they're not letting me challenge what they're claiming," Benally said. "We won the game pretty handily, and now they're doing this."
Benally refused to sign the scorebook after the game because of the pitch count controversy.
He added that he had requested to see the official scorebook later, but no one from the Farmington Amateur Baseball Congress, the governing body that runs the tournament, had allowed him to view it to compare it to the scorebook Naa'taanii kept.
Photos of both the official scorebook from the FABC and the scorebook Naa'taanii kept were provided to The Daily Times. In comparing the two books, only the pitch count in the third inning matched up. Additionally, Naa'taanii's book did not report outs or at-bats for the sixth and seventh innings, merely noting that the pitcher threw 15 pitches in each of those innings.
Benally said he and his team were informed the game resulted in a forfeit on Naa'taanii's part about 40 minutes after it ended and attempted to petition the ruling, but he said the FABC refused to hear the petition.
Martin Bayless and Jeff Groves, the president and vice president of the FABC, respectively, said the FABC is not required to hear the petition siting that the rule regarding pitch count is clearly stated in the rule book, that all coaches were explained the rule at the start of the tournament and there is no room for interpretation.
Bayless added that all coaches can ask the official scorekeeper for the current pitch count during the game, which Benally did not do.
"(Benally) violated the rules, and it was a forfeiture of the game, simple as that," Bayless said. "He has the same opportunity as every other coach in this tournament to check his pitching record against the official book, and he didn't take the opportunity to check the official pitch count."
This afternoon, Benally and his team showed up to Worley Field for the third-round game they would have played had Tuesday's 7-2 final score stood. The team got to the field early, occupied the first-base dugout and began to warm up as though it were scheduled to play the game.
Prior to the 5:30 p.m. start time, Farmington police officers arrived at the field, answering a call of potential trespassing by Benally and Naa'taanii. After close to 30 minutes of discussion between Benally and the officers, Lt. Matt Veith informed Benally that police would not take any action and would leave the dispute up to Benally and the FABC to resolve.
Bayless, who was at the field during the events, said he had no comment when asked about how the FABC and the tournament would move forward.
The two teams scheduled to play in Game 14 — 4-C Gamboa and the Pumpjacks — did not take the field at any point, rather the game was moved to the Farmington Sports Complex. 4-C Gamboa won the game 4-2. Naa'taanii sent its team onto the field and threw pitches despite there being no competition or umpires, operating under the assumption that with no opponent to play, it would win by forfeit.
Benally said he is not sure what will happen next and that what he's looking for now is a conversation with FABC officials.
"I just hope they'll talk to me," he said.
The FABC and Benally did meet later Wednesday evening and talked for close to two hours at the Farmington Recreation Center about the reasoning behind the disqualification and the events that followed.
Bayless said he and members of the FABC should have handled the situation better.
He said that an FABC representative should have been present after the game when Benally and Naa'taanii attempted to protest the ruling. Instead, the attempted protest took place over the phone. Bayless said that had someone from the FABC been at the field much of the confusion could have been avoided.
He also said that having the official scorebook available for comparison along with an FABC representative would have helped solve the issue of pitch count before things escalated.
In the end, the ruling to disqualify Naa'taanii from the tournament stood.
This article has been updated with new information.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.