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Waverly withdraws from state baseball tourney
July 31, 2013 Terry Gaston   

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Courtesy Photo/ The Waverly Class B Legion Baseball team was to play for the state championship July 31 when they coaches forfeited the game. Six team members were arrested on charges of vandalism and minor in possession of alcohol. According to American Legion activities rules, any misconduct by players results in a suspension. Waverly withdrew because the team was unable to fill its roster for the game.

Vandalism, MIP incident causes forfeit of championship game to Hickman-Norris

GERING – After earning the favorite’s role to win the American Legion Class B State Baseball Tournament, undefeated Hickman-Norris indeed was the team to take home the championship plaque and medals Wednesday from Oregon Trail Park.

Instead of having to defeat Lancaster County rival Waverly in Wednesday’s championship game, however, Hickman-Norris was awarded the championship when Waverly withdrew from the tournament following a vandalism incident Tuesday night in Scottsbluff.

Six Waverly players were arrested on vandalism and minor-in-possession charges, thus the team did not have enough players remaining to field a team to play for the state title Wednesday afternoon.

According to a report from the Scottsbluff Police Department, officers were called to the 3500 block of Avenue D late Tuesday night when a neighbor called police after witnessing two boys strike her mailbox with a baseball bat.

Immediately following, the two boys fled on foot, the report stated. They were last seen in the area of the Hampton Inn.

Investigators learned some of the state baseball tournament teams were staying at the motel. After identifying the two boys who vandalized the mailbox, investigators found evidence of the crime. They also contacted several team members who had consumed alcohol, resulting in six arrests.

The investigation is ongoing with additional reports of vandalized mailboxes from Sunday.

Waverly team members arrested and charged with minor in possession of alcohol were Adam Jorgensen, 18; Kyle Debaets; 18; Jesse Maguire, 18; Luke Sumovich, 18, a 16-year-old, and a 17-year-old. Maguire was also charged with destruction of property.

Mike Hutchison, director for the Class B State Tournament, said he was called by Waverly coaches Wednesday morning at about 2:30, telling him of the incident and the resulting shortage of Waverly players available to play the championship game against county rival Hickman-Norris in the state championship game Wednesday afternoon.

“It did test the state’s judgment of the rules and figuring them out,” Hutchison said of the Nebraska American Legion Baseball’s guidelines on how to award the tournament title and runner-up position while dealing with the resulting forfeit by Waverly.

“It’s really sad because, first off, not only did it take away from the kids on the Waverly team that didn't do anything wrong, it took away from these (Hickman-Norris) kids being able to have a chance to win a championship game and have the emotions that go along with it,” Hutchison said.

Hickman-Norris coach Will Raferty said, when called of the incident, he was initially informed that the Titans would have to play Elkhorn-Mt. Michael – a team Hickman-Norris eliminated in Tuesday’s semifinals, 9-4. Raferty said if that was the way his team would have had to win the championship, they would have concurred with that arrangement.

“It’s too bad for Waverly that that’s the way their year ended,” Raferty said. “One of their kids just got a little loose and didn’t want to play today.

“And I can’t speak for them, but that kind of takes away from our kids. They deserve to go out to win the title the right way, but they got it accomplished and we were still undefeated in this tournament.”

Hutchison said the NALB rules also stated that, as a result of Waverly’s forfeiture, the two teams eliminated from Tuesday’s semifinals –Mt. Michael and Seward – would thus be elevated to the title of co-champions.

Mt. Michael coach Brent Suing, whose team stayed in Torrington during the tournament, said he was called at about 4:30 a.m. and was informed of the incident, and that his team was ready to play Hickman-Norris again if that was the case.

Instead, the Knights returned to Oregon Trail Park early Wednesday afternoon and gladly accepted their runner-up plaque and player medals. Seward’s plaque and medals were to be shipped, since most of the Bluejays’ players had already headed home after their 8-2 Tuesday night loss to Waverly.

“Our boys put ourselves into that position. If it wasn’t going to be us, it was going somebody else,” Mt. Michael coach Brent Suing said. “I know the coach very well from Seward and I’m sure he would say the same thing. We were happy to put ourselves in the situation to be the next runner-up.”

Jerry Purvis contributed to this report.
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