Independent league team loses game in 17 innings after thinking it won championship

The Wichita Wingnuts, a team in the independent American Association, experienced a roller coaster of emotions Monday night.

With a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning, Wichita closer Ryan Kussmaul recorded what appeared to be the championship-clinching out when Winnipeg Goldeyes batter Casey Turgeon grounded out to third. The Wingnuts all ran on the field to celebrate the title.

Just one problem: Home plate umpire Joe Stegner called a balk on Kussmaul, so the pitch and ground out did not count. Here's the video of the ground out, the premature celebration and the balk being called:

My goodness. How do you zone back in and focus after that? Turns out you can't. The at-bat continued and Turgeon ripped a game-tying double off Kussmaul. Here's video of the knock:

Because the premature celebration and blown save weren't bad enough, the game then went 17 innings and Winnipeg walked off with a win (WPG 4, WIC 3). The Wingnuts took the loss eight innings after they thought they clinched the championship with a ground out. Brutal. Just brutal.

Here's what Goldeyes manager Rick Forney told Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press after the game:

"That's one of the craziest games," Goldeyes manager Rick Forney said shortly after the win. "I've been saying it all year. We play until they tell us we can't play anymore." 

...

"I would be throwing up," he said. "I feel for them. It's unfortunate. It can be tough." 

Turgeon told McIntyre he thinks Kussmaul "let his guard down there for a second thinking they won everything," which led to him throwing a hittable pitch.

The good news for Wichita? The series is not over. Monday night's loss sets up decisive Game 5 in the best-of-5 American Association Championship Series.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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