At Elkhorn Mount Michael, they'll be talking about Saturday night's heads-up effort for a long time.
Class C champion Mount Michael won its American Legion playoff game against Class B champion Gretna in the weirdest way — by correctly calling heads on a coin flip. The unorthodox end to the game came after a heavy thunderstorm made Gretna's field unplayable in the bottom of the third inning, one inning short of an official game scheduled for seven innings.
"It's a tough deal, but I guess we'll take it," Mount Michael coach Brent Suing said. "I only won one coin toss during the postseason, so I left it up to our team to make the call."
Nebraska Legion Activities Director Brent Hagel-Pitt, who tossed the coin, sounded apologetic while addressing both teams before the flip. That came after a 45-minute wait following the downpour and Hagel-Pitt's teleconference with other Legion officials.
"It's not the way we like to end the season," he said. "This shouldn't happen any more than once every 100 years."
Hagel-Pitt said Legion baseball began in the state in 1919, and his records went back to 1948. He couldn't find any mention of a coin flip, but there were extenuating circumstances Saturday.
Though the Legion mandates that the Class B champion play the Class C champion, the game came so late in the season that some players already left on delayed family vacations. Both teams were missing key players Saturday night, and more players would have been gone Sunday if the game had been suspended.
Hagel-Pitt said the game couldn't have been moved back any later than Sunday or else players would have been ruled ineligible to play varsity football in the fall, which is a directive of the Nebraska School Activities Association. Since football practice starts Monday, no baseball game can be played after Sunday.
"We were kind of backed into a corner," Hagel-Pitt said. "It's exceptionally weird, but we didn't know what else to do."
Mount Michael built a 4-0 lead, scoring once in each of the first two innings and twice in the third. Tim Carlson drove in a pair of runs with a single and a triple, Bob Thomas had an RBI single and a fourth run came home on an infield error.
Gretna struck back for five runs in the bottom of the third inning on seven consecutive singles. Jake Weakland had two RBIs while Kevin Andersen, Eric Gurbacki and Trent Brosdahl had one each.
The team was still batting with two runners on and one out in the third when the umpires suspended play because of nearby lightning. A few minutes later, it began raining so hard that people in the press box couldn't see the baseball diamond.
After the delay, Hagel-Pitt brought both teams together and announced how the game would be decided. He added that since he had borrowed a quarter for the flip from "a Gretna guy," Mount Michael could make the call.
Suing called "heads,'' and the rest is Mount Michael history. Their players received the winners medals, and Gretna players received the runner-up medals.
"It's a strange way to end the season," Gretna coach Dave Gulizia said. "But I guess the thing we need to remember is that both of these teams are still state champions."
Suing added that it was nice to see both teams joking around with each other before, during and after the coin flip.
"A lot of these guys are friends," he said. "It was great to see them react the way they were, because this was just one of those really bizarre endings."
While there was no animosity, Mount Michael won't be able to put that tossed coin in any trophy case. Shortly after it came up heads, a Gretna player grabbed it and threw it as far as he could.
Players from both teams laughed. And then they headed home.
Contact the writer: