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The next batter, Kevin Millar, also drives a double into the same gap. The ball rolls to a stop at the bottom of the fence and is returned to the infield by centerfielder Wily Mo Pe�a. That play will prompt Drew, after the inning ends, to stop next to me on his way to the dugout.
Drew lifts his arms out to his sides and says to me, "Hey, what's the rule on the ball that wedges under the fence?"
I can tell he's very serious and mistakes me for an actual umpire. This is not good.
"Uh, did it go under the fence at all?" I ask in an attempt to avoid his question. "Because if it goes under the fence it's a dead ball even if he fishes it out."
"No," Drew says, more impassioned this time. "The ball got stuck between the bottom of the fence and the ground. What's the ruling?"
"The ball's in play unless it goes completely under the fence," I reply, in full filibuster mode as I return to the under-the-fence diversion.
"No, not under the fence," Drew says again, more confused than annoyed about not getting a direct answer from an umpire. "What's the ground rule here on a ball stuck under the fence?"
I've tap-danced long enough for Culbreth to rescue me as he joins us from his station at first base. I haven't been this happy to see an umpire since Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun. Culbreth explains that the ball's in play as long as Pe�a chooses to play it; if the ball's wedged, Pe�a can raise his hand to signal a stuck ball. Then the ruling is an automatic double and two bases to any base runner.
"Yeah," I say to Drew, suddenly summoning an authoritative tone with a straight face. "Tell him next time to just raise his hand and we'll stop the play."