Controversy is threatening to overshadow a Barrington, Rhode Island, youth baseball team’s first ever Little League World Series appearance.
The manager of a New Hampshire team alleges that the Rhode Island team was stealing signs during Saturday's New England Regional Championship, according to The New Hampshire Union Leader.
“You can see (runners on second base) leaning in, looking in and they’re doing hand gestures to their kid (at the plate) indicating what kind of pitch it is and where it’s located,” Pat Dutton, manager of the team from Goffstown, New Hampshire, told the Union Leader. "They did it the whole tournament and got away with it, and now that's what's representing New England in the Little League World Series. It's just a bad look."
Dutton said the Barrington team first noticed the sign stealing during a semifinal game on Aug. 8. He complained to the umpire then and again during Saturday's game. The umpire issued warnings to a Barrington player and the manager, but according to the rules they both should have been ejected.
Little League International said in a statement that it has "full confidence" that the umpires and tournament officials handled the situation properly.
"It is under the judgement of the umpire to decide if unsportsmanlike behavior, including stealing or relaying signs, has taken place. If so, the penalty is ejection and a one-game suspension for those involved. The Little League International Tournament Committee considers this issue closed and has stressed to the teams in Williamsport the importance of adherence to all rules and regulations governing the Little League Baseball World Series."
The Barrington, Rhode Island, little league team will now represent the New England region in its first Little League World Series game on Thursday against the Southeast region team.
The New England Region includes teams from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The New England Regional Championship took place in Bristol, Connecticut.