Tragedy struck a Texas softball playoff game on Friday night after an umpire working the game collapsed and died in the middle of the second inning.
According to the Houston Chronicle and YourHoustonNews.com, among other outlets, the frightening incident occurred during a matchup between Katy (Texas) Cinco Ranch High and Houston (Texas) MacArthur High. During the second inning, first base umpire Ricky Scearce Jr., collapsed of an apparent heart attack on the field. He was immediately taken to nearby Memorial Herman Northeast Hospital, but was pronounced dead approximately an hour later.
"We are in utter shock," Scearce's daughter, Cara Smith, told Your Houston News. "He was a healthy man. All he needed was a knee replacement. We are in absolute shock and there is a lot of sadness.
"That was one of his loves. He dedicated his life to being an umpire."
While concern immediately focused on the welfare of the 60-year-old Scearce, the umpire's collapse also led to the postponement of the playoff series between Cinco Ranch and MacArthur, with the postponed game rescheduled for Saturday. Cinco Ranch eventually won the rescheduled Saturday matchup and followed that with a second victory to advance to the Texas Region II quarterfinals with a 2-1 series win over MacArthur.
Immediately after Scearce's collapse, both the Cinco Ranch and MacArthur teams gathered together in a prayer circle for the fallen umpire, as you can see in the picture above from the Twitter account of MacArthur senior pitcher Alyssa Perez, who later noted that paramedics on the scene told the players and fans at the game that Scearce had died while he was on the field.
"It really was [crazy]!" Perez Tweeted on Friday. "Just happened out of nowhere!
"They didn't want to put him in a body bag in front of everyone so they just took him inside the ambulance."
There may have been little comfort for the Scearce family on Friday night or Saturday as they adjusted to life without the Katy resident, but Cinco Ranch coach Jerry Miller expressed a sense of peace in knowing Scearce died doing what he loved.
"This is about him and his family," Miller told Your Houston News. "As much as he liked umpiring, he loved his family. When he retired from Katy ISD, the first couple of times I saw him after that, that's all he could talk about is the opportunity to spend more time with his family and his kids and grandkids. That's all he talked about. He was as happy this year as I've seen him and he's always happy.
"I really feel Rick is in Heaven. The good book says that man was created in God's image. He did perfectly by Rick. He was the personification of a perfect man. I've never heard him cuss. I never saw him smoke or drink. I never saw him say ill will about anyone. Anyone, ever. He was a constant professional. He was an outstanding father and dad and grandpa."
Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
• Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards get caught in Talladega's 'Big One'
• Teammates prank Albert Pujols after his first homer of season
• Trick-shot quarterback gets shot at job with Buffalo Bills