High School Baseball Team Forced To Forfeit Title

Sports have rules.  Each rule is designed for a reason.

But rules can intersect.

One of our local high school baseball teams won a hard-fought 5-4 game on Monday for their League’s Division Title…only to have to forfeit the crown to that opponent today because of a rules violation that never should have happened.  And while the forfeit decision is absolutely correct, the rules should be rethought.

A young man for Downingtown East pitched seven innings in a game last Friday.  The Pennsylvania state high school rule is if a player pitches in six or more innings in one calendar day, the player must then have three calendar days rest to protect himself from injury.

The same youngster then inexplicably pitched to three batters in the final inning of that Title-clinching game Monday versus West Chester East…who Downingtown East entered the game tied with record-wise.

The home plate umpire allegedly said the player could pitch because a new calendar week started on Sunday.  His mistake was considering another PA state rule which says a player can pitch no more than fourteen innings in any calendar week – a week defined as Sunday through Saturday.  The umpire felt the “reset button” had been pushed and the player was eligible…and Downingtown East’s coach went ahead and put him in.

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know the “fourteen innings” rule is fine to clarify when a week begins…but in this instance is trumped by the more “urgent” rule no one can pitch six innings or more without those three required days of rest.

It was decided even if the umpire did approve the player’s entry into the game on Monday the three-day rest rule was broken and Downingtown East therefore used an ineligible player.  State rules only allow for a remedy of a forfeit.  West Chester East’s coach logically protested the game…so they will be declared Division Champ.

Fortunately, both teams have done so well they will advance to play another day as the State Playoffs loom ahead.  It will be very interesting if they meet again.

However, Downingtown East loses their first Division Title in school history and also drops in the Playoff seedings.  I am just amazed this happened…how rules were seen separately…but interpreted in the wrong order.

I get the rest rules to protect young men from being injured but with rainouts and rescheduling sometimes games have to be played on top of each other…and it’s not like all high school teams have unlimited depth.  These restrictions seem to be a bit confining considering high schools have trainers who monitor players’ health regularly, do they not?

And what of the fact the umpire let him in the game – should that carry any weight…and perhaps the winning team should have stayed the winning team?  Thoughts on that?

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About sportsattitudes

I'm Bruce. Born, raised and still outside Philadelphia PA. Managed (so far) to visit a dozen US states (most just one time each) and Canada (twice). 50-plus years - married 30-plus years. Love massive quantities of sports, television and movies (viewed in a movie theater).
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5 Responses to High School Baseball Team Forced To Forfeit Title

  1. berger987 says:

    Well, rules are rules, but the fact that the umpire got the ruling wrong, shouldn’t make them forfeit the title. Look at the blown call by Joyce for Gallaraga’s near perfect game. They didn’t go back and change the ruling because of an ump’s call. The same should apply here. Pitching rules are important and they are just as strict here in South Dakota, but sometimes they just seem to go too far. Is one inning really too much to ask. If you ask me, they need to go by pitch count like we do here instead of innings. One kid could throw 50 pitches in 5 innings while another throws 125 in 5. Now does that seem fair at all? The rule violation should have been made on the spot. I don’t know if the opposing coach was protesting it during the game, but that’s what should’ve been done.

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  2. FireDannyAinge says:

    The umpire made the mistake. The team listened to the umpire. This makes little sense.

    Did you say the other coach complained? He doesn’t mind winning by default? Nice thing to teach your kids. Win at any cost.

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  3. Reports are the opposing coach protested the use of the player at that very moment… during the game at the time the substitution was made…and was overruled by the umpire deciding a “new week” had begun. The offending coach that inserted the player knew/didn’t know the umpire was making a mistake. The game was played under protest at that point of entry. Offending school is not fighting the decision and gracefully admitted using an ineligible player…but it will be always open for discussion if they would have done that if not for the immediate protest. And no, the opposing coach/school had no problem accepting the Title.

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  4. baseball 1 says:

    This was a crazy game. Score was 5 to 4, 7th inning, 9th batter up for West Chester East and no outs. Downingtown East had to pull their 3rd pitcher of the game. The next pitcher would face the top of the order with two men on. These were seasoned coaches who knew the rules, as did the kids in the dugout. It was a shame for both teams. It was not the way West Chester East kids wanted to win the game, and I’m sure it wasn’t the way Downington wanted to forfeit the game.

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  5. Baseball 1, thank you for stopping by and giving all a better feel for the situation as it unfolded. Agreed it was unfortunate all the way around how it turned out.

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