Valley West Might Have To Forfeit Win Vs. Pittston Area

April 6, 2019 GMT

While no official announcement came Friday, it is looking like Valley West will have to forfeit its 2-1 victory over Pittston Area in a Wyoming Valley Conference baseball game played Thursday.

Valley West allegedly used an ineligible pitcher when Nate Baranski finished a complete-game throwing 109 pitches. PIAA rules state that a pitcher is limited to 100 pitches in a calendar day, but the 100-pitch limit can be exceeded if the pitcher is in the middle of an at-bat.

Once an out is recorded, the batter reaches base or the inning comes to an end, the pitcher must be removed from the game.

That wasn’t the case Thursday.

With the game tied at 1, Baranski’s 104th pitch recorded the second out of the inning. Valley West manager John Milius allowed Baranski to face a new hitter. Baranski needed five pitches to retire the batter leaving him at 109 for the game. Valley West won the game in the bottom of the seventh.

Had Milius removed Baranski from the game after his 104th pitch, he would have been fine because he would have gone over the 100-pitch threshold in the middle of an at-bat.

However, after Baranski threw his 104th pitch, Milius went out to check with home plate umpire, Brian McBride, to confirm the number of pitches a pitcher can throw in a game. According to Milius, McBride told him it is 105 during the regular season. Once told that, Milius allowed Baranski to start the new hitter.

It was when the new hitter stepped in the box and Baranski threw the first pitch to the batter that he became ineligible.

Melissa Mertz, the associate executive director of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body for high school athletics in the state, confirmed Friday that the PIAA executive offices were aware of the situation.

“Once it is confirmed he did pitch after 104 pitches, he becomes ineligible,” Mertz said. “Once he is ineligible, it becomes an automatic forfeit.”

District 2 chairman Frank Majikes said he received word of the possible infraction during a District 2 Committee meeting being held Thursday. Majikes said Friday afternoon he is still waiting to receive a report from Valley West principal Dave Novrocki and will review the information and make a formal decision. Majikes said he expects to have a decision over the weekend.

“Obviously, I don’t have a full report,” Majikes said. “That is an administrative matter. We didn’t know at the time how it would end up. I was hoping to have the report (Friday). Based on what I know, and again, nothing is official yet, if it is accurate it becomes a forfeit.”

Pittston Area athletic director Charlie Turco reported the incident to Hazleton Area athletic director Fred Barletta, who is the WVC baseball league secretary as well as the one responsible for assigning umpires in the conference.

“It sounds like they took it to Mechanicsburg (PIAA offices),” Valley West athletic director Nick Gill said. “It sounds like we are going to have to forfeit. We don’t have much ground to stand on. I haven’t heard anything official, but it sounds like that is the direction it is going. Pittston Area put the official complaint in Thursday night.”

Before each game, the teams are supposed to have a person designated to be in charge of pitch counts. Umpires have no jurisdiction over pitch counts, it is simply up to the teams to police themselves. During the regular season according to PIAA rules, a pitcher can throw 100 pitches in a calendar day. Once the postseason rolls around, that number increases to 105 in a calendar day.

“What happened was (Milius) thought, because the new rules in district and state playoffs is 105 (pitches), that is where the confusion came in,” Gill said. “It was an honest mistake. We’re going to see what plays out here.”

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