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SR1

Scecina caught cheating in baseball regional.

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Posted (edited)

The  Terre Haute newspaper says that  the Scecina player Mac Ayres threw a total of 134 pitches during the team’s two regional games on Saturday. According to the IHSAA rules varsity pitchers are limited to 120 pitches in one calendar day.

He will not be able to play in the semistate. 

Scecina will play Southridge in the semistate at Jasper this Saturday.

Edited by SR1
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https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/high-school/2018/06/05/ihsaa-baseball-scecina-avoids-forfeit-but-pitcher-ruled-ineligible/673569002/

A pitch count violation during Saturday's Class 2A regional championship almost cost Scecina a place in this weekend's semistate. 

Instead of being forced to forfeit its regional win over South Vermillion, Scecina will remain in the IHSAA state tournament. However, the Crusaders will be without their standout pitcher Mac Ayres, who the IHSAA has ruled ineligible for Saturday's semistate matchup against Southridge.

"We have a relatively new pitch count rule and it's to be kept in the dugout," Scecina coach Dave Gandolph said. "With the multiple games in one day, which usually doesn't happen, there was a clerical error and he went over the limit. There was no intent to cheat or anything like that."

Ayres came into relief during Scecina's 2-0 win over Union County and threw 17 pitches in the morning semifinal. He started the nightcap against South Vermillion and finished with 119 pitches. The problem arose when it became clear Ayres had exceeded that 120 pitch-count limit IHSAA allows to throw in one day. 

"It was a clerical error," Gandolph reiterated. "I took him out when he had 119 pitches, which is under the limit, but I was under the impression that I thought the count included the first game and it did not."

The pitch-count rule was approved by the IHSAA back in 2016. While Ayres didn't exceed the limit during the game against South Vermillion, he had exceeded it for the day. 

"Scecina did self-report the pitch-count violation to us," said Robert Faulkens, the IHSAA assistant commissioner in charge of baseball, in a statement. "The commissioner has suspended the pitcher for Saturday’s semistate game and issued a stern warning to the school and the Scecina coach for this rules violation."

The Crusaders travel south to Jasper on Saturday for their 1 p.m. semistate game versus Southridge. If they win, Ayres will be eligible to play in the state championship game.

Scecina's principal Dr. Joe Brettnacher said in a school news release: “We deeply regret the error and that the player, through no fault of his own, has to sit out the semistate game.”

The release adds: "As a corrective measure, two Scecina coaches will be verifying pitch counts during games."

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Why the player and not the coach? Is that specified in the rule? I could understand not letting him pitch, but to take away a semi-state game from the student/athlete seems harsh.

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http://www.tribstar.com/sports/local_high_school_sports/wildcats-still-alive-waiting-to-see/article_09168823-8d93-5b2d-b828-0d366df308bd.html

High school baseball players and coaches from South Vermillion were waiting Monday night to learn whether or not they would have their season continue as a result of a violation of the pitch-count rules at Saturday's Class 2A Park Tudor Regional.

The Wildcats lost 7-6 Saturday night to Indianapolis Scecina when Scecina scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning after the Wildcats had taken the lead in the top half of the frame.

Scecina's winning pitcher finished the game with 117 pitches. That same pitcher, however, had appeared in relief earlier in the day and thrown 17 pitches against Union County. That's a total of 134, and regular-season violation of the pitch-count rules — one of which is no more than 120 per day — would result in a forfeit, according to South Vermillion coach and athletic director Tim Terry.

 

"I emailed Robert Faulkens [Indiana High School Athletic Association assistant commissioner in charge of baseball] on Sunday," Terry told the Tribune-Star. "Then I called him on Monday, and his office said he was on his way to Scecina."

Sometime Monday, Terry also talked with Scecina athletic director Jason Kehrer. "He told me, 'We did screw up,' " Terry reported.

South Vermillion assistant coach T.J. Terry, the head coach's son, had gone to the press box at Park Tudor to check on pitch-count totals and was told, "It's up to the dugouts," Tim Terry added, but information about the Scecina pitcher's relief appearance and his 17 pitches was reported on Game Changer.

 

By 10 p.m. Monday, however, Terry and the Wildcats had heard nothing from the IHSAA, making the coach wonder if the organization would make the player ineligible for this weekend's semistate game at Jasper against Southridge instead of sanctioning the entire team.

If that became the case, Terry wondered, why wouldn't a team simply violate the rule if it meant winning a tournament. Why wouldn't Northview have used ace Braydon Tucker in relief in the crucial seventh inning against Terre Haute South in the sectional, he speculated. If he had to sit out a game, he would still be able to pitch a regional championship game in that scenario.

"All year long, if you use a pitcher too long it's a forfeit," Terry said. "And if we're going to play [this coming Saturday], we need to know so we can practice."

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Here is the Pitch Count Rule adopted by the IHSAA in October 2016. The 4th paragraph in bold CLEARLY states that if you use an ineligible pitcher in a game, you FORFEIT that game. As soon as Mac Ayres went over 120 pitches for the day during the final vs South Vermillion, he became in ineligible pitcher. There is no discussion in the rule about player &/or coach suspensions because THE IHSAA IS MAKING THIS GARBAGE UP AS THEY GO. I hope South Vermillion takes this to court & fights this right away. How can the IHSAA justify not enforcing a clear violation to their rule? Does this mean that every team in the State Finals can "mistakenly" let their ace go over the Pitch Count rule because the only punishment will be player-suspension for the NEXT game?

http://www.ihsaa.org/dnn/AboutIHSAA/News/tabid/1077/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/746/Baseball-Pitch-Count-Rule-Approved.aspx

October 6, 2016
Baseball Pitch Count Rule Approved by Executive Committee
The IHSAA Executive Committee unanimously approved amending Rule 51‐4 of the by‐laws setting specific limits on the number of pitches a baseball player may throw at the varsity and sub‐varsity levels and a required amount of rest in between appearances on the mound.
No pitcher may throw more than 120 pitches in a varsity level game/calendar day or 90 pitches in a sub‐varsity level game/calendar day. Anyone who throws at least 36 pitches in a varsity contest or 26 in a sub‐varsity contest must receive one day of required rest. Additionally, any pitcher who throws more than 60 pitches over two days will be required one day of rest.
If a pitcher reaches the maximum number of pitches in a pitch count level (see table below), during an at‐bat, the pitcher may complete the at‐bat without moving to the next pitch count level. Any replacement pitcher will have a maximum of 16 warm‐up throws.
Schools also will be mandated to use a pitch count chart – provided by the IHSAA ‐ for each pitcher on the team and submit updated pitching statistics to their school administrators following each game. The use of an ineligible pitcher in a game shall result in the forfeiture of that game.
The new pitch count policy is a result of a new rule announced by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in July requiring states to develop their own policies after it was determined that a pitching restriction rule should be based on the number of pitches thrown instead of the previous method of innings pitched.
IHSAA Assistant Commissioner Phil Gardner and a committee of 10 baseball coaches from around the state met this summer to script Indiana’s policy which now becomes effective immediately. It will be formally ratified by the IHSAA Board of Directors at its May 1 meeting. Previously, IHSAA rules limited a pitcher to no more than 10 innings in any three
consecutive calendar days.


Pitching Limits - Varsity Pitch Count

Level Pitches Required Rest
1 1‐35 0 days
2 36‐60 1 day
3 61‐80 2 days
4 81‐100 3 days
5 101‐120+ 4 days


Sub‐Varsity Pitch Count

Level Pitches Required Rest
1 1‐25 0 days
2 26‐35 1 day
3 36‐60 2 days
4 61‐80 3 days
5 81‐90+ 4 days


Additional recommendations in the rule include:
 Every school should use a mobile app to count pitches.

 The school of a pitcher who has reached a maximum pitch count should carefully consider an appropriate fielding position for that pitcher after considering the fielding position’s throwing requirements.
 To allow for growth and arm strength, every school should develop a pitching philosophy that includes the instruction of proper throwing mechanics, broadening the number of players who become pitchers on the team, and develop a "work up" plan so that a pitcher is not throwing the maximum allowable pitches from the first day of
competition.
 Every school should provide an additional day of rest for those pitchers that throw more than 70 pitches.
 Every school’s coaching staff should learn the behaviors of their pitchers and recognize each pitcher’s "fatigue threshold".

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21 minutes ago, SL816 said:

Why the player and not the coach? Is that specified in the rule? I could understand not letting him pitch, but to take away a semi-state game from the student/athlete seems harsh.

I strongly believe that the IHSAA has made a big mistake by NOT ruling this as a Forfeit. Whether it was intentional or by mistake doesn't matter, they clearly broke the IHSAA Rule which mandates Forfeiture of that game. But if they are going with suspensions, I would suggest suspending the Head Coach for the rest of this year's tournament & possible the 2019 tournament in addition to the 1-game player suspension.

After reading the quotes from the TribStar article, I also have to question whether Scecina self-reported the violation as the Asst Commish stated in the Indystar article or whether South Vermillion reported the violation & then Scecina admitted to it.

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The regular season rule is that the game would be forfeited. During the IHSAA tournament this rule is used instead.

3-9.4 Tournament Series Procedure a. In Football, Basketball, Baseball, Soccer, Softball and Volleyball During Tourneys (1.) disqualify ineligible individual – but team advances (2.) State Finals championship or runners-up vacated and all team/individual awards shall be forfeited and returned to the Association.

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Ironically, I discussed this topic at the LaPorte Regional 3 days ago with my Dad (former A.D.) & a former Head Coach who now umpires & worked the State Finals last year. We agreed that the IHSAA is far too lax in their oversight, especially during the tournament. Believe it or not, host schools are NOT required to provide an Official Scorekeeper for baseball tournament games. Instead, each team is required to track & report their own pitch counts. That makes it far too easy to cheat &/or make mistakes. If the Pitch Count is running high, there's really no one to stop you from conveniently not counting those 2-strike pitches that get fouled off.   

The IHSAA oversight solution for Scecina to make TWO Scecina coaches verify pitch counts is utterly laughable. For tournament games, there should be an Official Scorekeeper provided by the host school who tracks Pitch Counts & then provides all pitch count data to all of the teams after each game.

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3 minutes ago, SR1 said:

The regular season rule is that the game would be forfeited. During the IHSAA tournament this rule is used instead.

3-9.4 Tournament Series Procedure a. In Football, Basketball, Baseball, Soccer, Softball and Volleyball During Tourneys (1.) disqualify ineligible individual – but team advances (2.) State Finals championship or runners-up vacated and all team/individual awards shall be forfeited and returned to the Association.

Ok, I guess. But they should have included that tournament language in the Pitch Count rule.

Also, Rule 3-9.4 does not state how long the ineligible individual will be disqualified. I would argue that a 1-game suspension is too short in this case. If Scecina wins on Saturday, Mac Ayres will be pitching in the 2A State Final game & Scecina will have gotten away with it.   

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Thanks for clarifying the rules. I still think too much of the onus is put on the player, who probably isn't aware that he/she is doing anything wrong. Personally, I think it should be a forfeit. 

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Just now, SL816 said:

Thanks for clarifying the rules. I still think too much of the onus is put on the player, who probably isn't aware that he/she is doing anything wrong. Personally, I think it should be a forfeit. 

You're right. The pitcher is absolutely not responsible for counting his own pitches. The IHSAA decision to completely suspend the player for 1 game but only issue a "stern warning" to the Head Coach & school is ridiculous. Like I said earlier, the Coach should be suspended for at least the remainder of the 2018 tourney.

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That has been the rule for a few years now. Have you contacted the IHSAA to let them know how you feel or have you contacted the principle of you local high school to talk to him about changing this rule?

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I looked over a few of Scecina's box scores at maxpreps.com. Seems a little fishy that past games, including both Sectional games,  had complete stats (INCLUDING PITCH COUNTS) but that changed for the Regional games. The pitch counts are BLANK for the Regional semifinal vs Union County (Mitchell 6 innings 27 batters faced, Ayers 1 inning 4 batters faced) & then NO PITCHING STATS ARE ENTERED for the Regional final vs South Vermillion (according to the Tribstar recap, Ayers pitched into the 6th when he was replaced by Bagley).

Granted, maybe they removed these stats after discovering their mistakes & didn't want to add fuel to the fire.

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1 minute ago, SR1 said:

That has been the rule for a few years now. Have you contacted the IHSAA to let them know how you feel or have you contacted the principle of you local high school to talk to him about changing this rule?

Nah, I am just a high school sports fan with no allegiance to any of the teams involved in this mess. I hope that the IHSAA gets smart & mandates that there must be an Official Scorekeeper at each tourney site to track & report Pitch Counts. It shouldn't be solely up to each team to police themselves. And the other teams in each tourney shouldn't have to track opponents' Pitch Counts, especially for games in which they aren't even playing. 

This is just another example of the IHSAA treating BASEBALL like a red-headed stepchild.

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http://www.batesvilleheraldtribune.com/indiana/sports/ihsaa-rules-scecina-will-not-forfeit-regional-game-to-south/article_7445b799-5e94-59d1-a1c5-b01007661b8b.html

When South Vermillion baseball coach and athletic director Tim Terry became aware of a pitch count violation regarding Class 2A Park Tudor Regional championship game opponent Indianapolis Scecina — a violation Scecina ultimately self-reported regarding pitcher Mac Ayers — Terry was depending on the letter of the Indiana High School Athletic Association by-law to mete out the justice it states.

IHSAA by-law 51-4-e says:

"Ineligible Pitchers. A pitcher whose Pitch Count reaches Pitch Count Level 2, 3, 4 or 5, or whose Two (2) day Pitch Count exceeds Sixty (60) Pitches, is ineligible to pitch until the pitcher completes the mandated rest period, and if a pitcher pitches in a Contest in violation of this rule, the School must forfeit the Contest in which the pitcher pitches and report the violation in writing to the IHSAA."

 

However, when the IHSAA was made aware of the by-law violation on Monday, it cited a different by-law in response. One that has kept Scecina in the Class 2A Jasper Semistate at the expense of South Vermillion, who thought they might be in the semistate in the Crusaders place.

IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox told the Tribune-Star on Tuesday that the IHSAA applied by-law 3-9.4 when it came to adjudicating the case. IHSAA by-law 3-9.4 says, regarding governance of baseball in the postseason:

"In Football, Basketball, Baseball, Soccer, Softball and Volleyball During Tourneys ... (1.) disqualify ineligible individual – but team advances ..."

The IHSAA followed that by-law and ruled that Ayers will be ineligible in Saturday's Jasper Semistate game against Southridge. The IHSAA also released a statement on the matter Tuesday morning.

Wildcats still alive? Waiting to see

"Indianapolis Scecina did self-report the pitch count violation to us. The commissioner has suspended the pitcher for Saturday’s semi-state game and issued a stern warning to the school and the Scecina coach for this rules violation," the statement said.

Cox said there was no question of a violation as it was reported by both Scecina and South Vermillion. Cox told the Tribune-Star that the organization did everything by the letter of its own by-laws in handling the pitch count violation and that tournament rules supersede those elsewhere in the IHSAA by-laws.

"Rule 3.94 speaks to how you handle disqualifications and suspensions during the regular season and during the tournament series. This happened during the tournament series. When that young man from Scecina threw one pitch after his limit he became ineligible. Our rule is very clear that the individual is disqualified and the team advances," Cox said.

"I'm enforcing the rule by the letter," Cox later said with emphasis.

Terry, who went so far as to hold a baseball practice for the Wildcats on Tuesday morning had South Vermillion received the forfeiture ruling it interpreted was appropriate, disagreed strongly with the IHSAA's decision.

"[By-law 2-9.4] was in there before the pitch count rule became [a rule]. It contradicts everything about the pitch count rule. The pitch count rule says that the game you mess up is the game you're ineligible for. That's the game you should be forfeiting, not the next game. It opens up a can of worms," Terry said.

The controversy came about as a result of Scecina's two regional games on Saturday. In its semifinal game against Union County, a 2-0 victory for Scecina, Ayers was used in relief and threw 17 pitches, according to Terry, who received the pitch count confirmation from Union County's athletic director.

Ayers started against South Vermillion in the regional championship game and threw 117 pitches against the Wildcats. Ayers was removed in the sixth inning and didn't factor in the decision as the Crusaders rallied in the seventh and defeated South Vermillion 7-6 in the championship game.

Regardless of the outcome of the game, the pitch count rules state that no pitcher can throw 120 pitches or more in a calendar day. South Vermillion informed the IHSAA of the violation on Monday.

Cox said South Vermillion read by-law 51-4 correctly, but didn't take 2-9.4 into account when they interpreted the possible consequences.

"They read rule 51-4 and when we implemented rule 51-4, we had to have a penalty for what when this happened in the regular season and that's why we put that in there, but that rule is not superseded by a tournament rule, because that's what we do, we run tournaments. So in the tournament series, you disqualify the individual, but advance the team. Our tournament rules take precedent over all other rules," Cox said.

Cox was asked why there would be one rule for the regular season and another for the postseason.

"It's been in that situation forever. The only time we'd make a team forfeit in this situation is at the state tournament level," Cox said.

Among Terry's issues is that very few coaches around the state were aware that's how the IHSAA interpreted the pitch count rule as it relates to the postseason. He is concerned that the IHSAA's interpretation of Scecina's violation could invite intentional abuse of the pitch count rule when it matters most — in the postseason.

"All of the coaches who have called me up today didn't realize that. Shoot, why not leave the guy in there then? You're not going to forfeit that game, you lose him for the next game. That's ignorant on their part. They should have fixed [by-law 2-9.4] before the pitch count rule," Terry said.

When Terry was told of the IHSAA's response to why the rule is interpreted one way in the regular season and another in the postseason? He was blunt with his response.

 

"That's a stupid answer. When they made [the pitch count] rule, they should have changed [by-law 2-9.4]," Terry said.

Terry sent a written statement to the Tribune-Star and indicated that the pitch count rule — which the IHSAA adopted in 2016 based on the National Federation of State High School guidelines and which became enforceable in 2017 — is compromised by the IHSAA's decision.

"A lot of thought and feedback went into the pitch count rule and it was done very well. The best way to enforce the rule was to forfeit the game, for the violation," Terry wrote. "The whole reason for our pitch count rule was to save the arms, the most important time may be at the end of the season."

Another issue is whether the violation is indeed a player violation, as the IHSAA interpreted it, or a team one? If the team is responsible for keeping track of the pitch count, isn't it their violation and not the player involved? And if so? Would that then remove by-law 2-9.4 from the jurisprudence? 

"The pitch count rules are put in for the protection of the pitchers. I can think of a lot of coaches that would bring their pitchers back in to win the final game of the sectional, and abuse the pitch count rule. In turn, they would win the sectional, the pitcher would be penalized for the next game, then he could pitch in the championship game of the regional. So the team that breaks the rules will go on to win and the team that followed the rules, will be out of the tournament," Terry also wrote in his statement.

Cox was sympathetic, but stood by the IHSAA's ruling.

"In a perfect world, everyone would abide by the rules and there wouldn't be any slip-ups and we'd just play our tournaments. It happens. It isn't the first time a rule violation has occurred and it won't be the last. It's our job to enforce the rules the membership agrees on. South Vermillion and Scecina and every one of the other 408 schools," Cox said.

"I'm sad for the kid [Ayers] who won't get to play at semistate and it's sad for South Vermillion because if it were a regular season event? They would receive the win, but in the postseason? The team moves on," he added.

There is no immediate recourse for South Vermillion within IHSAA guidelines to appeal the ruling. Cox suggested a different course of action. 

"As I indicated to the [South Vermillion Community School Corporation] superintendent [Dave Chapman] and athletic director [Terry], if they don't like this rule? They can propose a rules change. South Vermillion can propose a rule that if the pitch count is violated in the tournament? It's a forfeiture by the offending team," Cox said.

That's a small comfort to the Wildcats, who were chasing would what have been just their second regional baseball championship in school history. As it is? The Wildcats end their 27-4 season on a bitterly disappointing note.

It wasn't easy for Terry to break the news to his players this morning.

"They're upset. This is a good group. You don't have a group like this very often. They're a good group and they do things right. It's kind of tough because we were wanting to go in. To think you're not going on because they threw an ineligible guy against you? It's even worse," Terry said.

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Among Terry's issues is that very few coaches around the state were aware that's how the IHSAA interpreted the pitch count rule as it relates to the postseason. He is concerned that the IHSAA's interpretation of Scecina's violation could invite intentional abuse of the pitch count rule when it matters most — in the postseason.

"All of the coaches who have called me up today didn't realize that. Shoot, why not leave the guy in there then? You're not going to forfeit that game, you lose him for the next game. That's ignorant on their part. They should have fixed [by-law 2-9.4] before the pitch count rule," Terry said.

***

Unless the IHSAA & baseball coaches work together to fix this rule in the offseason, the IHSAA could be in for a huge mess. Here's a perfect hypothetical situation in which coaches can abuse the system. Let's say you are a Head Coach & your team is playing the 2nd semifinal in Sectional or Regional against the best team in the field. A relatively weak team won the 1st semifinal so you're pretty confident that your team can beat them with your #2 & #3 pitchers. Your ace pitcher only pitches & does not play another position-- if you win the semifinal, he's not going to play in the final anyway so you will gladly accept that 1-game suspension from the IHSAA. So if your ace is throwing well & the game goes into extra innings, just keep him in there past 120 pitches, 130...140...150...175 pitches. As long as your ace is still getting people out & his arm hasn't fallen off, keep him in there & get that WIN. It's a WIN-WIN with practically no consequences. Your team advances to the Final, your ace is suspended for 1 game he wasn't going to play in anyway & the IHSAA gives you & the school a "stern warning".

Ok, I'm done with that hypothetical, but very plausible, situation. So here's a real solution during the tournament-- mandate that every host school must provide an Official Scorekeeper who is responsible for keeping the official Pitch Counts for every team in every game & then will provide that data to every team in that Sectional/Regional/Semistate/State Final. If a pitcher breaks that rule by going over 120 pitches in a single game/single day or by not resting for the mandated number of days between pitching appearances, then the Official Scorekeeper will immediately stop the game to inform the Head Umpire of the infraction and the Umpire will immediately stop that player from pitching. 

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Excellent column from Fort Wayne News Sentinel.

http://www.news-sentinel.com/sports/2018/06/07/reggie-hayes-ihsaa-ruling-in-scecina-vs-south-vermillion-pitch-count-violation-may-be-right-but-it-feels-wrong/

Indianapolis Scecina High School’s baseball team violated the pitch count rule in its Class 2A regional championship win over South Vermillion, allowing pitcher Mac Ayers to exceed the 120-pitch limit in a calendar day.

Scecina self-reported its violation, which was also noted by South Vermillion.

What happened next is an example of how unsatisfying Indiana High School Athletic Association rule enforcement can be.

I can see how the IHSAA’s ruling is technically right, but it sure feels wrong.

In the regular season, the penalty for violating the pitch count rule is clear: Ayers would have become ineligible and Scecina would have forfeited the game. It’s written in IHSAA Bylaw 51-4: “The use of a pitcher not eligible to pitch by the pitch count restrictions shall constitute the use of an ineligible player and result in a contest forfeiture.”

South Vermillion coach Tim Terry and his team felt Scecina should have been required to forfeit its 7-6 regional win.

Instead, IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox ruled Ayers ineligible for this Saturday’s semi-state, but Scecina will play on.

The reason: IHSAA Bylaw 3-9.4 specifies penalties for schools using ineligible players in the postseason. It states in football, basketball, baseball, soccer, softball and volleyball during tourneys, “disqualify ineligible individual – but team advances.”

South Vermillion, which played by the rules, stays home. Ayers, who did what his coach told him to do, is ineligible to pitch in the semi-state. Scecina coach Dave Gandolph, who attributed the violation to a “clerical error” in an Indianapolis Star interview, prepares his team for the semi-state.

Ayers threw 17 pitches in relief in the regional semifinal game, then threw 119 pitches before being removed from the championship game. Gandolph told the Star he thought the 119 pitches included the earlier game and there was “no intent to cheat or anything like that.” Ayers left the game in the sixth with the score tied.

I talked with Cox on Wednesday afternoon, and he explained the IHSAA’s ruling.

“Our charge is to enforce (the rules),” Cox said. “Two schools self-reported. You look at the rule book. It’s pretty simple. It happened in the tournament, you disqualify the individual and the team moves on. That’s exactly what we did.”

The tournament rules take precedent, Cox said.

My initial thought is the tournament rules need to be modified.

If the regular-season penalty for pitch count violation – intentional or unintentional – is a forfeit, the postseason penalty ought to follow suit.

Cox said any member school can propose a future change to that rule, and call for any team using an ineligible player in a postseason game to forfeit. It’s already a rule for the state championship game, and Cox points out he dealt with it directly when he was the athletic director at Carmel High School and the swim team forfeited a state title due to an ineligible swimmer.

For other levels of the tournament, however, there could be unintended complications, he said.

“I’ve cautioned some folks who think that would be a good proposal,” Cox said. “If you look at the minutes of our meetings each month, you’ll find a list of violations and they range from transfer eligibility to academic eligibility to a kid wrestling at the wrong weight class, two classes above, to a kid left off the entry list who played in a tournament.”

Cox said a strict forfeiture rule for ineligibility would dramatically increase the number of schools being forfeited out of the tournament.

“Take a football team,” Cox said. “Some of our largest schools have 150 kids on the roster. You throw that kid in at the end of the fourth quarter when you’re winning by 50, he’s academically ineligible and your coach missed it. Now you’re out of the tournament. That’s going to be a problem for that community.”

I can understand that. No one wants teams forfeiting tournament games for smaller, inadvertent issues. But rules are rules.

If there’s no chance of tournament forfeit in the case of the pitch count violation, what’s to prevent a coach from abusing it in the tournament to advance to the next level? Sure, the pitcher will be ineligible the next week, but won’t some ethically challenged coaches see one player, even a good pitcher, as worth the sacrifice?

Let me answer that: Yes, some ethically challenged coaches will see it that way.

Cox said it’s on the principal and athletic director to make sure the coach plays fairly.

“Maintain the deportment of your department,” Cox said. “If you have a coach violating a rule or causing a kid to violate a rule, you need to deal with it.”

The bylaws don’t specify a suspension of the coach for the pitch count violation, even if the move was intentional.

“I would tell you I feel strongly Scecina ought to discipline their coach,” Cox said. “The coach caused this kid to be ineligible. …I’ve suggested a suspension of the coach (by the school) but I’ve not heard anything to support that happening. There are other situations where we can suspend coaches for violations but this rule is very clear: You disqualify the individual and the team moves on.”

That doesn’t seem fair to Ayers, the pitcher.

“I agree 100 percent,” Cox said. “It is truly a shame for that young man. But the association has no other way than to follow the rule. The rule is clear to disqualify the individual. He’s the one that became ineligible, so he’s the one that gets disqualified. I agree it’s a shame. It’s a crying shame because that kid was probably going to pitch in the semi-state, but not now.”

Cox said he will suggest adding a line to Bylaw 51-4 on pitch counts to state that postseason violations will follow Bylaw 3-9.4 on ineligible players. If one of the 410 IHSAA member schools wants to propose something else, they are free to do so, Cox emphasized.

None of this helps South Vermillion, which played by the rules, saw the other team violate those rules and now sits at home with its season over.

Everyone should play by the rules. If not, they should face the consequences. In this case, the consequences are technically right, but they sure feel wrong.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Bylaw 3-9.4 being used as a "scapegoat" to save the embarrassment of a team forfeiting a game this deep in the tournament? I would think that Bylaw 3-9.4 would pertain to students ineligible due to transfer violations, academics, etc....... Mac Ayers was not an ineligible player. He became an ineligible pitcher after he threw his 120th pitch, for the day. The penalty for breaking that rule is forfeiture of the game. Does the rule state "only in the regular season"? 

I've got no dog in the fight and nothing against Scecina. Just seems the rules are being manipulated. 

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20 minutes ago, SL816 said:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Bylaw 3-9.4 being used as a "scapegoat" to save the embarrassment of a team forfeiting a game this deep in the tournament? I would think that Bylaw 3-9.4 would pertain to students ineligible due to transfer violations, academics, etc....... Mac Ayers was not an ineligible player. He became an ineligible pitcher after he threw his 120th pitch, for the day. The penalty for breaking that rule is forfeiture of the game. Does the rule state "only in the regular season"? 

I've got no dog in the fight and nothing against Scecina. Just seems the rules are being manipulated. 

I posted a summary/IHSAA News Release of the Pitch Count Rule -- see above (Tuesday June 5 at 4:57pm). I also looked up the original Rule 51-4 in the By-laws. There is no reference to either regular season or tournament in 51-4.  It simply says that violating the Pitch Count Rule results in forfeiture of that game. However, Commissioner Bobby Cox & the IHSAA are standing firm with their decision that the tournament rule (3-9.4 - ineligible player) take precedent over the Pitch Count Rule (51-4 - ineligible pitcher).

http://www.ihsaa.org/Portals/0/ihsaa/documents/about ihsaa/2017-18 By-Laws.pdf

This whole mess would have been avoided if the IHSAA had done a better job crafting the rule. The IHSAA Pitch Count Rule-- as it currently stands-- lacks proper in-game oversight, does not differentiate between regular season violations versus tournament violations, & leaves the door open for unethical or mathematically-impaired coaches to violate the rule but still win & advance in the tournament.

Requiring each team to keep track of their own Pitch Counts & police themselves is akin to relying upon each basketball team to keep track of their own fouls (instead of an Official Scorekeeper) & then remove the player after committing 5 fouls. According to one of the news articles, the South Vermillion Asst Coach went to the press box during the game to check on Ayers' Pitch Count but was told that "it's up to the dugouts". That's correct, according to 51-4 as written. However, there is no in-game recourse outlined in 51-4. Therefore, South Vermillion had no place to turn except to appeal to the IHSAA after the game.   

Let's hope that the IHSAA gets smart & amends their By-Laws to include a mandate that each tourney site must provide an Official Scorekeeper to track Pitch Counts for every tournament game at that site, report Pitch Counts by every pitcher/every team to each team participating at that site & then send a summary Pitch Count form to the IHSAA at the end of that Sectional, Regional, etc. 

 

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Scecina 2 Southridge 7. Justice is served.

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Scecina 2 Southridge 7. Justice is served.

Can anybody copy-paste Todd Golden's June 9 TribStar column to this forum for me? I have used up my access so it won't let me read any more TribStar articles.

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Here is the article that I think you were looking for. To common now a days to complain after the fact when this should have been addressed when put in place. I completely understand that player safety should always come first and the pitch count should be counted by an official score keeper but the coaches didn't want that according to this article.

TODD AARON GOLDEN: In following the letter of the law, IHSAA lost the spirit of the pitch count rule

When I interviewed IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox last Tuesday, he was very adamant not only in his words, but his tone, when he conveyed to me that the IHSAA did everything in handling the South Vermillion-Scecina pitch count rule violation by the book.

“I’m enforcing the rule by the letter,” Cox said with an uptick in his voice and stern emphasis in his enunciation when he said "by the letter".

By now, you probably know what the controversy was about and how it was resolved. Scecina pitcher Mac Ayres went over the IHSAA (and National Federation of State High School Federations) pitch count for a 24-hour period. The limit is 120 pitches. Ayres threw 134 or 136 depending on who was doing the counting. There's no dispute, from either party, that Ayres and Scecina were in violation of the rule.

The IHSAA by-law on the pitch count rule requires a team forfeit when the rule is violated.

The IHSAA cited a different by-law, one they say overrode the pitch count by-law, that stated that the penalty in the postseason is different and that the player is suspended but the team moves on.

However you feel about that, and I've yet to come across anyone who was completely satisfied by every aspect of the ruling, let's go back to when the IHSAA decision had to be made.

Let's also acknowledge that we're dealing with something different here. Once player health-related guidelines and rules crossed into the realm of the competitive environment — pitch counts for baseball, concussion protocols for contact sports — we stepped out of the old days of rule enforcement.

(We've also stepped out of the old days of many things. The IHSAA is going to have to consider how it structures the baseball tournament — perhaps two games in one day for the sectional and regional is no longer such a hot idea. The IHSAA definitely has to stop conceding power to the coaches' associations and take more control over their own rules in all sports. 

An example? For the many who have suggested that pitch count should be monitored independently, perhaps by the host site as it is in Illinois? It didn't happen because the Indiana coaches' association didn't want it to happen. They favored the honor system.

Here's a news flash — few say it publicly, but there are plenty of coaches don't like the pitch count rule for reasons ranging from legitimate concern of it not being strict enough, or issues of how to apply it, to outmoded caveman thinking that it makes players soft. But that's a column for another day.)

The pitch count rule's conception was to protect player health. It's there to protect pitchers from their own competitive instinct and inability to ascertain their own limit.

It's also there to protect players from coaches who aren't paying attention to the pitch count (Defcon-5, least severe on the concern threat matrix) or who are unscrupulous (a hard Defcon-1) about crossing the line to feed their own competitive hunger.

So back to the IHSAA decision-making process.

Forget, for a moment, the forfeit or no forfeit part of this. Forget, even, the inherent ridiculousness that there's a different standard for regular season versus the postseason — even though nothing is at stake in the regular season with an all-comers, blind-draw tournament and everything is stake in the postseason.

Think only that the pitch count rule is a player safety issue ... period. The IHSAA had, right in their lap, a chance to really send a message about how important these pitch count rules are and how it's a line that simply can't be crossed.

If you read IHSAA by-law 3-9.4, it is succinct. The player is ineligible and the team moves on. We already knew that.

However, if you read the entirety of the IHSAA by-laws on eligibility — and boy is it ever a page-turner — it deals with player ineligibility. The IHSAA adjudicates via player ineligibility. It's what they do. Apparently, it's all they do.

However, holding the player responsible for a pitch count violation is well nigh ludicrous. It's not his responsibility to keep track of his own pitch count. The coaches are supposed to monitor it and there's nothing beyond the honor system in place to hold anyone accountable. The IHSAA has no apparatus in place to enforce the rule, and yet, it's the player who pays the price?

The IHSAA could (should) have understood this, looked at the wording of their by-law, and struck a new blow. 

Rather than stick with the player ineligibility by-law — undoubtedly written to deal with traditional ineligibility issues like players who weren't academically eligible, etc. — the IHSAA could have set a bold new precedent and ruled that the team was ineligible for violating the pitch count rule as written in by-law 51-4-e and enforced the forfeit.

The rationale is simple. The team is responsible for protecting their own player's safety. The team's coaching staff is responsible for keeping their pitch count. Scecina, by accident or on purpose, failed to do this. Given that? The team has to pay the penalty for not protecting their own player and forfeit the game ... just as it does during the regular season.

The penalty must be that serious. If it isn't? Then what's the point of protecting the players in the first place if you can't do it when it matters most? When the instance of arm overuse abuse is most prevalent?

My guess is that the IHSAA would argue that it wasn't within their purview to create a new precedent, but who is going to argue with the IHSAA over setting a precedent to protect player safety?

Scecina might have fought it, perhaps even with legal action, but as South Vermillion ultimately decided, the IHSAA does have discretion in how they interpret their by-laws. I'm not sure how it's arguable among the sane that the IHSAA would have been doing the wrong thing to strictly enforce the pitch count rule. The IHSAA also would have engendered plenty of good will in the name of player safety and sent a clear message to coaches that the pitch count rule is serious business.

The IHSAA had a chance to take a bold stance. What they did instead was blanket themselves in their own rulebook to comfort themselves in the letter of the law. 

In doing so? The IHSAA completely missed the spirit of what the pitch count rule is all about in the first place.

Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or todd.golden@tribstar.com. Follow Golden on Twitter at @TribStarTodd.

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Thank you for posting that article, Crusaderfan.

Just like providing affordable healthcare for all Americans, who would have ever imagined that a Pitch Count Rule could be so complicated? 

While I understand that the coaches association may want to police themselves, the IHSAA would open themselves up for even more controversy if they don't a) amend the Pitch Count Rule to differentiate the penalty for a regular season violation & the penalty for a tournament violation and b) proper in-game oversight/enforcement in tournament play.  

Obviously, the IHSAA enforces the rules as they see fit. In this case, they need to do a better job of writing the rules in the first place. 

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