SPORTS – The New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s baseball pitch count rules have caused a Canajoharie victory over Johnstown from last month to be overturned into a forfeit victory for Johnstown.
According to an email sent Wednesday by Johnstown coach Jon Jennings, Canajoharie used an ineligible pitcher in its April 30 game against the Sir Bills, turning what had been a 14-3 Canajoharie win into a 7-0 Johnstown victory.
According to box scores submitted by Canajoharie via the GameChanger website, the ineligible pitcher was LaAnthony Fairley.
According to those statistics, Fairley threw 43 pitches on April 29 over three innings in a win over Mayfield, then pitched the next day against Johnstown. Under NYSPHSAA rules, during April a pitcher must have two nights of rest after throwing between 31 and 65 pitches, meaning he would not have been eligible to pitch again until May 1.
Section II baseball coordinator Mike DeMagistris said that once the issue was directed to him a few days following the game, Canajoharie quickly self-reported the mistake and the game was declared a forfeit win for Johnstown.
“When it’s brought to my attention, you ask the school who’s in violation of a rule, it’s up to them to do the investigation,” DeMagristris said. “They have to self-report it, which they did. And it results in a forfeit.”
DeMagistris said the error likely came from confusion over NYSPHSAA’s pitch count limits, which change over the course of the season.
During April, a pitcher can return after one night of rest after throwing a maximum of 30 pitches. On May 1, that threshold bumps up to a maximum of 40 pitches, which remains in place for the rest of the season.
“I don’t think this situation was intentionally done,” DeMagistris said. “You know, when you go from April 30 to May or April 30 to May 1, the pitch count changes, those numbers can get confusing,
NYSPHSAA introduced pitch count rules for the 2017 season, and DeMagistris said that such incidents have been “very very seldom, especially at the varsity level,” in Section II since they were put in place.
Teams keep their own pitch count charts during each game, and are supposed to cross-reference them with the opposing team. During the postseason, from the Section II semifinal rounds onward, pitch count charts are kept by the official site coordinator where the game is held, ensuring that the section can easily deal with any eligibility concerns.
As this was a non-league contest, DeMagistris said the ramifications of the forfeit were minimal.
“Fortunately,” he said, “it was a non-league game. So, it doesn’t really affect anything, as far as league standings are concerned.”
Neither of the coaches involved in the game, Jennings and Canajoharie’s Joe Fowler, responded to requests for further comment on the situation.