E.A. Sports Today

Over the limit

Pitch count violation causes Oxford to forfeit Pell City opener; Yellow Jackets bounce back to sweep Thursday doubleheader

Thursday’s scores
Etowah 6-2, Alexandria 3-0
Hokes Bluff 17, Glencoe 2
Jacksonville 11, Donoho 1
Oxford 3-10, Pell City 2-0
Piedmont 4, Pleasant Valley 3
Wadley 17, Ranburne 5
Weaver 6, Ragland 1
Westbrook 13-9, Gaston 2-2

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – The Oxford-Pell City baseball series is always an intense one, but there will be a little more urgency on the Yellow Jackets’ part in tonight’s doubleheader there.

The ninth-ranked Yellow Jackets have self-reported to the AHSAA an “inadvertent” violation of the newly implemented pitch count rule and have forfeited Tuesday night’s 1-0 area victory over the Panthers as a consequence.

Oxford’s Jarin Turner exceeded the 100-pitch limit for sophomore pitchers. Athletics director Larry Davidson said the Yellow Jackets accepted complete responsibility for the error.

“There was an inadvertent violation of the pitch count rule,” Davidson said. “We did not realize it until the next day; when we realized it, we self-reported it. We have contacted Pell City and told them we are forfeiting that game to them.

“It’s a mistake. We’re proud members of the AHSAA. It’s not the AHSAA’s fault. It’s not Pell City’s fault. It’s a game-time mistake. We take full responsibility. It’s our desire to be in full compliance with AHSAA rules.”

According to the pitching charts in the Oxford dugout, Turner was at 99 pitches heading to what would become the last batter in the game, but the rule allows pitchers to complete the batter if they hit the limit mid-count. He threw six pitches to strike out the final out of his fifth complete game of the season.

Upon further inspection, however, the official pitch-count recorder (OPCR) had the right-hander at 101 pitches before facing that hitter. He finished with 107 in the game.
The pitch count chart on Oxford’s statistical program shows 105 pitches for Turner. There were two balks in the box score, which likely weren’t recorded in the dugout pitch record. OPCRs by rule are required to mark all pitches, legal and illegal.

“He faced one batter too many,” Davidson said.

The error wasn’t discovered until the next day and the Yellow Jackets acted immediately.

“It’s Wes Brooks’ fault, No. 1, nobody’s else’s,” said Brooks, the Yellow Jackets’ head coach who was on the committee that recommended the pitch-count rules. “The biggest hiccup for Wes Brooks was I didn’t have a system in place for the ninth- and tenth-grader.

“Like when Brody (Syer) reached 110 (pitches) against Hoover, I had a coach come up and say, ‘He’s up to 110’ and we go from there.”

The AHSAA offices were closed Thursday so there was no access to records indicating the number of similar reported pitch-count violations, but the spokesman for the governing body didn’t believe there were many. Just as there weren’t many with the innings rule prior to the pitch-count mandate.

In a three-team area such as the one Oxford plays in, the forfeit has the potential to become a factor in determining postseason play. The Yellow Jackets bounced back from the news to sweep Thursday night’s doubleheader and grab the series tiebreaker, 3-2 and 10-0.

In the opener, Syer pitched a complete-game two-hitter and scored the winning run when pinch-hitter Carson Lindsey broke a 2-2 tie with a two-out RBI single in the sixth. Syer threw 104 pitches.

In the nightcap, the Jackets pounded 13 hits and Heyden Green pitched a five-inning, one-hit shutout. Green threw 53 pitches while facing only two batters over the minimum. The Jackets sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring four runs. Turner was the DH in this game and had two hits and three RBIs.

“It’s definitely been a roller-coaster week, for sure, but our guys have handled it better than any coach could ever dream,” Brooks said. “I never want to wish that situation on any coach … but once we had the bad news handed to us, there was nothing we could do about what happened, so you just have to focus on the next pitch.”

Game One
Oxford 3, Pell City 2
Oxford 000 111 0 — 3 6 2
Pell City 100 010 0 — 2 2 4

WP: Brody Syer. LP: Noah Hathorn. 2B: Brennan McCullough (O), Austin Stephens (P).

Game Two
Oxford 10, Pell City 1
Oxford 400 24 — 10 13 0
Pell City 000 00 — 0 1 5

WP: Heyden Green. LP: Austin Stephens. 2B: Nate Lloyd (O), Jacob Sears (O).

Piedmont 4, Pleasant Valley 3: Ry Atkins’ single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh brought home Easton Kirk with the winning run.

The Bulldogs trailed 3-2 going into the inning. Taylor Hayes led off with a single, was sacrificed to second by T.J. Fairs and Kirk walked. Bailey Graves singled home the tying run and Atkins followed with his game-winning hit.

PV grabbed a 2-0 lead in the sixth, but Piedmont tied it in the bottom of the inning on Mason Mohon’s two-run double. Dakota Jones’ RBI single put the Raiders ahead 3-2 in the seventh.

Pleasant Valley 000 002 1 — 3 5 3
Piedmont 000 002 2 — 4 8 5

WP: Easton Kirk. LP: Caden McCurdy. 2B: Ashton King (PV), Bailey Graves (P), Taylor Hayes (P), Mason Mohon (P).

Jacksonville 11, Donoho 1: Austin Lackey drove in five runs with a three-run homer and a two-run triple and Brandon Charping and Josh Glass combined on a five-inning two-hitter.

Lackey drilled his homer in a four-run third inning and hit his triple in a six-run fourth. Colin Casey and Mak Curry also had two hits in the game for Jacksonville.

The only two hits Charping and Glass allowed were singles to Chuck Willamon and Garrett Steed. Williamon drove in the Falcons’ run in the third inning. and Chuck Willamon.

Donoho 001 00 — 1 2 2
Jacksonville 104 6x — 11 11 2

WP: Brandon Charping. LP: Chuck Willamon. 2B: Mak Curry (J), Brandon Charping (J). 3B: Austin Lackey (J). HR: Austin Lackey (J).

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