Pitch Count Matters If …..

After some quick and easy research, I found out a couple of interesting facts about pitch counts and when do coaches depend on them. During a recent WWL interview with St. Thomas Aquinas Head Baseball Coach Barrett Morgan, he made the point (and read from the LHSAA handbook) that it is the home teams responsibility to appoint the official pitch recorder and designate a location for the pitch recorders to meet after every inning to compare pitch counts. By seed, St. Thomas Aquinas was the home team in their championship game; however this is a tournament hosted by the LHSAA therefore it is the LHSAA’s responsibility to provide the above mentioned.

A part of the pitch count rule states if 2 out of the 3 pitch recorders don’t agree, the pitch count defers to the official pitch recorder. In this situation, could you imagine if 2 of the 3 pitch recorders came from the same school? Therefore, for more reasons than one, the “official” pitch recorder should be a neutral 3rd party.

Coach Morgan was being interviewed about a pitch count discrepancy in the state championship game. A quick recap of the game in which St. Thomas Aquinas lost to Notre Dame 6-4 in 9 innings follows.

In the bottom of the 1st, the Falcons scored 4 runs. They held a 4-0 lead until the top of the 6th when Notre Dame answered to tie the game at 4. The scored stayed tied 4-4 until the top of the 9th when Notre Dame jumped ahead 6-4. Entering the bottom of the 9th, Notre Dame’s starting pitcher was still on the mound having not allowed a run since the 1st.

At this point, here is what you should know. A new ‘pitch count policy’ places the maximum pitch count for a pitcher to pitch in one day at 125. IF that number comes during the middle of an at-bat, the pitcher is allowed to finish the batter.

In Rule 10.4, the ‘pitch count policy’ also states that after every inning coaches are to meet and compare pitch counts. In the championship game, the LHSAA confirmed only one school followed the rule, Notre Dame. IF only one team is verifying pitch counts, 2 of 3 can’t be taken into consideration because it’s one coaches word vs the official pitch recorder; therefore the default is the official pitch recorder. Any attempt at a ‘checks and balances’ procedure is now eliminated due to the negligence of one team. In this particular case, the official pitch recorder (appointed by the LHSAA) is the pitch count of record due to default. Notre Dames pitcher entered the 9th inning with 102 pitches by his count.

1st batter walked in 5 pitches (107 total)
2nd batter strikes out in 3 pitches (110 total); Runner on 1st, 1 out
3rd batter strikes out in 6 pitches (116 total); Runner on 1st, 2 out
4th batter walked in 6 pitches (122 total); Runners on 1st & 2nd; 2 out

The Notre Dame pitcher should have been pulled due to exceeding the pitch count. The Notre Dame coaches were told by the official pitch recorder their pitcher was under the pitch count maximum and could continue, so he did…..

5th batter singled in 7 pitches (129 total) Bases loaded; 2 outs

The batter the Notre Dame pitcher should NOT have pitched to, singled.

New pitcher comes in and strikes the last batter out and the game is over.

My research tells me that in the semi-final game St Thomas Aquinas did not exchange pitch count information with their opponent nor did they question the LHSAA about who appointed the official pitch recorder. The semi-finals and finals are held at the same venue under the same procedures as the finals.

St Thomas Aquinas’s quarterfinal game did have a different venue, their home field in Hammond. According to the ‘pitch count policy’ it is now St. Thomas Aquinas’s responsibility to provide the official pitch recorder and a designated area to meet to compare pitches. This never happened in the 2 out of 3 quarterfinal series vs Holy Savior Menard. Coach Morgan has made the statement “we don’t want a championship trophy, this is not what this is about.” Then what is it about? Surely this isn’t about following a rule when your team didn’t do its part to comply with Rule 10.4.

The ‘pitch count policy’ (Rule 10.4) should be followed, every rule in the handbook should be followed 100%. For years schools within the LHSAA have gotten away with following only ‘sentences’ of a rule; this is exactly what St. Thomas Aquinas is trying to do.

My advice to the Falcons and their administration is to clean up your own house before you worry about somebody else’s. Pitch Count always should matter ….. not just if you lose.