Loch Raven's baseball team learned yesterday that a coaching error had cost it the school's first trip to a state championship game Saturday, instead making the squad part of a state-tournament oddity -- a double forfeit.
State officials wiped out Loch Raven's Class 2A 10-5 semifinal win over Atholton on Tuesday -- and Atholton's loss, too -- because coaches of both teams allowed their pitchers each to pitch in one more inning in seven days than regulations allow.
The double forfeit, because each pitcher totaled 15 innings instead of the state-limit 14, means that the Eastern Shore's North Caroline will have to wait a few more days for its championship opponent to be determined.
Coaches Mike Bryant, of Loch Raven, and Kevin Kelly, of Atholton, both attributed their losing track of pitchers' innings to recent rainouts that forced each squad to play more games in fewer days than normal.
Ned Sparks, executive secretary of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, which runs the tournament, said regional runners-up -- teams Loch Raven and Atholton beat to qualify for the state tournament -- now will have to play, with the winner facing North Caroline.
Sparks said he didn't recall a double forfeit in a playoff setting in his 17 years on the job, but that regulations were clear. Thus, Lansdowne, from Baltimore County, and Howard, from Ellicott City in Howard County, are now regional champs by forfeit with unanticipated shots at competing for a state title.
"We would like [them] to play Friday afternoon, probably at 3: 30, before the Class 4A final [between Patterson and Arundel] at Joe Cannon Stadium" in Harmans, in Anne Arundel County, Sparks said late yesterday. "But that part has not been confirmed."
Loch Raven principal Keith Harmeir and athletic director Diane George confirmed that Bryant, the school's first-year coach, unintentionally allowed hurler Paul Kollman to go the distance in beating Atholton after having pitched the whole way in Friday's eight-inning win over previously unbeaten North East (19-1), of Cecil County.
"It was just a very unfortunate mistake. Although coaches need to keep track of it, I think [with] the rain and so many cancellations and playing so many consecutive days, you can forget the rule," said George. "It's a sad day here."
"This is just terrible," Harmeir added, noting that the team had been honored Tuesday night at the school's sports banquet.
Said Bryant, "I made a mistake. I overlooked that [rule] in wanting to see him [Kollman] get the complete-game victory over Atholton. But it's no reflection on the boys. They had a great season."
Atholton pitcher Adam Beaver threw into the sixth inning of Tuesday's game after already having gone seven innings last Friday and two last Wednesday.
"I can't tell you how badly I feel about this," said Atholton's Kelly. "It's clearly my fault. I made a mistake. It was not intentional, but we clearly violated the rule. Beaver didn't have to retire a batter. As soon as he threw a pitch in the sixth inning, it was a violation."
The oddity came to light after North East coach Mel Bacon read a Sun article yesterday about the Atholton-Loch Raven game and alerted the MPSSAA to a possible infraction.
Intended to protect young arms from injury, MPSSAA regulations forbid pitchers from throwing more than 14 innings in seven days and no more than 10 in three days.
For Loch Raven, this was the second straight baseball heart-break. A year ago, in its first state semifinal, Loch Raven was one out from a 2-0 win when an error and a three-run homer turned apparent victory into defeat.
Pub Date: 5/21/98