Forfeit opens door for Marriotts Ridge

The Baltimore Sun

Marriotts Ridge will play for the Class 2A state baseball title today after South Hagerstown was forced to forfeit its victory Wednesday over the Mustangs in the semifinals.

South Hagerstown's 14-10 win at Arundel was overturned because, it was ruled, the Washington County school violated the rule on pitching limitations, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association announced yesterday.

The No. 12 Mustangs (18-5) will meet Kent Island for the championship at 4:30 p.m. today at Ripken Stadium.

The National Federation of High School Associations rule states that a pitcher cannot pitch more than 14 innings in a seven-day period, or more than 10 innings in a three-day period.

South Hagerstown's Brandon Knight pitched all seven innings in the win over Marriotts Ridge, which gave him a total of 15 innings over seven days.

Marriotts Ridge coach Paul Eckert said he has mixed emotions about his team's unexpected shot at a state title.

"I'm certainly happy for our kids, but I've been on the other side of this," Eckert said. "I really feel for South Hagerstown, but this has happened before."

South Hagerstown was informed of the MPSSAA's decision yesterday morning.

"It was terrible," South Hagerstown athletic director Mike Tesla said. "We brought [the players] into the cafeteria and told them. It's a senior-laden team. There wasn't a dry eye in the place."

Tesla said games being postponed and rescheduled because of rain caused the rule to be inadvertently violated.

"We waited eight days to play our first playoff game ... then we played four games in seven days," he said. "It's no excuse. They just didn't keep track of the innings."

Tesla said South Hagerstown coach Ralph Stottlemyer blamed himself for the oversight and was so distraught that he was taken to a hospital after experiencing chest pains.

"I think he's going to be OK," Tesla said.

The last time a victory in the state semifinals was overturned because of a violation of the pitching rule was in 2004 when Eastern Tech had to forfeit its 4-0 win over Liberty, which went on to win the state championship.

Sun reporter Kevin Eck contributed to this article.

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