MIDDLEBURY — Two key components of the Northridge High School baseball team that defeated the No 5-ranked Penn Kingsmen Monday will be missing when the Raiders take the field in regional action Saturday.
IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox suspended Northridge pitcher Davis Enfield and coach Andrew Brabender for the regional semifinal game against Mishawaka due to Enfield exceeding the maximum numbers of pitches a pitcher is allowed to throw in a game. The semifinal game is Saturday at LaPorte High School.
Northridge trimmed the Kingsmen, 2-0, in the championship of the Class 4A sectional at Elkhart Memorial Monday behind a stellar pitching performance by Enfield, who allowed a mere two hits to go with 12 strikeouts and six walks over 6 2/3 innings.
The problem is Enfield exceeded the maximum number of pitches for a game.
According to the 2019 IHSAA Spring Bulletin, “No pitcher may throw more than 120 pitches in a varsity game in one day.”
"The pitch limit per game is 120, however, if a pitcher hits that mark during an at-bat he is allowed to finish the batter," IHSAA Sports Information Director Jason Wille said.
By the pitch count rule, Enfield had to come off the mound after finishing pitching to the batter when he hit the limit. He did throw one pitch to the next hitter before junior right-hander Cam Knepp took the hill following a discussion by the umpires and coaches.
“I’m completely confused,” Northridge coach Andrew Brabender told The Goshen News after Monday’s game. “That’s my fault. I thought he could throw 120 plus (finish the batter).”
Northridge issued the following statement Tuesday:
“During an IHSAA sectional championship baseball game against Penn High School on Monday, May 27, 2019, the Northridge High School coaching staff committed a rules violation by allowing starting pitcher Davis Enfield to exceed the maximum pitch count in a single game. NHS athletic director Dave Harms reported the rules violation to the IHSAA immediately following the game, which was held at Elkhart Memorial High School. On Tuesday, May 28, 2019, IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox suspended Enfield and Northridge head coach Andrew Brabender for the regional semifinal game against Mishawaka High School, which will be held on Saturday, June 1, 2019, at La Porte High School. Enfield and Brabender can return to the team for the regional championship Saturday night if Northridge advances past the semifinal.”
Wille confirmed the fact that had this incident happened during the regular season, it would have involved a forfeit. But since it happened in the postseason, it involves suspensions.
"The difference between the regular season and the postseason gives the commissioner some latitude and not have to penalize the whole team. The team is allowed to advance in the tournament," Willie said.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) announced in 2016 it had approved a rule change that would require pitching restrictions based on the number of pitches thrown in a game. Prior to this, pitchers could throw 10 innings every three days in Indiana.
“Innings can be pretty deceptive,” then-Goshen coach Josh Keister told The News for a July 13, 2016 article about the rule change. “A pitcher could throw 1,000 pitches in an inning.”
Brabender was contacted for the same July 13, 2016 article.
“I think the pitch count is a great idea,” he said. “At Northridge we try to build our kids up. We have them on a pitch count during the winter and then they are ready to go at the start of the season. My rule at Northridge is the number of pitches thrown in a game, the pitcher needs that many hours off.
“I played four years of college baseball and there were times I pitched on two or three days rest. Times were different back then; if the coach asked you to take the ball, you took the ball. My problem was also being catcher, so if I wasn’t on the mound, I was behind the plate.”
Brabender has had two surgeries on his arm due to baseball injuries.
Greg Keim can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 326. Follow Greg on Twitter @gkeim_TGN