Members of the Olivet baseball team woke up Wednesday expecting to play for a spot in a regional final and add to a historic season.
That opportunity never unfolded for the Eagles.
Olivet was forced to forfeit its regional semifinal matchup against Charlotte due to having a pitcher going over the number of allowed pitches during Saturday’s district tournament wins at Gull Lake.
“It’s a gut punch to them,” Olivet coach Bill Whitely said. “Those kids were all excited all day about having this game and playing well. We were playing Charlotte, who we had beaten just 8-2 last week and we didn’t throw our best pitcher, so we felt really good about matching up with them.
“The kids were just totally crushed. Totally crushed.”
The Michigan High School Athletic Association made the forfeit decision after ruling that Olivet miscounted the total number of pitches thrown by its pitcher and that the daily limit was exceeded. The MHSAA rules allow a pitcher to throw a maximum of 105 pitchers in a day.
“It’s absolutely unfortunate and the last thing we want to see happen is having a team have to leave the tournament for something like this,” MHSAA spokesperson Geoff Kimmerly said. “Ultimately it’s up to a team to make sure a pitcher doesn’t go over the pitch count. This time that happened.”
There was a discrepancy in pitches thrown by the pitcher in question between Olivet and Marshall during Saturday’s district final. Whitely thought Gull Lake — the district host — would have someone tracking pitches thrown. The MHSAA rules state host sites should have a pitch count recorder for state tournament games.
Whitely was told by Gull Lake they weren’t recording the number of pitches thrown. In that case, he figured Olivet’s count was the basis of the decision. Marshall thought the pitcher had thrown a few more pitches than Olivet’s count. Whitely checked with the umpires regarding the situation and went with his team’s pitch count.
“My feeling and our feeling at Olivet was because of the inequities and the way the tournament was run at Gull Lake, we are being punished when we did everything by the rule that we were supposed to do at that specific time,” Whitely said.
“Just because we were off, does that mean I’m supposed to go by what Marshall says or am I supposed to go by what we have? That’s where the problem came up.”
In time, Whitely hopes his players realize how special this spring was for his program. The disappointment of not being able to see what more this group could accomplishment made for a tough pill to swallow.
“This was the second gut punch,” Whitely said. “The first was like a soft blow. This was like a knockout blow in the stomach. The first one was getting snubbed by the Diamond Classic and not getting in. This was just like icing on the cake for a team that had a tremendous season .
“I think our kids and our program prides itself on doing things the right way and playing the game the right way. You always try to teach life lessons and I tell the kids things don’t always go your way, but you’ve got to make the best of it. This was another life lesson for this group of kids.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway,