Sunday, June 1, 2014

Another head scratcher by WPIAL officials

California completed its perfect ride to a WPIAL Class A title Thursday night with a 6-1 victory over Carmichaels.

The Trojans displayed why they have been the consensus number one team in Class A since the start of the season with a dominance pitching performance by Josh Luko, sound hitting from across their lineup and a strong infield defense.

It’s always a great sight when a group of kids get to celebrate a WPIAL championship. The joy on their faces reflects the countless hours of hard work that included preseason workouts, multiple practices per week and overcoming the dreadful weather Western Pennsylvania had this spring.

The controversy surrounding the game began Tuesday when the WPIAL decided to suspend play in the top of the fourth inning after Mikes senior pitcher Brandon Lawless faced three batters. High school rules state that one pitch over three innings two full days of rest for a pitcher.

That rule relegated Lawless to third base when the game continued Thursday night. While the championship win for California was well-deserved, breaking the game up in the fourth inning sucked the excitement out of the air.

The crowd was much smaller Thursday and Carmichaels did not have its emotional leader on the mound. One cannot argue that the Mikes have another pitcher that replicates what Lawless can accomplish. That’s not saying anything negative about Billy Bowlen or Cory Fuller, but Lawless is going to be a very good Division II baseball player at Alderson Broaddus.

Championship games are meant to be played with the best possible lineup on the field. The WPIAL’s decision to start the game Tuesday night eliminated that element from the Class A title game.

There was an 85 percent chance of rain at 8 p.m. Tuesday when first pitch was scheduled. Radar showed a storm heading toward Consol Energy Park. It did not take Miss Cleo to realize rain, and possibly lightning, was bound for Washington.

The WPIAL had Consol Energy Park available for three days. There was a small chance of rain onWednesday and the forecast was bright for Thursday.

With those mitigating factors, there was no reason for the WPIAL to attempt to rush the Class A title game in on Tuesday night. After Steel Valley won the Class AA championship, umpires and WPIAL officials should have met to reevaluate the weather situation.

California and Carmichaels are not too far for transportation back to Washington to be an issue. As was the case at the WPIAL Individual Track & Field Championships, it was obvious that they were trying to rush the game in before rain began, although inclement weather was inevitable.

Having three full games on the schedule for Wednesday or Thursday would have improved attendance numbers and most importantly, would have allowed both teams to field their best lineups for the most important game of the season.

Nothing about the situation made sense and unfortunately, Carmichaels paid the price for a lack of oversight.

The scoreboard this spring reads:  Weather 2, WPIAL 0.

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