N.J. team becomes first victim of state's new pitch count rule

N.J. team becomes first victim of state's new pitch count rule

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N.J. team becomes first victim of state's new pitch count rule

The NJSIAA’S newly implemented and convoluted pitching rules claimed their first violator.

Colonia (Woodbridge, N.J.) unintentionally brought back Chris Michael to face Rumson-Fair Haven on three days’ rest when the junior right-hander needed to stay off the mound for four days.

Michael, who threw 107 pitches while going the distance in a 3-2 win over South Plainfield on April 11, returned to the mound on April 15 to throw 29 pitches in two scoreless innings of relief during a 10-7 win over Rumson-Fair Haven.

Among the NJSIAA’s many new pitch-count regulations, contained in a six-page document on the statewide athletics association’s official website, a pitcher who throws 91 pitches or more in a game requires four days’ rest.

RELATED: Pitch count rules vary but mission is same: Protect young arms

A pitcher, however, is allowed under the new rules to throw a total of 140 pitches over a five-day span. Michael threw a total of 137 pitches from April 11 through April 15.

Prior to this season, Michael would have been eligible to return to the mound on three days’ rest after throwing seven innings because the NJSIAA’s previous pitching regulations allowed hurlers to throw 10 innings over a four-day stretch.

Michael was one of six Colonia pitchers used on Saturday against Rumson-Fair Haven. Only one of the six threw more than 29 pitches. Michael would have been scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday had he not pitched against Rumson-Fair Haven because Colonia was off on Easter Sunday and the Patriots were not scheduled to return to action until April 17.

Colonia self-reported the unintentional infraction to the NJSIAA and Rumson-Fair Haven, which will be awarded a forfeit victory, improving the Bulldogs’ record to 3-5 and dropping the Patriots’ record to 4-4.

Minutes after MyCentralJersey.com reported Colonia’s infraction, NJAdvanceMedia reported that Butler apparently used a pitcher beyond his eligibility in a game against Mount Olive, also last week.

A pinpoint accurate hurler, Michael entered the Rumson-Fair Haven game with a 2-1 record and a 1.17 ERA. He fanned 13, allowed 12 hits and walked just one over 18 innings. Opponents were batting a mere .169 against him. Last season, Michael went 5-1 with a 1.37 ERA.

Colonia head coach Vinny Esposito, who played in the Toronto Blue Jays organization and is one of the state’s most respected mentors for his attention to detail and ability to maximize players’ potential, said he accepts full responsibility for the unintentional infraction.

Esposito said, “I respect the game too much,” to ever violate its rules.

“Vinny does an excellent job,” Colonia Athletics Director Ben LaSala said. “He would never do anything on purpose. It’s unfortunate. I’m surprised it’s the first time it (any coach has violated the new pitching regulations) has happened. We made a mistake and we are going to move on.”

For more, visit MyCentralJersey.com

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