Laughlin’s baseball team thought it was celebrating a 16-12 win over Needles on Friday at Mountain View that would advance the Cougars to the Class 2A Southern League title game.
Moments later, the umpire crew ruled the game a forfeit due to a pitching count violation.
As a result, Needles (17-8) was awarded a 7-0 victory, and will play Lincoln County (21-3) for the Class 2A Southern Region title at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mountain View. If Needles wins, a second game will be played to determine the champion.
“The NIAA has to make a determination on this game, and the ruling was what the umpires made after the game,” tournament director Kaitlin Glover said.
According to rules stated on the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association website, “A pitcher may not throw more than 110 pitches in any one day. If a pitcher violates any of the above pitch-count provisions, the team of which he or she is a member forfeits the game in which the violation occurs.”
Class 2A Southern Region president Bill Darrow said the umpires — who refused to identify themselves or comment about their decision before abruptly leaving the field — made it clear to everyone that no games will be played under protest, and the outcome must be determined right then, on the field.
“There are no protests, it’s what the umpires say, it says it right there in the rules,” Darrow said. “In my opinion, that’s wrong because that’s too much power for three guys. I’m not the guy making the decisions.”
Darrow, whose son Dillon plays for Needles, said after the umpire crew met with the official tournament scorekeeper, Keegan McCann, and Laughlin coach Tony Petrik, it was determined that freshman pitcher Diego Trujillo exceeded the daily limit by 13 pitches.
“I stood there before the game, in between our playing of this game, and said how many pitches do my kids have left … and he looked and said ‘this, this and this,’” Petrik said, while pleading his case to Darrow. “They have been off all day. They had a discrepancy of 18 pitches this morning in our game with Meadows, that’s how off they were.”
Glover said she was told by NIAA officials it’s up to each coach to keep track of pitch counts, not the responsibility of McCann, who denied discussing specific pitch counts with Petrik.
According to McCann’s official book, Trujillo threw 123 pitches over two games, against The Meadows and Needles.
“Both sides are doing their best, nobody wants this to come to this,” Needles coach Ken Parker said. “I think (the rule is) in place to keep pitchers healthy, and not injuring them. I think in the fifth inning, when it was an issue, maybe it should have been addressed then, and discussed longer.
“Tony is a severely respected coach for a long time. I respect him and his program and the kids. There’s a lot of kids that work hard, you just hate to see something like that come down and how it went down. Nobody wants to win or lose like that. My heart goes out to Laughlin and Tony.”
Laughlin ended its season at 18-9.
Laughlin 7, The Meadows 6 — After blowing a 6-2 lead in the top of the seventh and allowing The Meadows to tie the game, Laughlin’s Tyreece Gonzalez stroked a walk-off single that scored Andrew Braaksma.
Five players had two hits each for Laughlin, led by Braaksma, who has two RBIs. Trujillo got the win after pitching the final two innings for the Cougars.
Adam Martinez went 2-for-4 with a home run, two runs and an RBI to lead The Meadows (13-11). Nathaniel van der Post also went 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs for the Mustangs
Lincoln County 21, Needles 19 — The Lynx survived a scare to win their sixth straight game and advance to Saturday’s championship.
After seeing an 11-5 lead evaporate in the fifth inning when Needles plated nine runs to pull ahead 14-11, Lincoln County responded with five runs in the bottom half of both the fifth and sixth innings to hold off the Mustangs.
McKinley O’Connor went 3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs for the Lynx, Kamden Lewis was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, and Dean Ottley was 2-for-3 with four runs scored and two RBIs.
Reid Shaver led Needles, going 3-for-5 with four runs scored and an RBI. Ryan Dunn was 3-for-3 with a run scored and one RBI for the Mustangs.
Pahranagat Valley 14, Indian Springs 9 — The Panthers rallied from an early two-run deficit to top the Thunderbirds to move into the Class 1A Southern Region final.
Indian Springs led 5-3 after three innings, but the Panthers scored three runs apiece in the fourth and fifth innings to pull away.
Pahranagat Valley (18-9), which will be seekings its fourth straight region title, will play at Indian Springs (23-3) at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The Thunderbirds must win twice.
Indian Springs 17, Beatty 2 — The Thunderbirds eliminated the Hornets (8-9) in three innings in the final game of the day. Beatty eliminated Tonopah (13-9-1) in the second game of the day.