Lexington baseball’s 5A state title series set after Summerville loses appeals process

The South Carolina High School League’s executive committee denied Summerville’s appeal to overturn a forfeiture that would have allowed the Green Wave back into the Class 5A baseball championship series.

The committee voted 11-0 Tuesday to uphold the league’s ruling regarding a Summerville pitch-count violation that happened Thursday against Ashley Ridge.

Summerville later Tuesday announced it was waiving its right to a second and final appeal, setting the stage for Lexington High School to host Ashley Ridge in the best-of-three series.

“Unfortunately, we did not prevail. The ruling did not go our way,” Summerville principal Michelle Leviner wrote in a statement. “But I don’t want this ruling to overshadow the great season the varsity baseball team had. Only they know what they went through and how they battled to get where they did this season.

“While this is not the outcome we were hoping for, we will be rooting for Ashley Ridge High School, our sister school, as they compete for the state championship against Lexington the next several days.”

Game 1 of the series will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Lexington. Game 2 will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Ashley Ridge. Game 3, if necessary, would be Monday at Airport High School.

Summerville defeated Ashley Ridge, 6-4, in the third game of the lower state finals, but the S.C. High School League ruled Friday that the school had to forfeit the victory over Ashley Ridge because of the rules violation.

Lexington was originally set to host Game 1 of the championship series on Saturday, but that was delayed because of the appeals process.

Summerville’s case

Leviner and athletic director Matt Legare stated the Green Wave’s case in the more than hour-long meeting. Summerville baseball coach Thane Maness wasn’t in the meeting.

Ashley Ridge athletic director Randall Tucker and baseball coach BJ Bellush were present to answer questions.

Summerville player Thayer Tavormina threw two pitches Wednesday night and then 83 on Thursday. According to SCHSL rules, a player who pitches on consecutive days cannot throw more than 75 pitches on the second day no matter how many pitches he had on the first day. If he goes over that 75-pitch limit, it’s an automatic forfeit, according to the rules.

Ashley Ridge’s Ethan Lopez also pitched back-to-back days. Lopez threw 23 pitches on Wednesday and then 71 on Thursday. AR pulled Lopez out of the game because he was at the pitch-count limit with a 4-1 lead.

This is the first year of the altered rule in South Carolina. Previously, if a pitcher threw less than 30 pitches on one day, he could throw 110 pitches the following day. The rule change was approved by the S.C. Baseball Coaches Association.

Leviner admitted the violation but argued that the new rule wasn’t communicated properly, even though it was pointed out that Maness was at the January S.C. coaches meeting when the rule was discussed. SCHSL associate commissioner Charlie Wentzky denied that claim and pointed out the various amounts of communication that was sent out regarding the rule — including as recently as May when the playoffs began.

“Every baseball coach in the state had an opportunity to get the information,” Wentzky said.

Summerville contended that their coaching staff was operating under the old pitch-count rule. According to Wentzky, high school teams use technology to enter pitches on a given gameday that would have told them 75 was the limit for Tavormina on Thursday.

“I look at those pitch counts when I leave my office and numerous times before the game,” said committee member David Byrd, who is the head baseball coach at Cheraw.

Wentzky said this is the first and only violation of the new pitch count rule all season.

Summerville presented an argument to punish the coaches or athletic director and not the players.

“This was not a simple mess-up,” Leviner said. “This was big, and we know that. But again, I feel like the consequence, and who it’s affecting, is not appropriate.”

If Summerville opts to take its case to the SCHSL appellate panel, commissioner Jerome Singelton said the start of the championship series could begin the day after that hearing is held.

The appellate panel has shown to be more lenient and has overturned executive committee rulings, including this year. In March, they granted Lucy Beckham lacrosse its appeal. The panel allowed the team to play a full season and not be banned from the playoffs even though it violated rules when it played in an offseason tournament in Florida.

Earlier this month, it allowed JL Mann boys tennis back in the postseason after the executive committee ruled that Mann would have to forfeit its Class 5A playoffs match against Dorman because of improper documentation regarding its lineup. The head coach was suspended for the rest of playoffs, but JL Mann was allowed back in and went on to win the state championship.

Lexington loses its appeal

Lexington also made an appeal Tuesday to freeze the pitching availability for the start of the championship so that it would match what would have been in place had the series started on time.

The executive committee voted 8-3 to deny the appeal.

Lexington officials, including coach Brian Hucks, wanted pitch counts based on when the state championship series was expected to start. Lexington said they have lost their competitive advantage they gained by staying in the winners bracket and finishing their series ahead of the lower state.

Singleton called the appeal a “selfish move” on Lexington’s behalf.

SCHSL Playoffs

Class 5A

Best-of-3 State Championship Series

Lexington vs. Ashley Ridge

Thursday: Ashley Ridge at Lexington, 6:30 p.m.

Friday: Lexington at Ashley Ridge, 6:30 p.m.

Monday: Lexington vs. Ashley Ridge at Airport High School, if necessary, TBD

Class 4A

Best-of-3 State Championship Series

Laurens vs. James Island

Monday: James Island 5, Laurens 4

Wednesday: James Island at Laurens

Friday: Laurens vs. James Island at neutral site if necessary

Class 3A

Best-of-3 State Championship Series

Powdersville vs. Hanahan

Monday: Hanahan 9, Powdersville 5

Wednesday: Hanahan at Powdersville

May 25: Powdersville vs. Hanahan at neutral site, if necessary

Class 2A

Best-of-3 Championship Series

Mid-Carolina vs. Oceanside Collegiate

Monday: Oceanside 4, Mid-Carolina 0

Wednesday: Oceanside at Mid-Carolina, 6 p.m.

May 25: Mid-Carolina vs. Oceanside at neutral site, if necessary

Class A

Best of 3 Championship Series

Latta vs. Southside Christian

Monday: Southside Christian 8, Latta 6

Wednesday: Latta at Southside Christian

Saturday: Latta vs. Southside Christian at neutral site, if necessary