Make Every Pitch Count: Coaches and Baseball Teams Adapt to the PIAA Rule | Sports
Penn Cambria junior Mason Ronan threw a gem on Wednesday at Lilly Washington War Memorial Field.
The 6-foot-2 left-hander had not allowed a hit in 5-1 / 3 innings against Bishop McCort Catholic, the state runner-up in AA class last season. Ronan had 13 strikeouts and looked solid with his team leading 4-0.
Yet his outing was over. Ronan had thrown 100 shots – the limit per game under the new PIAA pitch rule.
Those associated with the game agree that the intent of the rule – to protect the arms of young players – is the most important aspect of the new guidelines.
Coaches always learn to navigate through the season by strategizing, juggling pitchers and, of course, counting shots.
âA little gem – 13 Ks, cruise control,â said Penn Cambria coach Jim Ronan, Mason’s dad. “It’s hard to get him out.”
The Panthers won the game 4-2.
“It’s a disadvantage for a lot of good pitchers and teams,” he added. âThe advantages do not outweigh the disadvantages. I’m really not in favor of it because I think the coaches do a good job with their pitchers for the most part.
“The game has changed”
Coaches in the region have seen the pros and cons of the rule, which states that pitchers who throw 76 to 100 pitches must have three days off before appearing in another game.
If a pitcher reaches 100 pitches when an opposing player appears at home plate, the pitcher is allowed to complete that strike at bat.
If a player throws between 1 and 25 pitches in a game, no rest is required, and he could be on the mound the next day.
Those who throw 26 to 50 pitches must take one calendar day of rest, and 51 to 75 pitches require two calendar days of rest.
A launcher is prohibited from exceeding 200 locations in a week.
âI think that’s a good thing,â said veteran Portage area coach Larry McCabe. âTo be honest, I’ve been counting shots with my players my whole coaching career – 38 or 39 years.
âBut you could adjust more easily when the innings were pitched. Two games this year, I saw children withdrawn from a game because they had no more courts. It happened to the teams we played, not to us.
âI can see the game has changed in that aspect,â said McCabe. âIn my opinion, it’s great for the children who are arriving. You hear about Tommy John (elbow) surgery and experts think it’s because kids throw too many shots at too young a age.
Sleeves or throws?
The PIAA board of directors voted unanimously to approve the pitch rule in January, so coaches and players had a few months to prepare before practice and the regular season began. . Statisticians assigned specifically to monitoring locations were a popular commodity.
Previously, the PIAA’s pitching rules were based on the number of innings a pitcher pitched in a week.
âPro – it ensures safety,â said Wayne Miller, coach of the Meyersdale Red Raiders, Class A finalists last season. âThe old rule with innings, a kid could throw 35 or more throws in an inning. It was probably not the most precise way. The number of steps allows everyone to stay more precise.
“The downsides are that there are awkward pitch changes due to the rules with 25, 50 and 75 pitches and 100 being the maximum.”
Bishop McCort’s Catholic coach Chris Pfeil, a seasoned high school and AAABA coach / manager, agrees with the importance of protecting young arms, but is concerned about the pitch rule such as ‘it is currently written.
âObviously it’s become a big part of the game and everyone is a lot more aware of how many shots each guy is throwing,â said Pfeil. âPersonally, I’m not a fan of change.
âThere are so many variables on how much rest they have between starts, what kind of conditioning kids do and how hard they throw.
âAnd like any other rule, you can put the rule in place, but there are ways around the rule. The way the rule is written, you can throw 50 throws on Monday, 50 throws on Wednesday, and 50 throws on Friday. In the end, it’s probably worse for a kid than throwing 110 or 115 shots (in a game) and having five or six days off.
“Mark the strike zone”
The rule certainly has an impact on pitchers like Mason Ronan or Meyersdale’s Riley Christner, who are known to rack up strikeouts.
âHaving Riley Christner, who kills a lot of people, I have to manage his game because his counts are high,â said Miller of the Red Raiders. âFor a batting pitcher, getting a full game in 100 pitches or less is a challenge. One contact can get a full set without a problem.
As with any rule set, finding the sweet spot will be key to success on the mound.
âAt the end of the day, the guys who are throwing strikes will have lower pitch counts and go through innings faster,â said Bishop McCort’s Pfeil. âYou have to tell your pitchers to hit the strike zone and finish innings with as few shots as possible.
âThe rule hurts the strong pitchers a bit more – the guys who get a lot of strikeouts,â he said. âGuys who throw to hit and put the balls in play usually have a lower number of throws. It’s just an adjustment.
Joe Carpenter of Forest Hills is in his 17th season as a head coach. Its Rangers are among the best teams at the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference this season.
Carpenter watched senior Jared Wehner pitch exactly 100 shots in a 3-2 win over Bedford on Wednesday.
âWehner was strong at 100 shots,â Carpenter said. âHe could have gone further. But we are not going to abuse children.
âIn May, you’re really going to have to have multiple pitchers to move forward (into the playoffs). A guy is usually not going to carry you unless he has a low-pitching game.
‘Health and security’
Carpenter is among coaches who believe the pitching count should be increased later in the season – when pitchers have built up arm strength after more than a month of games.
âIt just changes strategy, it really is,â Carpenter said.
âHonestly, we would like to see it extended. Have a system where March is less locations than April. By the time you get to the playoffs, extend it because the kids are stretched out with the pitching.
“They have games and the arms are more conditioned in May.”
Coach Ronan understands the rule was implemented for the right reasons. He also believes that most coaches are successful with or without a pitch rule.
âI’ve seen in the past where there’s been a kid (on an opposing team) who made almost 170 shots,â Ronan said. “I saw him. He works.
âBut for the most part, your high school coaches pay attention to their children and know their limits.
âThey give them good rest after 100 throws. They ensure the health and safety of their players. This is the fine line.
The main thing is simple.
âEveryone is subject to the same rules,â said the Ranger carpenter. âYou have to win the game you are up against. You have to use your pitcher to win that game that night and not worry about (keep a pitcher for the next day’s game). I want to win the game I’m playing that day and worry about it later, especially with our weather.