BOULDER — The Boulder baseball team's best start to a season in years hit an unexpected snag after what initially was recorded on the schedule as a momentous win last Saturday.
The Panthers, who claimed the No. 10 spot in the CHSAANow.com Class 5A rankings this week, won 9-5 over Front Range League opponent Fort Collins on Saturday. But in the days following the victory, the Boulder coaches realized they had accidentally used a relief pitcher that, per the Colorado High School Activities Association pitch count rules, was ineligible for that day's game.
Because of the violation, which was caused by a stat-keeping inconsistency and was self-reported by the Panthers, Boulder has forfeited Saturday's win.
"It was my mistake," Panthers head coach Jack Taylor said. "The most disappointing part for me is that the response of the Boulder community has been so great to the success of our team this season. People are excited for us and want to see us do well. As the coach and the leader of that team, I hate to let them down like that."
The forfeit will affect the Panthers (8-3, 2-2 Front Range) in terms of both their overall and conference records. Since Fort Collins entered Saturday's game with a 7-3 record, the Panthers will also lose valuable RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) points, which are the measure by which the majority of the postseason field is selected.
The pitch count violation occurred when Taylor summoned senior Sanjay Solomon from the bullpen to relieve starter Noel Hackett in the sixth inning of Saturday's game. Taylor's pitch chart indicated that Solomon had thrown 60 pitches in his previous outing and was available. The official stats, which were automatically updated from the GameChanger scoring app to MaxPreps.com after the Panthers' previous game, indicated that he had in fact thrown 62 pitches against Monarch on Thursday. The statewide pitch count limits require than any player that throws between 61-85 pitches in a game must be given a minimum of two days rest before pitching again.
Immediately realizing his error after the game, Taylor said he alerted Boulder athletic director Eddie Hartnett and the school reported the violation to CHSAA officials. Taylor then sent a letter to the Boulder baseball players and parents letting them know what had occurred. As a result of the violation, Taylor will be placed on restriction for the remainder of the season and next season.
"For me, we were up 9-1 when Sanjay went in and we had other guys that could have pitched," Taylor said. "We had other options and we didn't use them. He was looking really good in the bullpen, I looked over there and he was getting hot and he was ready to go so I put him in. In hindsight, that just kills me."
The Panthers have won 10 or fewer games in each of the past three seasons and even with the forfeiture of a conference victory, this year's team is close to matching that win total just past the midpoint of its 19-game schedule. Taylor said the players are taking the unexpected development in stride and the Panthers had one of their best practices of the season on Monday after receiving the bad news.
"It's unfortunate but it's one game early in the season and it's not changing anything for us," Taylor said. "We've set big goals for the season and we still think we can achieve them."