High School Sports

West baseball coach, pitcher suspended for one game at state

West High played Garden City in the 6A regional championship game. (May 20, 2016)
West High played Garden City in the 6A regional championship game. (May 20, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

West baseball coach Jeff Hoover and pitcher Colby Pechin have been suspended for the Pioneers’ first game at the Class 6A tournament on Thursday because of a violation of Kansas State High School Activities Association rules.

Pechin threw 10 innings of West’s 16-inning regional championship win over Garden City on Friday. KSHSAA rules allow for nine innings in one day.

“I’m not upset about me,” Hoover said. “Punish me, that’s OK. I don’t agree with punishing the kid. That’s on me. Not him.”

Hoover said he spoke with a member of the game’s umpiring crew and asked about throwing 10 innings.

“He told me that, ‘well, they can throw 10. That’s not punishable,’ ” Hoover said.

Northwest pitcher Aaron Rhodes and Garden City pitcher Colton Snodgrass each threw 10 innings in their regional semifinal game, which Garden City won in 13 innings. Garden City’s Syrus Schwartz also threw 10 innings in two regional games on Friday. Both teams’ seasons have ended.

“We will follow up with that as it comes to next season with the coaches,” said Jeremy Holaday, a KSHSAA assistant executive director for baseball. “It will be addressed. They’re not going to get off free.”

The rule is in place to protect pitchers, he said.

“This rule that we have has been in existence for as long as I’ve known,” Holaday said. “It’s been there since I played. It’s a rule to prevent overuse in an arm. That’s why this rule is there. It’s not a competitive thing so much as strictly a sports medicine risk-minimization rule.”

Hoover said he talked to Pechin and told him his pitch count was rising. Wichita Eagle reporter Sean Boston tracked 157 pitches by Pechin.

“I know I have to look out and save a kid from himself,” Hoover said. “His velocity was the same as it was in the third inning. Everything was good. He felt fine.

“… He said, ‘if you asked me at the start of the year if I would sacrifice myself for a chance to go to state for a game, then I would have said yes. I stand by that.’ 

In 2014, West ended a 122-game City League baseball losing streak.

Overuse of pitchers is a concern at the college level, as well, because it can take a toll on their arms.

Holaday said the KSHSAA asked baseball coaches to log innings, pitch counts and days of rest into a secure data base on its website. More than 5,000 entries were logged this season.

“The thought is pitch count is a big concern,” he said.

Joanna Chadwick: 316-268-6270, @joannachadwick