May 19, 2010 9:02:00 AM
The Hamilton and Bruce high school baseball teams were still waiting this morning for a decision from the Mississippi High School Activities Association to determine which team will get a chance to play for a state title.
The MHSAA''s executive committee was expected to hear an appeal by Bruce this morning in regard to an apparent rules violation associated with the number of innings a pitcher is allowed to throw in one week.
The issue involves Bruce''s Caleb Hanley pitching more than the mandated 17 innings in a week per the 2009-10 MHSAA handbook.
Hanley pitched seven innings Monday against Eupora in game three of the semifinal-round series. He then pitched six innings Friday in a 10-0 victory against Hamilton in game two of the Class 2A North Half State title series. He started game three Saturday at Hamilton High and pitched 4 2/3 innings in Bruce''s 6-5 victory that helped it clinch the Class 2A North Half State title.
His total of 17 2/3 innings came into question Monday.
A decision was expected by midday today.
Hamilton coach Lewis Earnest said Tuesday afternoon he was asked not to comment on how the situation reached this point. He said it has been a "nerve-wracking" day filled with phone calls from coaches, parents, and other people offering support, empathy, or looking for information.
Earnest wishes he wasn''t in this predicament.
"I don''t know what to tell them," Earnest said. "It is just not a good situation to be in all around. I don''t like it one bit. Even if the ruling is for us, I would rather not be in the middle of it. I don''t wish it on anybody."
Earnest said it is a "lose-lose" situation because people will consider the Hamilton High baseball program whiners because it lost or that it is turning in a friend. Earnest said he doesn''t think Bruce coach Sid Burt used Hanley more than 17 innings intentionally and that it was by accident, but he said he still has an obligation to his players to fight for them.
MHSAA spokesperson Phyfa Eiland said Tuesday that the association would issue a press release about the decision later that morning. She said later Tuesday the MHSAA wouldn''t release a statement until today.
Eiland said Monday the MHSAA only acts on a possible rules violation when it receives a written complaint. She said the MHSAA received that complaint Monday afternoon.
Earnest said Tuesday morning the MHSAA hadn''t notified the school of its decision. He sent a text message later in the morning that said Bruce was appealing the MHSAA''s ruling and that a decision was expected today.
Earnest said Monday that Hamilton was going to give Bruce the opportunity to report the incident to the MHSAA.
It was unclear if Bruce or another party submitted written notification of the incident to the MHSAA.
Bruce led 6-3 entering the bottom of the fifth and Hanley retired the first two batters before Dylan Earnest doubled and Chase Reeves walked. Jay King relieved Hanley and got out of the jam.
Kevin McCartney and Earnest hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but it wasn''t enough for the Lions.
The MHSAA baseball state title series are scheduled to be played May 25-29 at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
2. Walters column: Prep football season coming closer LOCAL COLUMNS