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GHSA unanimously approves pitch count rules for high school baseball

GHSA baseball

The Georgia High School Association unanimously approved a new set of pitch count rules in baseball at its fall executive committee meeting Monday in Macon.

As part of a mandate by the National Federation of High Schools, the GHSA will limit pitchers to 110 pitches in a game. The pitcher will be allowed to finish the current at-bat before being replaced.

Under previous rules, there were no pitch counts in Georgia and pitchers were limited to 10 innings per calendar day with a maximum of 14 innings in four consecutive calendar days.

The new changes are effective immediately.

"I think the pitch count rules can be a good thing," said Cartersville High School head coach Stuart Chester. "It's just important that everyone is held accountable and accurate with the record keeping."

Rest for pitchers is a vital part of the new pitch count rules. If a pitcher throws 86 or more pitches, the pitcher is required to rest for three days. Pitchers throwing 61 to 85 pitches will be required to have two days of rest.

Pitchers who throw 36 to 60 pitches are required to take a day of rest.

No rest would be required for pitchers throwing 35 or less pitches. However, a pitcher would have to take a day off if he throws 60 pitches on consecutive days.

The rule gets more complex in the postseason where pitchers won’t be allowed to throw more than 120 pitches in a series unless weather extends the series. Any pitcher who reaches 40 pitches or more in a single state tournament game will be restricted to the same days of rest as designated during the regular season.

"The new rules won't bother us," concluded Chester. "We stay on a strict pitch count."

It will be the responsibility of the official scorer (home and visitor) to maintain pitch count records.

Violators will be subject to a $250 fine and a two-game suspension for the head coach. A second offense would net a $500 fine and a minimum suspension of four games. The coach would also have to be re-instated by the GHSA executive director.

"I think the pitch count plan is a step in the right direction when it comes to the health of young arms," added Cass head coach Adam Williams. "Anything we can do to help players stay healthy is a great idea and one I can stand behind."

Williams shared Chester's concerns, however, about how the record keeping will take place.

"I feel as if there could be a better way to be more transparent, so that not only other coaches, but even parents could keep coaches accountable," Williams said.

A proposal was also submitted to allow baseball teams to conduct tryouts during the fall. The proposal failed to pass out of the baseball committee.

The other new item, previously approved by the GHSA, is the centralized sites for the 2017 State Championship series'.

The state finals for each classification will be played at either State Mutual Stadium in Rome or at Golden Park in Columbus. The GHSA will place the games in one stadium or the other based on the participants in each championship series. "I'm not a fan of centralizing the state championships," said Canes' skipper Chester. "I think it is going to make travel costs go up for the participating schools, and regardless of whether we've been the home or away team in a finals, the championships are best at school sites."

The GHSA cites items such as the large stadium seating capacities, adequate restroom and concessions facilities, and potential televising of the state finals as positives to centralizing baseball in a similar fashion to other sports.

"I think it will bring even more exposure to the high school game." noted Williams. "As a coach I like it because it gives you a destination to the journey, similar to Omaha in the college game."

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