Area baseball coaches adjusting to new pitch count rule


Staff Writer

Published: 05-13-2021 10:56 AM

The return of baseball to Massachusetts high school fields means the debut of pitch count rules that were supposed to take effect last season.

Varsity pitchers are now limited to 115 pitches per outing. If they throw the 115th pitch during an at bat, they can finish the at bat before they must be removed. Depending on how many pitches are thrown, a different number of rest days will be required before the athlete can pitch again. Failure to follow those guidelines will result in the player being declared ineligible and a forfeit.

“This is going to help to ensure coaches aren’t pushing kids beyond their limit without a severe consequence of using an illegal player,” Easthampton coach Ed Zuchowski said. “There isn’t any flexibility. The consequence is too harsh to have a kid go in. I think it was long overdue.”

If a player throws between 71 and 115 pitches, they’ll need four days of rest. Between 56 and 70 requires three days, 41-55 mandates two days and 26-40 needs one day. Players don’t need a rest day if they throw between one and 25 pitches. If a pitcher has thrown 71-90 pitches, he can throw 25 pitches on his fourth day of rest.

“For me it’s not going to change it. I actually think when they came out with the rules I heard some people griping,” Hopkins Academy coach Dan Vreeland said. “I already use those rules or I was a little stronger than some of those rules.”

Both teams are required to track pitchers for both teams and submit completed paperwork with the score sheet. Coaches will designate players not eligible to pitch on their lineup cards. They’ll meet every two innings and at the conclusion of the game to make sure their counts line up. In disputes, the home team’s count is official.

“I think it will change the game. I think it will be difficult for some of the smaller schools that don’t have the same depth of arms,” Belchertown coach Evan Berneche said. “It’s going to play into some strategy here. You might see some weird things. I’ve dabbled in the idea of having an opener.”

The rules may be tested or more restrictive for smaller teams with fewer pitchers and multiple games in a week. The decision is no longer up to the players and coaches based on feeling.

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“It becomes more of a secretarial aspect for me. There were times I’d over-throw a starter, but he wouldn’t throw again for a week,” Granby coach Jim Woods said. “I told the kids you always tell me when you’ve got to shut it down.”

The rules don’t allow wiggle room for tournament or championship play.

“My one quarrel with it is if you’re in like a Western Mass. championship are and you have a guy dealing and you want him to throw eight, nine, 10 innings, that’s out,” Frontier Regional coach Chris Williams said. “I’ve only seen it done a few times in my life, but the times I’ve seen it done, those guys have won baseball games. Once in a blue moon I think it’s OK for guys to leave it all out there. It is about protecting the kids and making sure there’s longevity throughout scholastic sports.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.]]>