Knights, Warriors to meet again Thursday
NEW RICHMOND — It can’t be disputed that the Wyoming East Warriors, who had 11 hits for 10 runs in six innings, were on their way to a Region III Section IV championship win against the Mount View Golden Knights.
But the Golden Knights, who were down seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, won the ballgame by forfeit after it was found that Wyoming East head coach Ron Mayhew had pitched an illegal pitcher.
Mayhew called Travis McKinney to the mound in the bottom of the sixth after Warriors’ starting pitcher Nick Cook gave up a single and a walk to start the inning, producing only one out.
As high winds and dark clouds rushed over New Richmond, Mayhew and Mount View head coach Joe Riffe met at the mound before McKinney threw his first pitch.
“Basically, we were aware of how much (McKinney) pitched earlier in the week, so before he pitched a live pitch, I mentioned to the umpires and coaches that I didn’t think he was eligible,” Riffe said. “There was some conversation, and it was decided that he would stay in the game.”
“I heard Mount View’s coach say that I couldn’t pitch,” McKinney said. “Then he said he wanted to see the papers on it and then when he did, he said ‘never mind, he is eligible to pitch.’”
McKinney’s eligibility was under question because he pitched eight innings against the Bluefield Beavers in a sectional game that was started on Tuesday and continued on Wednesday due to postponement because of rain.
He threw two innings on Tuesday and six innings on Wednesday in the Warriors’ 12-8 extra-inning win over the Beavers.
At 6:24 p.m., McKinney threw his first and only pitch of the game — a low and outside ball to Mount View third baseman Jarrett Cochran.
After the pitch, an umpire spotted lightning over the field and the game was put on a mandatory 30-minute delay.
However, coaches and officials again questioned McKinney’s eligibility.
“A starting pitcher can throw up to 10 innings in one game,” Riffe said. “If you throw over seven, you have to take three days of rest. In their situation, he threw eight innings in a game, so today would have been his third day of rest.”
As coaches and officials debated on Mount View’s school bus, fans waited in the rain on a final decision, and rumors of what would happen spread among fans and players.
“I heard about 10 different rumors,” McKinney laughed. Mayhew and chief umpire Jim Kennedy went to Wyoming East High School where they called the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission headquarters in Parkersburg for guidance.
“We were trying to get ahold of Parkersburg because they wanted to know if (McKinney) was legal or illegal at the time,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy made contact with Charlie Lynch, the WVSSAC head of umpires.
“He told us to go by the scholastic rules and that’s what we had to go by,” Kennedy said.
“The rules said he was an ineligible pitcher. The coach was suspended for three games, and the pitcher (McKinney) cannot pitch, but he can play any other position for three games.”
When Mayhew arrived back at the field, he immediately called his team to a meeting in its practice facility.
“He told us he was sorry he messed up,” McKinney said of Mayhew, who declined to be interviewed after the game. “He said he made sure two or three times by each ump that I was eligible to pitch, but he shouldn’t have questioned it. He said he should have pitched another pitcher. “He’s heartbroken,” McKinney said. “He got tears in his eyes. I looked around and everyone had tears in their eyes, and I’m not gonna lie, I teared up too. He’s very sorry for what he did. He cares about this.”
Riffe said his players were happy to have another chance at the sectional championship.
“They’re excited, of course, to still be in it, but I told them ‘it is what it is,’” Riffe said. “I hate that it came to that. That’s why I pointed it out before (McKinney) threw a live pitch. But the decision was made, and we’ll play another day. Hopefully we’ll play another good game like we have the last three.”
Coaches attempted to play the championship game immediately after the forfeited game, but steady rain rendered the field unplayable.
The Wyoming East Warriors will have five days to physically and mentally prepare for its final sectional game, in which all Mount View players will be eligible to pitch.
The game cannot be held until Thursday due to state testing. The first pitch is slated for 6 p.m. at Warrior Field.
Class AA, Region III, Section 4 Tournament
at Wyoming East High School
Monday, May 9
Game 1: Bluefield 5, Mount View 4
Game 2: Wyoming East def. River View
Tuesday, May 10
Game 3: Bluefield vs. Wyoming East, ppd. to Wednesday
Wednesday, May 11
Game 3: Wyoming East 12, Bluefield 8
Game 4: Mount View 11 River View 1
Thursday, May 12
Game 5: Mount View 3, Bluefield 2, 11 innings
Friday, May 13
Game 6: Wyoming East vs. Mount View, ppd., rain.
Saturday, May 14
Game 6: Mount View wins by forfeit over Wyoming East
Game 7: Wyoming East vs. Mount View, ppd., rain
Thursday, May 19
Game 7: Mount View at Wyoming East, 6 p.m.