As first reported by NJ Advance Media’s Luis Torres, the Ridge baseball team – the top seed in the North 2, Group 4 playoffs – has been disqualified from the rest of the state tournament after a pitch count violation.
The report says the violation came in the Red Devils’ 8-1 quarterfinal win over eighth-seed Westfield on Thursday, when ace Connor Byrne threw 82 pitches, following a 69-pitch outing Monday against Piscataway. That would have given him 151 pitches thrown in a period of four calendar days, one over the NJSIAA pitch limit for a five-day calendar period.
According to the NJSIAA pitch count rules, the five-day rule is a hard limit of 150 pitches. The rule says: “Once the 150-pitch limit in five calendar days is reached, the pitcher may not continue with the current batter.”
That’s different from the single-day rule, which says once the 110-pitch limit is reached, a pitcher may continue until the batter reaches base, is retired, or the third out is recorded to complete that half-inning or game.
The rule did not always include the caveat that a pitcher who reaches 150 in a five-day period must be removed immediately.
The report by NJ Advance Media said the game was protested by Westfield, to determine whether or not Byrne exceeded the limit.
The NJSIAA provided the following statement in an email to Central Jersey Sports Radio Saturday afternoon: “During Thursday’s quarterfinal game of the NJSIAA Section 2, Group 4 baseball tournament, Ridge High School violated pitch count rules. As a result, its pitcher was declared ineligible and, per rule, Ridge was required to forfeit. Westfield High School will now advance to face Bayonne High School on Tuesday (5/30).”
The NJSIAA rules state: “Failure to remove a pitcher when he has reached the maximum number of pitches thrown is the basis for protest by the opposing coach. If the protest is upheld, the penalty shall be forfeiture of the game.”
Ridge head coach Tom Blackwell, when reached via text message, said he was speaking to his team on a Zoom call. This story will be updated with additional comments, if available.
The result means Ridge – one of the favorites to win not only the section, but maybe even a statewide Group 4 title – is out, and Westfield is back in. The Blue Devils will now play at fifth-seed Bayonne Tuesday in one semifinal game, while third-seed Woodbridge and two-seed Bridgewater-Raritan square off in the other semifinal, for a trip to the North 2, Group 4 championship game.
It also means whichever CJSR-area team wins the Woodbridge-Bridgewater game would now be guaranteed to host the finals, since the teams in the other semi would both be lower seeds.