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MailTribune.com
  • YOUTH BASEBALL

    Bat controversy shrouds local youth tourney

    Tualatin coach pulled players off the field after pitcher was beaned by line drive off suspect bat
  • A rule discrepancy sparked by a concussion-causing line drive during a youth baseball tournament at U.S. Cellular Community Park gave one coach no other choice, he said, but to pull his team off the field in the third inning of a playoff game Sunday.
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  • A rule discrepancy sparked by a concussion-causing line drive during a youth baseball tournament at U.S. Cellular Community Park gave one coach no other choice, he said, but to pull his team off the field in the third inning of a playoff game Sunday.
    The line drive came off an aluminum bat not stamped with a bat performance factor (BPF) rate and drilled 12-year-old Tualatin pitcher Bryce Hulse in the head, dropping him to the mound.
    Hulse, pitching against Redding-based North State Wolfpack, suffered a slight concussion but is recovering well, said Greg Springer, head coach of the Tualatin team.
    The California team led 4-0 at the time.
    After Hulse was injured, Springer asked umpires to eject North State's coach and rule the batter out because the bat used was not marked for the BPF 1.15 standard, a regulatory measurement used by several youth baseball sanctioning bodies to determine a bat's springiness. Neither of Springer's requests were met, so he pulled his team from the championship game of the consolidation bracket, forfeiting.
    "I've coached youth sports for several years ... and I've certainly never had a situation where I ever pulled a team off the field, and I would do it again in a heartbeat," Springer said. "It's very unfortunate. We really had a very nice tournament, but first and foremost is the kids' safety."
    The Medford Parks and Recreation Department, which put on the Father's Day tourney, has rules outlining acceptable standards for equipment used in its youth baseball games, which the North State player's bat met, said tournament director Rich Rosenthal.
    Rosenthal, who is also the parks department's recreation supervisor, wrote the rules, procedures and regulations for youth baseball tournaments at USCCP, and he helped umpires make the call for the bat's legality.
    "I took a look at the bat, and according to the parks and recreation polices and procedures, we determined that the bat was legal," Rosenthal said. "Of course, I felt bad for the player who was hurt, and for his parents who were in attendance. ... It's terrible. We wish him a very speedy recovery."
    It wasn't a popular decision, Rosenthal said, and the rules will be examined for a potential revision, but he feels the call was a fair one.
    Currently, the rule states "Medford Parks and Recreation will require that all baseball bats meet the traditional 1.15 BPF and maximum 23/4-inch bat barrel standards. ... The Tournament Director is given latitude to make reasonable exceptions to the rule based on extenuating circumstances. Any nonstandard bats must be declared to the tournament director and the plate umpire at the pregame conference."
    The DeMarini-made bat was not declared to Rosenthal or umpires before the game, he said, but after examining manufacturer specifications for it, Rosenthal discovered that it did meet the 1.15 BPF standard, but was not stamped for it, he said.
    "One thing that would have probably made this crystal clear ... is if the rules had said that the bat had to be stamped with that number on it, but that was not the case. ... We are going to examine the bat regulations and make potential changes," Rosenthal said.
    However, he said, Medford's youth baseball tournaments are a crossroads for teams who play under several sanctioning bodies, all of which do not follow the 1.15 BPF standard.
    "To be very restrictive of the bats can be problematic for teams traveling here. ... We've tried to come up with an acceptable bat policy, while keeping safety in the front of our minds," Rosenthal said.
    Springer contends allowing any bats over the 1.15 BPF is dangerous for pitchers.
    "Does it eliminate the chance of the comebacker, no, but are there some velocity issues there, yes, that's the whole point of the rule," he said.
    Springer said he will have to wait and see if the park's department makes any rule changes before he decides whether to bring the Tualatin team back next year.
    "I've had discussions with them and I'm not going to talk to them anymore," he said. "They have their opinion and we have ours."
    Sam Wheeler is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at samuelcwheeler@gmail.com
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