MIDDLEBURY — The job for the Northridge High School baseball team got a little tougher on Tuesday, as ace pitcher Davis Enfield and head coach Andrew Brabender were suspended for the Raiders' game against Mishawaka in the Class 4A LaPorte Regional on Saturday.
According to Indiana High School Athletic Association president Bobby Cox, Enfield and Brabender will be suspended for the first game of the regional, but if the Raiders beat Mishawaka, both are eligible to return for the title game later that day.
The suspension comes from a state-mandated pitch limit, which Enfield exceeded against Penn in the sectional title game on Monday.
According to the IHSAA, no pitcher can throw 120 pitches or more in a calendar day and only more if a pitcher has thrown less than that before starting a new batter. On Saturday, Enfield had thrown 122 pitches and had two outs in the seventh inning. When he threw the first pitch to Penn's C.J. Kavadas, Penn coach Greg Dikos stopped the game and talked to the umpires about the pitch count.
Enfield was then pulled from the game and reliever Cam Knepp recorded the last out to give Northridge its first sectional title since 2015.
Brabender told our Bob Oppenheim after the game that he was "completely confused'' by the pitch count issue.
"I thought 120-plus meant he could pitch more,'' Brabender said. "It's my fault. That wasn't my interpretation of the rule.''
Enfield was brilliant on the mound, allowing just two hits and striking out 12 Kingsmen in the victory.
Dikos said Monday he would talk to his athletic director and administration on what the school's next move might be.
But on Tuesday, Penn athletic director Jeff Hart said the school will not ask the IHSAA for a forfeit or pursue the violation further.
"We support the IHSAA's decision in this matter,'' Hart said. " We congratulate Northridge on an outstanding win yesterday and wish them the best as they advance to the regionals this weekend.''
Knepp, now the likely starter against Mishawaka, pitched against the Cavemen on May 18 and picked up the win in a 5-3 Raider victory.
Last spring, the IHSAA suspended Indianapolis Scecina pitcher Mac Ayres for the Class 2A semi-state game against Southridge after he threw 124 pitches in Scecina's two regional wins against Union City and South Vermillion.
At that time, South Vermillion protested the game and asked for a forfeit, saying Scecina won the game by using a player that was ineligible because of the pitch count.
But according to Cox – backed up by IHSAA bylaws – while a game will be forfeited during the regular season for a pitcher going over 120 pitches, that rule does not count in the tournament, with the exception of the state title game. This bylaw applies in football, baseball, basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball.
Northridge High School athletic director Dave Harms reported the rules violation to the IHSAA immediately following the game on Monday, which led to Cox's ruling on Tuesday.
The school said they will not be comment further on the matter.
The Raiders will play at approximately 1:30 p.m. (EST) at LaPorte on Saturday. The first game between Crown Point and Lake Central begins at 11 a.m.