The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association will not review game footage to verify the number of pitches thrown by Powell ace Charlie Smith in a regional semifinal game despite the possibility he may have subsequently pitched in a sectional game one day prior to what pitch-count rules allow.
As reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel, after the Region 2-4A semifinal victory over Beardon on May 16, Bearden coach Dave Prichard and Powell coach Josh Warner each signed off on an official form that certified Smith threw 105 pitches over seven innings. TSSAA pitch-count rules state that a pitcher must have three days rest if they throw 76-105 pitches, but four days rest for 106-120 pitches.
Smith went on to pitch three days later in the sectional round against Science Hill, which Powell won 4-3 to advance to the Class 4A state tournament.
After reviewing game footage, Prichard said he counted Smith throwing 110 pitches against Bearden, and he realized he unintentionally signed off on an incorrect pitch count. Bearden's stats are kept by a parent outside of the dugout, and Prichard said he did not communicate with that person prior to signing the official form.
Powell's athletic director Chad Smith and Warner did not respond to a News Sentinel email request for comment.
Meanwhile, Beardon's athletic director Donald Balcom explained why the TSSAA says it won't review the video.
"TSSAA was unwilling to watch the entire GameChanger film, and what I was told was is because it can be inaccurate...I've also been told it can be manipulated, but in all honesty, the only way you can manipulate that film is if you take pitches away, not add them," Balcom said. "We don't have anything against anybody involved in this — Powell beat us fair and square. It didn't change the outcome, but what happened after the game was an ethical issue within the rules of the sport."
Under the TSSAA's pitch count policy, "it is strongly recommended that coaches check with the opposing team between each half inning to make sure both teams agree to and record the same pitch count." Prichard said he was not keeping track of pitches during the seventh inning, and because he was upset by the season-ending loss, he did not take the time to check the count.
"I knew that 105 was a feasible number when they brought it over, and our season was over, and I just signed it and carried on and dealt with my players," Prichard said. "We were bummed out, so I didn't look at anything that evening, and then the next day when I was finalizing some stuff, I noticed that we had it down for 110."
TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said the high school association rules are clear that the form represents an official pitch count unless an official appeal is filed or the home team self-reports an incorrect count. Powell, which was the home team, has not reported the count as incorrect, and Childress said Bearden declined to file an official appeal, the News Sentinel reported.
Prichard said he emailed game footage to the TSSAA to inform them that the count was incorrect, but Childress said that without an official appeal, the TSSAA does not have the authority or manpower to review hours of game footage and count every pitch thrown.
"We've got to depend on the integrity of the coaches to do this right, and they both signed off on the form," Childress said. "We don't have the staff to go back and sit there because if you do it now, you've got to do it during regular-season games.
"Can you imagine the number of games that people will say, 'You know, we lost the game and I signed that form, but we're gonna send the film to you and let the TSSAA count the pitches'? They both agreed, so that's where we're at."
Childress said there is no penalty for the coaches involved, even if they did sign off on an incorrect pitch count.