Debunking the myth of the magical 100-pitch count

gibbs    I am under no delusion that I have been ordained as a bona fide authority who possesses the inalienable right to determine what’s right or wrong. And I find it a discredit to my profession when members of the media use an isolated event as a soapbox to expound their pseudo virtues as the guardian of good and evil to the public, which knows no better.
    One classic high school baseball game played on April 13, has drawn the ire of  the sports media from the television giant  ESPN to the bottom-feeding publications and others in between.
    Two outstanding pitching performances by seniors Emerson Gibbs of Jesuit and Mitch Sewald of Archbishop Rummel lasted 18 innings before Jesuit decided the issue in the bottom of that inning by winning 2-1.
    With two remarkable efforts the two aces combined to pitch 25 innings after throwing 347 pitches (Gibbs 193 pitches in 15 innings and Sewald 154 in 10).
    When the word spread that the head coaches allowed the two teenagers to throw past the mythical and magical 100-pitch count, the critics surfaced like U-Boats eager to zero in on their quarry.
    Some media pointed out that the pitch count did not include warm-up tosses before the game and between each inning.

sewald    Sewald was signed by LSU and Gibbs by Tulane because they are two exceptional hurlers who are expected to be effective in whatever roles they play at the major college level. So the question  arose: What is in the best long-term interest of the player and the health of his arm?
    It was written that in their zeal to win the game, the two head coaches allowed their two stars to throw far more than 100 pitches, a mortal sin in baseball terms.
    That game, one of the greatest played by two local high school teams, was an anomaly. But let’s put the situation in perspective: The average number of pitches typically thrown in an inning is 20 to 25. Gibbs averaged 12.9 and Sewald 15.4.
    Sewald allowed just one run with two hits, walked four batters and struck out 10 batters.
    Gibbs, allowed one run on six hits, had 13 Ks and walked just one.
    The facts are these:
    ➤ There have been numerous pitchers to go past the magical 100 count over the years. Former Rummel and Tulane hurler Bill Kampen said he threw 125 to 140 pitches on several occasions at both schools.
    The Jesuit game was just the sixth start for Sewald, who has pitched a perfect game and also went 10 scoreless innings against Jesuit in an earlier encounter. His latest stats show 41 innings pitched and an earned run average of 1.02 to go with his 3-1 record.
    ➤ Both coaches Joe Latino of Jesuit and Rummel’s Nick Monica consulted with their pitchers before allowing them to work more than seven innings. Gibbs reported the next day that the only discomfort he felt was in his right triceps and leg, which are the two muscles that are typically sore following a game. Sewald reported no soreness whatsoever.
    ➤ Gibbs and Sewald pitch with the proper throwing mechanics, necessary to avoid putting stress on the joints and ligaments in the arm.
    ➤ The administrations and athletic directors of the two schools support their coaches’ and players’ decisions.
    ➤ None of the parents of the two pitchers complained to the schools about the use of their sons.
    ➤ Neither Tulane head coach Rick Jones nor his LSU counterpart Paul Mainieri has stated an objection. As a matter of fact, the two high school coaches said Jones and Mainieri have not spoken to them at all.
    Gibbs was on the mound again on April 22 in the Blue Jays’ District 9-5A game against a very good Grace King team. He pitched a full seven innings (83 pitches), allowed four hits and struck four batters out.
    And for the edification of the naysayers, his arm didn’t fall off.
    Sewald was scheduled to pitch in this week’s district finale against Brother Martin.
    With the playoffs approaching, it’s nice to know that both pitchers are in it for the long haul.
    Ron Brocato can be reached at rbrocato@clarionherald.org.

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