By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD – Effingham County baseball coach Shane Ramsey will be suspended for the first two games of the best-of-three series against North Atlanta in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state tournament and the Rebels forfeited their Thursday win against Brunswick for using an illegal player.
On Sunday, Ramsey said his assistant coaches would take over his head coaching duties for Wednesday’s doubleheader at North Atlanta. Ramsey can return to his head coaching position for Game 3 of the series, if necessary, or the next playoff series.
ECHS violated a Georgia High School Association rule when it used pitcher Griffin Howe in relief in the seventh inning against Brunswick. Howe was the starter in Monday’s game against the Pirates and threw 96 pitches.
Since his pitch count was between 85-110, Howe was required to have three days rest.
Howe threw just nine pitches to retire Brunswick one-two-three in the seventh.
Ramsey said he was caught looking at the pitch count.
ECHS eventually won the game 4-3 in nine innings, but Brunswick was credited with a 10-0 forfeit.
“That’s on me. I’ve never done anything like that in my 17 years of coaching and I would never do anything to hurt our pitchers’ arms,” Ramsey said.
ECHS and Brunswick moved up their regularly scheduled Friday game to Thursday to accommodate the Rebels, who had their prom on Saturday.
Had the game been played Friday, under the same circumstances, Howe would have been eligible to start and throw 110 pitches.
ECHS’ forfeit loss had no bearing on the Region 2-AAAAAA playoff seeding. The Rebels (14-16, 11-7) finished as the region’s No. 3 seed entering the state tournament.
“I regret what happened, but I think our kids will remain focused,” Ramsey said. “Will it change the mindset of what we have to do? No sir.”
North Atlanta (18-11, 13-5 Region 4-AAAAAA) enters the state tournament on a six-game winning streak, outscoring its opponents 87-13 during that span.
The Warriors’ 289 runs during the regular season were the most scored in the region. Junior shortstop Antonio Anderson leads the way with a .462 batting average.
“We’re expecting a quality opponent,” Ramsey said. “Once you get in the tournament, everyone is good. It’s how you handle the moment.”