Schley County baseball state playoff doubleheader postponed due to legal injunction

Published 1:42 pm Friday, May 4, 2018

By Staff Reports

ELLAVILLE – The Schley County baseball team was scheduled to square off with Pelham in a best-of-two series in the second round of the GHSA Class A-Public State Playoffs on Thursday, May 3, with the first game beginning at 4:30 p.m. Schley County got a first-round bye due to the fact that they won their region championship.

However, the GHSA suspended all second-round Class A-Public playoff series were suspended on Thursday, May 3 and Friday, May 4, because of a legal injunction placed on the GHSA on Wednesday, May 2. The injunction was filed by the Charlton County baseball team. The Charlton County Superior Court in Folkston granted the injunction. The GHSA is appealing the injunction. According to Ernie Yarbrough, assistant director of the GHSA, it is hoped that Schley County’s second-round playoff doubleheader with Pelham, along with the rest of the Class A-Public state playoffs, will resume on Monday and Tuesday, May 7-8, but they are waiting on the ruling from the court on the injunction.

Here is how Schley County, along with the rest of the Class A-Public baseball teams involved in the state playoffs, got to this point. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the GHSA forced Charlton County’s baseball team to forfeit their game against Lanier County, which took place on March 10. During that game, Charlton County admittedly violated the GHSA’s pitch-count policy by allowing a pitcher to throw more than 110 pitches over two days.

According to the AJC, Charlton County, citing email evidence, argued that the GHSA originally issued only a warning for the violation. However, Charlton County argued that the GHSA reversed their decision on the warning last week, a month after the game was played. Charlton argued that the GHSA declared the game to be a forfeit without allowing Charlton County the chance to argue its case.

The forfeited game cost Charlton County the region championship and a higher seed in the state playoffs.

According to the AJC, Charlton County is currently assigned as the No. 5 seed in the 24-team bracket. As a result, the Indians face the possibility of six-hour road trips to Bowdon and to Chicamauga in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

As a result of the GHSA’s decision, the region title and the No. 2 seed went to Irwin County, The region champion, along with being the No. 2 seed, would have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs until they reached the championship game, which is played at a neutral site. This set the controversy in motion, as Charlton County appealed to the GHSA last week to level the forfeit.

According to the AJC, the judge’s conclusion was this: “If this court does not grant an interlocutory injunction, Charlton County would suffer an irreparable injury by facing the possibility of multiple road series during the playoffs at great financial expense.”

The bylaws of the GHSA call for a forfeit, a fine and a two-game sit-out penalty to the head coach of the violating team. However, according to the injunction report, GHSA executive director Dr. Robin Hines acknowledged at a hearing this week that the GHSA has the authority to issue warnings instead, if circumstances warrant.

The GHSA seeds the Class A brackets with a point system. The system ranks teams based on a formula that considers the wins and losses of all teams and their opponents. Schools had until Monday, April 23, to appeal their power rating. It was then that Irwin County made an issue of Charlton’s pitching count violation.

According to the AJC, it was the conclusion of the court that Irwin County didn’t file its complaint of the pitch-count infraction within the required seven days of the violation. The court also concluded that GHSA executive director Hines and not the GHSA’s appeals board, made the final ruling, which is against procedure. In addition to that, the court also said that the executive director didn’t notify Charlton County of Irwin County’s appeal in a timely way that would allow a counter-appeal.

According to the AJC, Charlton defeated Lanier County 6-3 in real time. If Charlton County gets credit for winning that game, both Charlton and Irwin would each have 12-2 records in region play. Charlton would be the region champion because they swept Irwin in the two games they played during the regular season.

According to the AJC, the GHSA argued its case in court on Tuesday, May 1, and released this statement: “While we hope to have this matter resolved quickly, we do not anticipate it being finalized in time to start the series on the scheduled date of Thursday, May 3. All other second-round series are to proceed as scheduled. We will notify all participating schools and game officials as soon as we are notified by the court. We apologize for any inconvenience this may create.”

According to the AJC, another South Georgia team, Clinch County, was on their way to Chicamauga to play Gordon Lee when they were given the word that their game was postponed.





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