Sports

The quality of WIAA’s mercy is not strained

A colleague was engaged in an intense debate with an official from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

The reporter didn’t have immediate access to players and coaches following Bellevue’s 39-20 win in the 2004 Emerald City Kickoff Classic that ended the record 151-game win streak by California’s De La Salle High School.

“It’s not about you; it’s about the kids,” was the official’s response.

Saturday’s baseball game between Bothell and South Kitsap lacked the historical implications of that football game, but the WIAA’s membership would do well to heed its own advice.

Because what happened at Kent Memorial certainly wasn’t about the kids.

After months of preparation, the Wolves fell victim to a more talented team.

That’s the way it usually plays out in sports, but at least there’s a 10-run rule that helps keep games for getting too far out of control.

South’s fastpitch team took advantage of that a day earlier in the West Central District Tournament when Rogers scored five runs in the sixth inning to take a 13-3 lead to end the game.

But at the state level, it wasn’t enough that the Cougars led 20-2 entering the bottom of the fifth inning.

It didn’t matter that the Wolves’ pitching staff, with a No. 1 starter who doesn’t throw much harder than 75 mph, encountered a lineup that wasn’t fooled by breaking balls outside the strike zone and pounded everything that ventured back over the plate.

If it truly is about the kids, why play two more innings of a game that already had been decided? Why does Mike O’Brien, who moved back to Port Orchard from Hawaii so he could play baseball with his friends one last time, need this?

How about Adam Douty, who played this year despite being a father, and became the Wolves’ No. 1 starter after not even making varsity as a junior. What did he do to deserve this?

Or catcher Todd Dalrymple, who persevered through limited playing time and didn’t start until Shawn Stayton was injured.

Then there’s varsity mainstay and leadoff hitter Tyler Sartor, the player who moved from second base to shortstop to get another good hitter in the lineup.

These seniors deserved better from the adults who make the rules.

Coaches like to remind everyone that state is a reward for their athletes.

In this case, the enduring memory for the aforementioned seniors is a 23-2 loss — the worst in 46 state-tournament games for South.

Where exactly is the prize in this?

The only explanation for a rule change for state-level games is to protect the integrity of the game. After all, there’s a minuscule chance a team might overcome a 10-run deficit in the final innings to win.

Of course, it works the other way as well. The Cougars, who won their first state game in school history last year, just were looking to advance in the playoffs.

That meant doing whatever was possible not to further embarrass the Wolves in the final inning by substituting liberally and trying to take an extra base in hopes of getting thrown out.

Doesn’t exactly sound like baseball the way it was meant to be played.

And if the WIAA and the coaches who impose these rules are so concerned about the game’s spirit, why does it still allow a courtesy runner in the playoffs?

Does a 16-year-old boy have trouble getting around the bases?

That would be pretty embarrassing.

Sort of like allowing a team to be humiliated.

Sports editor Chris Chancellor c an be reached

at 876-4414, or by e-mail at

sports@portorchardindependent.com.

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