BANGOR, Maine — Matt Brosious had become well-versed in the legality of a tournament-level baseball bat as the Martinez, Ga., Senior League all-stars surged to the U,S. Southeast championship.
So when the team’s manager saw something suspicious during the first inning of Friday’s Senior League World Series semifinal between the Georgians and Chitre, Herrera, Panama, he brought it to the umpires’ attention.
What resulted was the ejection from the game of the player using what was found to be a de-certified black 33-inch, 30-ounce Marucci bat, catcher Luis Alonso, as well as Panama manager Azael Dominguez Dominguez.
And while Panama went on to defeat Martinez, Ga., 5-4 in 12 innings, both Dominguez and Alonso will be ineligible to participate in Saturday afternoon’s SLWS title game against Kennett Square, Pa., as each serves a one-game suspension that comes with the ejection..
“When we played our regional tournament down in Florida, they told us specifically about four different BBCOR bats that had been de-certified by Little League, and one of them was a black Marucci 33- or 34-inch bat,” said Brosious.
“When scouting Panama we saw a bat that sort of fit that description and several of their players were using it, so we made a decision that we were going to bring it up should someone use it and sure enough they did. We weren’t sure if it was illegal, so we brought it to the umpires’ attention and sure enough it was.”
BBCOR, or Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution, is a standard that measures the loss of energy at impact of the ball hitting the barrel of the bat, and BBCOR bats have replaced aluminum models at most amateur levels in recent years as a safety measure.
Panama had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning of its game against Georgia, but when Alonso then stepped into the batter’s box with the Marucci bat, Brosious approached home plate umpire Doug Pfaffenberger.
After a lengthy discussion involving umpires, tournament officials and the team managers, it was determined that the bat brought to the plate by Alonso was not on the list of bats approved for use by Little League Baseball.
“The bat is on the Little League de-certification list,” said SLWS umpire in chief Chris Parker.. “When it was brought to the tournament committee’s attention we checked it. Right away we pulled it up on the website and it said the Marucci black 33-(inch), 30-ounce bat is an illegal bat and was de-certified back in December 2012.”
Panama coach Jose Luis Cedeno said the team purchased the bat locally earlier in the week and added that the coaching staff was told by umpires that it was legal.
“We bought the bat here at the Bangor Mall, and the coaches brought the brand new bat to the umpires so they could verify that we could use the bat, that it’s fine, it’s good,” said Cedeno through an interpreter, Veronica Mendez.
“All of them as a group said it was OK.”
But Parker indicated that the illegal bat wasn’t part of Friday’s pre-game inspection of the team’s bats conducted by the game umpires.
“During my post-game interview with the umpires they said they checked five bats and that bat wasn’t there when the game started,” he said.
And even if the bat in question was inspected before the semifinal, it would not have been checked for it’s legality, said SLWS tournament director Mike Brooker.
“The umpires check the bats for drop ratio to make sure they’re minus-three bats (no more than three inches lighter than they are in length) and they check the bats for structural integrity — no cracks, no dents,” said Brooker, who added that the Panamanian team had another bat taken out of play during the first day of the SLWS because it was a minus-five.
“They do not check a bat to see if it’s illegal or not. There are over 500 bats on the approved list, and it’s the manager’s responsibility to know if a bat is legal or illegal.”
Brosious said he understood that it was up to an opposing manager to challenge the legality of any bat being used in a game.
“One of the things we found out down in Florida in our Southeast regional tournament was that with the umpires even if a bat gets past their inspection it doesn’t necessarily make it legal,” he said. “Because if it’s one of those on the black list that’s been de-certified, even if it slips past the umpire and you bring it to their attention it can be checked and thrown out, that’s what my understanding of the rule is.
“Down in Florida it was a point of emphasis.”
The Panamanian squad later challenged a bat used by Georgia’s Luke Wiles after he singled to lead off the top of the fifth inning of the semifinal, but after a quick check that bat was ruled to be legal.