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Arroyo Seco Saints batty over first World Series setback

Baseball: Arroyo Seco falls to Chines Taipei, 17-8, in opener marred by disputes over illegal equipment.

August 02, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • Arroyo Seco's Sergio Plasencia, right, catches the ball at first base during the Palomino League World Series first-round game.
Arroyo Seco's Sergio Plasencia, right, catches… (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

COMPTON — After two jarring innings, the Arroyo Seco Saints found out that once the damage was done, the bell could not be unrung.

Actually, the ring was more like a ping, as the size of the aluminum bats wielded by Chinese Taipei took center stage as the hot topic of the Saints' 17-8 opening-round loss on Thursday in the 2012 Palomino League World Series at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton.

A rules violation detected only after the completion of the first two innings and a lingering dispute over the semantics of the rule book that still wasn't settled even after the game's conclusion combined to leave a bitter taste in the Saints' mouths, as they never recovered from the early 7-0 deficit and suffered their first loss in 15 games.

"It blows my mind, we scored [eight] runs, you should be able to win a baseball game with [eight] runs," said Arroyo Seco Coach Aaron Milam, whose team includes players from Crescenta Valley High, St. Francis and Glendale Community College. "[Chinese Taipei had] check swings that were just going forever."

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Arroyo Seco, which trailed, 12-0, after three innings, could never rein in Chinese Taipei's offense, even as the Saints mounted a four-run rally of their own in the bottom of the third and scored three in the sixth before leaving the bases loaded. They will now play Puerto Rico at 4:30 p.m. today in a loser's bracket game of the double-elimination tournament.

The controversy came down to two aspects of the Pony Baseball rules; the requirement that the circumference of the bat head be no greater than 2 5/8 inches, which all parties seemed to be in agreement on, and the requirement of bats to meet Ball-Bat Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) testing protocol, which was worded more ambiguously.

At the start of the third inning, the Saints lodged a protest that Chinese Taipei had used an illegal bat. Chinese Taipei was found to be in possession of three bats that were greater than 2 5/8 inches in circumference, prompting the confiscation of the bats and the suspension of Chinese Taipei Coach Lee Kuo Chiang for the remainder of the contest, as well as for today's second-round game. But despite the vociferous protests of Milam, there was no undoing the seven-run deficit, as per Pony rules.

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