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Baseball Forfeit Sacrifices Perfect VOL Run
The Oakdale High senior class has put up a tremendous four-year run in Valley Oak League action. Back row from left, Justin Jones, Logan Bruce, Steven Gratigny. Front row from left, Vince Helms, Edward McGrath, John Shatswell and Dante Major. - photo by JAGADA CHAMBERS/THE LEADER
The last hurdle is always the most difficult to clear and that proved to be true for the Oakdale High varsity baseball program. The squad’s hope of completing a perfect Valley Oak League season came to an abrupt halt when the team took a forfeit loss against Sonora in the season finale for using an ineligible player over the game’s final inning.
Oakdale had a cruise control 10-2 victory in hand, but when a player from the junior varsity squad was beckoned over to the varsity stadium to close out the victory, the Mustangs lost grip on their undefeated season.
“Sonora called me and said that Oakdale used a player that previously played (that same day) in the sophomore game,” VOL Commissioner Norm Antinetti said. “And brought the player up and played him in the varsity game. That’s a violation, so I checked with Oakdale and sure enough they did that.
“That was really cut and dry, so Sonora asked for a ruling on it.”
The CIF ruling states that a player can only participate in one level of competition in the same day. As painful as squandering its second perfect VOL season in three years was, the decision to give the sophomore his varsity debut proved much more costly to the Sierra High Timberwolves.
Sierra, which would have earned a Sac-Joaquin Section postseason berth with an Oakdale win over Sonora by virtue of holding the tie-breaker in runs scored even though they were tied in the standings with the Wildcats, instead were stripped of their postseason berth as the forfeit victory handed Sonora the win and punched their ticket to the playoffs.
“The league has made their decision,” Oakdale head coach Hondo Arpoika said. “And now we have to accept it.”
The decision to allow the player to participate in both contests, the coach added, was justified by an interpretation of the rule according to the National Federation of State High Schools (NFHS) rules/case book due to the way the lineup card was made out.
The expulsion of Sierra High from postseason play sent ripple effects throughout the VOL, setting in motion a string of events that would eventually land the Oakdale High varsity softball team the 2009 VOL Championship when an appeal was filed on the girls’ side of the ball diamond. (See varsity softball story.)
Antinetti, then, was left to decide the fate of over seven different programs in just two decisions.
“It’s been quite interesting this week,” Antinetti said. “It’s one of those deals where you wish you weren’t the messenger.”
The Mustangs did everything they needed to do on the diamond, taking down the Wildcats in Sonora 7-4 earlier in the week and following up the win with the 10-4 shellacking that was ultimately revoked.
Oakdale will have to put the recent developments on the shelf as the squad embarks on its quest for a third consecutive Division IV Section title. The Mustangs will open postseason play against the Whitney Wildcats on Thursday, May 14 at Dan McAuliffe Memorial Park in Sacramento.
Whitney hits the tournament after winning five of their last six contests, giving Oakdale a stiff challenge from the Pioneer Valley League’s No. 3 squad.
A victory over the Wildcats would usher Oakdale into a two games out of three semifinal series against the winner of the Foothill - Placer High first round contest. Foothill High is the No.1 seed out of the Capital Valley Conference in Sacramento.
If the Mustangs advance, semifinal action will get under way Saturday, May 16 at 3 p.m. with game two coming May 20 at McAuliffe Park at 4 p.m.