Hours after Valencia baseball picked up a last-minute win over Oaks Christian on Wednesday afternoon, the Vikings received word that they may have to forfeit the CIF Southern Section Division 1 wild-card win.
Video surfaced on Twitter of what appeared to be Valencia players participating in pre-game batting practice, which is forbidden by Southern Section rules: “Teams entered in the baseball playoffs will not be permitted to take batting practice on the day of a playoff game prior to the commencement of the contest. Batting practice will be construed as ANY type of pitching motion with ANY type of ball from in front of the batter (including pitching machines and overhand throwing).”
With the consultation and support of the CIF Southern Section Baseball Coaches Advisory Committee, the rules are as follows “THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE BATTING WARMUP WILL BE SIDE SOFT TOSS, BATTING TEE WORK OR PEPPER.”
Valencia coach Mike Killinger told The Signal that his players are well aware of the rule and were warming up before the game using the side soft toss method.
“The rule says you have to throw with an underhand or lifting motion from the side,” Killinger said. “So I told all of our kids that that was the rule and everyone did it at an angle because they figured at an angle was from the side … our kids thought they were doing the right thing.”
An Oaks Christian coach showed Killinger the video prior to the start of the game during the umpire meeting, but the game continued as planned.
Oaks Christian has the opportunity to file a protest with the CIF Southern Section and if Valencia is found guilty of the rule violation, they will be forced to forfeit their 4-3 wild card win over the Lions.
“At this time we have received no formal protest from Oaks Christian,” CIF Southern Section Asst. Commissioner Thom Simmons told The Signal.
The Vikings earned a spot in the playoffs after finishing third in the Foothill League and will play Harvard Westlake on Friday if their season continues.
Killinger said he has been in contact with his players since the accusation occurred.
“I just talked to a few of the kids (and told them to) be ready to play on Friday and until someone tells us anything different, be ready to practice,” he said. “I just hope for our seniors’ sake that something as small as this doesn’t take away their possibility at another playoff game.”