PIAA baseball: Carrick, Mercyhurst Prep drop out of playoffs

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Two Western Pennsylvania high school baseball teams that qualified for the PIAA playoffs will not participate in the tournament for different reasons.

Carrick, which qualified to represent the City League in Class AAA, pulled out because many of the team's players did not want to continue playing after the City League season.

Coach Dave Aromatorio said he could not field a team because he had only 10 players on the roster and most did not want to participate in the PIAA playoffs.

Meanwhile, Mercyhurst Prep would have been in the PIAA Class A playoffs as the District 10 champion, but it has to forfeit the title because it used postgraduate players to pitch batting practice to current players, which is against PIAA rules.

The forfeiture knocked Mercyhurst Prep out of the PIAA tournament.

West Middlesex, which lost to Mercyhurst Prep in the District 10 championship, takes Mercyhurst Prep's spot in the PIAA playoffs, which begin Monday around the state.

Carrick's decision was the final chapter in a rough season for Aromatorio, who used to have one of the City League's best baseball programs. Under his direction, Carrick was a perennial City League championship contender and the Raiders were competitive against WPIAL teams in the PIAA playoffs.

In 2000, Carrick reached the PIAA semifinals.

But Carrick's program has fallen in recent years. The Raiders finished 7-12 this season and were clobbered by the City League's top two teams -- Brashear and Allderdice. Carrick lost to Allderdice, 10-0, in five innings in the City League semifinals.

"This is beyond frustrating," Aromatorio said.

"When we had those teams in the early 2000s, we could compete with just about anybody around. To see what it has become now?

"The school probably isn't half the size as it was back then, but I just don't know what it is with the kids anymore. If I knew that answer, I guess I could make some money."

Carrick and the rest of the City League teams will join the WPIAL for baseball next season.

"It wasn't like we cut anybody who came out for the team this year," Aromatorio said. "One kid flunked off and one kid quit. It's just really hard to see. ... I know we're joining the WPIAL for baseball next year, and that should be real interesting to see."

The PIAA changed its bracket when Carrick pulled out. The Raiders were supposed to play the No. 2 team from the WPIAL (Belle Vernon), and the WPIAL No. 1 team (Blackhawk) was supposed to play the District 9 champion.

But WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said he and the PIAA didn't think it would be fair to give Belle Vernon a bye as a second-place team. So, Blackhawk received a first-round bye and Belle Vernon will play the District 9 champ.

As for Mercyhurst Prep, the team used former players to pitch batting practice before the District 10 semifinal against Conneaut Lake, which Mercyhurst Prep won, 10-4.

The PIAA instituted a rule a few years ago that said postgraduates are prohibited from playing or practicing with a team, unless they are coaches or volunteer coaches who have been approved by the principal to be a coach.

The rule was instituted in '07 after Dunmore High School used a quarterback from Wilkes College in practice to emulate Jeannette's Terrelle Pryor. Dunmore played Jeannette in the PIAA football final that year.

Two WPIAL teams -- Pine-Richland and Neshannock -- also violated the "postgraduate rule" a few years ago, allowing former players to pitch batting practice. But neither school forfeited games, and both were allowed to participate in the PIAA playoffs.

Pine-Richland was the Class AAA champ that season and Neshannock the Class A runner-up. But the WPIAL waited until after the season concluded to hand out penalties.

Both teams were limited to one scrimmage the following season instead of two, and the WPIAL also publicly censored the coaches, athletic directors and principals from both schools.


For more on high school sports, go to Varsity Blog at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh. First Published June 2, 2012 12:00 AM


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