A high school baseball final with 32 four-pitchers and a missing ace…is there a fix for the pitch count rule?

August 15, 2023 | by

Gunsan Sangil High School scored a dramatic walk-off hit to win the final, but the game left something to be desired.

Gunsan Sangil High School defeated Incheon High School in the final of the 57th Presidential Baseball Tournament at Mokdong Stadium in Seoul on Thursday, winning the title with an 11-10 walk-off win. It was the team’s first title in 37 years since 1986 and its fourth overall.

This is the 12th time Gunsan Sangil High School has won the national championship, and the first time in 10 years since the 2013 Bonghwang Daejeon championship. Incheon Go, which was looking to win its first title in 19 years since 2004, had to settle for its second runner-up finish since 1985.

The game was fiercely contested. Incheon scored three runs in the top of the first inning to take the lead, but Gunsan Sangil responded with a run in the bottom of the first. Incheon scored one run in the top of the third, but Gunsan Sangil scored two runs in the bottom of the third and two more in the fifth to take a 5-4 lead. Incheon tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the sixth, but Gunsan Sangil scored four runs in the bottom of the inning to regain the lead. Incheon scored one run in the top of the seventh and Gunsan Sangil scored one run in the bottom of the seventh.

Incheon scored four runs in the top of the eighth to tie the game at 10-10. However, Gunsan Sangsang Ilgo ended the long game in the bottom of the ninth inning when Park Chan-woo hit an RBI single.

The scoreline makes it seem like it was a very hard-hitting final, but it wasn’t: both teams had 25 hits on the day, and 32 fours. There were also two errors, which stretched the game to over four hours.

The reason this game was so close was because neither team had an ace available. Incheon is anchored by ace Kim Taek-yeon, who is expected to be the No. 2 overall pick in the rookie draft in September, but he was unable to pitch in the final because he threw 105 pitches in the semifinals against Gyeongbuk University on Dec. 12, allowing one run on four hits in 7⅓ innings with one walk and nine strikeouts.

안전놀이터 The same goes for Gunsan Sang-il. Jung Min-sung, who won the tournament’s MVP and Most Valuable Pitcher awards, was unable to pitch in the final because he threw 85 pitches in the semifinals against Gyeonggi Go on Dec. 12, his second appearance in a single game, allowing two runs on three hits in 4⅓ innings with three walks and four strikeouts.

The Korea Baseball Softball Association (KBSA) introduced a maximum pitch limit in 2014 and has since steadily expanded its pitch limit rules to protect pitchers. As of 2018, the maximum number of pitches per game has been capped at 105, with mandatory rest days based on the number of pitches thrown.

While the idea of protecting young pitchers is understandable, it has led to a number of situations where ace pitchers have been unable to pitch in the finals. Baseball figures who visited the baseball stadium to watch the finals on this day were also disappointed to see an abnormally high number of four-pitch games, saying, “Doesn’t it make sense not to have an ace in the finals?” To resolve this situation, measures such as relaxing the pitch count limit from the fourth round of the tournament or securing enough rest days between the semifinals and the final could be considered.

The final could have been a great game, with Gunsan Sangilgo living up to their nickname as the ‘masters of upsets’ with a stunning come-from-behind victory, but the 32 four-pitchers certainly left something to be desired.


View all

view all