What seemed to be a normal American Legion South Sectional tournament game Wednesday afternoon took an odd turn as Cheshire took the field for the top of the eighth inning at Cheshire High.
With Zone 3 champion Cheshire leading Trumbull, 8-2, the Trumbull coaching staff approached the umpires and informed them that Cheshire had an ineligible player who attended the Quinnipiac Summer Showcase earlier in the day at Quinnipiac University in Hamden.
According to national American Legion rules, players cannot participate in any other baseball activity besides Legion baseball during the postseason.
Zone 3 chairman Dana Murphy confirmed Wednesday night that that the ineligible player is Adam Von Fischer, who was in the Cheshire lineup as the designated hitter. He is ineligible for the remainder of the postseason.
Cheshire coach Bill Robertson wouldn’t confirm the identity of the player, but he was adamant that he didn’t know that one of his players had attended the Quinnipiac camp.
“Of course, I didn’t know about it,” Robertson said. “They called me over and they had the lineup cards out and said there was an illegal player. I thought they were telling me they had an illegal player. They said no, it’s yours.”
Murphy was in attendance as the site director at Cheshire High. He was called down from the stands in the top of the eighth inning and was approached by the Trumbull coaching staff, informing him there was an ineligible player.
“By hook or by crook, they are down 8-2 in the eighth inning and they have that ace up their sleeve,” Murphy said. “They had the roster from the showcase at Quinnipiac. He had the set of rules which he had me read, so he had everything in play.”
Murphy added he was at least glad Trumbull didn’t wait until after the game ended.
“I didn’t grasp it right away,” Murphy said. ‘It’s dirty pool, but they are actually right. The kids are all warned prior to the season that any extra activity at the close of the season would make them ineligible.”
Murphy said that clock starts at the end of the regular season, so a player could participate during the Legion season, but not during the postseason. Just because Cheshire hadn’t played a state tournament game until Wednesday afternoon doesn’t matter.
“Maybe he just forgot (he couldn’t go), but that’s not really an excuse,” Murphy said. “They had the roster of players from the camp and he was on it.”
In a story by Ken Lipshez of the Record-Journal, Trumbull Legion coach Brett Conner, who is also the pitching coach at Quinnipiac University, had the player list from the first day of the two-day Summer Showcase with him.
Trumbull assistant coach Mark Windsor told the Record-Journal that they did not want to ask for the forfeit, but were pressured by superiors, including Trumbull general manager Anthony Vinci.
“The rules are the rules and we’re trying to understand everything that happened,” Vinci said when contacted by GameTimeCT Wednesday night. “Apparently, the rules were broken.”
Robertson was angry that Trumbull waited seven innings as he used his ace pitcher Kyle Waldron and won’t have him for Games 2 and 3.
“I’m comfortable when I go to bed at night with my honesty and integrity,” Robertson said. “They wanted my guy to pitch seven innings. They had already played two games (Sunday and Monday) and pitched their No. 1 pitcher.
“Now, we have to win two games tomorrow,” Robertson said. “But it’s disappointing the way others conduct their business. My honesty and integrity is beyond reproach.”