By Michael Rand
Saturday was a huge day for Warroad pitcher Lars Anderson (pictured). Not only did he throw a complete game in the playoffs against Thief River Falls, but he also hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 13th to win the game for his team.
Where it gets perhaps a little dicey, though, is what it took for him — and opposing pitcher Cody Conners — to keep their teams in the game. According to a scorebook kept on site, Anderson threw 201 pitches in those 13 innings. Conners, who pitched 11 innings, needed 204 pitches to get through his time on the hill. Those numbers would make a more than a few people do a double-take. They might cause Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson to faint in his Cheerios. Our guy Brian Stensaas wrote the story and talked to both the Warroad pitcher and his coach.
“I talked to him every inning and his arm was fine,” Warroad coach Scott Knutson said. “In a regular-season game, you’d never let your pitcher throw 13 innings, obviously. But the loser [of Saturday's game] goes home, so he just kept on throwing.”
Anderson also sounded no worse for the wear, and we will say this: back in our day, we paid absolutely no attention to pitch count. We remember there being a limit on how much we could throw in a span of days (in the case of this story, pitchers can’t throw more than 14 innings over a three-day span). We recall throwing seven innings one day and then coming back with five innings the very next day when we were maybe 16. Our arm was tired afterward, but we got over it. Who knows how many pitches we threw.
That said, with all the emphasis put on pitch counts at higher levels, should there have been more thought given to the arms of the two young hurlers going in that playoff game? Or was it just a good, old-fashioned duel that should be treated as an extraordinary and acceptable exception? If you were pitching, would you care how many pitches you had thrown? What if it was a son or daughter?
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