PIAA: Belle Vernon baseball can play, but more sanctions added
Belle Vernon Area will be permitted to play in the upcoming WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
But the decision by the PIAA comes with a price.
BVA Principal Greg Zborovancik said he received a letter from the PIAA at approximately 11:30 a.m. Wednesday saying the Leps (11-8) can participate in the playoffs, despite violating a sanction imposed on the program as a result of an incident that took place a year ago.
“The kids are playing in the playoffs, and I'm happy about that,” said Zborovancik. “But the PIAA added more sanctions against us.”
Zborovancik did not elaborate on the sanctions, other than saying the probation against BVA was extended one more year.
The program had been on probation for this season and next.
PIAA spokesperson Melissa Mertz noted the additional sanctions included extending the probation to run through 2015, and the school must implement a sportsmanship program for players and coaches prior to the start of the season.
Zborovancik said head coach Dan Palm, currently serving a three-game suspension issued by the district, will coach the team in the playoffs. His suspension ends after today's non-section game against Hempfield.
Zborovancik said assistant coach Ryan Shetterly, ejected from Monday's game at Elizabeth Forward, will not be coaching in the playoffs. Shetterly was ejected after leaving the third base coaching box to question a call at first base in the third inning.
Palm said he was happy and relieved that his team can have a chance to repeat last year's playoff run in which the Leps reached the WPIAL Class AAA championship game.
“I'm thrilled for the kids because they didn't do anything wrong,” Palm said. “They deserve to play. They earned making the playoffs and it's their time of the year.”
Palm said Shetterly is crestfallen over the situation, saying he never intended to get thrown out and certainly would never jeopardize the team's chances to play in the postseason.
Palm is hoping to put the situation behind him, saying, “I'd like to just like to move on and get back to just coaching and playing baseball.”
The WPIAL will release baseball and softball playoff pairings Friday.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.