Mike Carp delivers one of the most bizarre high school baseball tournament stories, ever

Rob Bradford
May 25, 2013 - 11:39 am
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With the state high school playoffs upon us, and Mike Carp serving as one of the Red Sox'€™ heroes Friday night, it'€™s a good time to surface one of the most bizarre state tournament stories you'€™ll come across '€¦ The year was 2003 and Carp'€™s Lakewood (CA) High baseball team had rebounded from a 2-3 start to win 23 of its next 25 to claim a No. 1 seed into the postseason. The year before, the Lancers had reached the California state finals at Angels Stadium, only to lose to Delmon Young'€™s Rio Mesa High club. Lakewood was slated to take on Valley View High, which boasted a pitcher/shortstop by the name of Steven Wright (who now pitches for Triple-A Pawtucket). Before the quarterfinal tilt, Carp and his teammates were playing Pepper (one batter hits with a fungo about with soft tosses coming from teammates 10-15 feet away). A few hours later, Lakewood had claimed a 4-2 win and was already thinking about their semifinal game. Then, upon arriving at school the next day, Carp and the rest of the Lancers discovered their season was over '€¦ because of that game of Pepper. '€œBefore the game we'€™re playing Pepper like any other game I had in high school,'€ the Red Sox outfielder/first baseman said. '€œI guess their coach wasn'€™t happy about it, came up to our coach and said we weren'€™t allowed to do that. Our coach told him we had done it forever and we were going to keep doing it. '€œWe didn'€™t know, but they played the game under protest. We beat them fair and square, 4-2. We show up to school the next day to find out they disqualified us. We thought they were going to the semifinals. It was a debacle for four days. We were trying to halt the game trying to get back in there, but they wouldn'€™t overturn it. Season over for us. We were the No. 1 seed and we thought we had a legitimate chance at winning.'€ The reason for the disqualification? Evidently, overhand Pepper is not allowed in California high school baseball. '€œBecause it was overhand,'€ said Carp when asked for the reasoning behind the elimination. '€œWe were literally standing 10 or 15 away from one another. I guess what they said they had on video guys were throwing normal BP, which I don'€™t know how you get that from a game of Pepper.'€ So, what did Wright say when the two were reunited? '€œHe said that rules were rules,'€ Carp lamented.