Keppel’s remarkable baseball season came to a disappointing end Friday when the CIF-Southern Section announced the Aztecs will have to forfeit their wild-card win from earlier this week because of an ineligible player, thus eliminating them from the playoffs.
Keppel (8-17) was set to play at Elsinore on Friday afternoon in the first round of the Division 3 playoffs, but instead rode the long bus ride back to school from Wildomar after the violation came to light. The Aztecs will forfeit their wild-card win against Hawthorne, and Hawthorne moves on to play the first round game today at Elsinore.
Keppel coach Houston Hernandez received a call from his administration just as he was stepping off the bus at Elsinore. About a half hour later, he was informed the Aztecs had to pack up and head home.
“This is probably one of the worst days ever,” said Hernandez before elaborating. “It was definitely an administrative error, period. Somebody didn’t do their job and now we have to suffer for it.”
The CIF-SS sent out a statement Friday evening, alluding that more forfeits is a possibility.
“Mark Keppel is faced with the potential loss of every win this season depending on the number of games their ineligible player appeared in,” the statement read. “Information was received by the CIF-Southern Section office this afternoon of a player who transferred from another CIF-SS school without proper paperwork.”
Hernandez said he was succinct when delivering the message, and players mingled on the field in disbelief.
“They stayed on the field for about 20 minutes and it sunk in that all their hard work had been taken away,” Hernandez said. “It was emotional out there, and I was too. How could everything we did be swept away because someobody didn’t do their job.”
Keppel, which finished tied for third with Schurr in the Almont League, earned its first playoff berth this season for the first time in at least a decade. The Aztecs were 7-93 in the five years prior to Hernandez taking over three eyars ago, and the program had won just two of their 75 league games.
“There was nothing that these boys or myself could have done to make the situation any better,” Hernandez said. “It’s a little hard and a little embarassing the way it ended. There was was nothing that these boys or myself could have done to make this situation any better. It really hurts, but hopefully push us really hard for next year.”