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North Coast Section OK's continued use of metal baseball bats

Votes against proposed ban during upcoming championship games

High School baseball players from Pleasanton and Bay Area communities up to the Oregon border will still be able to use metal bats during championship play in late May and early June.

The board of managers of the North Coast Section, which includes Pleasanton and the East Bay, as well as certain high schools in the North Bay, voted 32-12 Monday not to ban the use of non-wood bats in the Les Schwab Tires Championships, the North Coast Section's Commissioner of Athletics Gil Lemmon said Monday afternoon.

The Marin County Athletic League asked the North Coast Section to consider banning non-wood bats during the championship games after Marin Catholic High School pitcher Gunnar Sandberg was struck in the head by a baseball hit with a metal bat on March 11.

Sandberg was put in a medically induced coma and a portion of his skull was removed to make room for the swelling in his brain.

He was released from Marin General Hospital and is recovering at a San Francisco medical facility. He is expected to be released May 3.

The Marin County Athletic League's teams agreed not to use metal bats for the rest of the season and the playoffs because of Sandberg's injury.

Lemmon said the North Coast Section adopts the playing rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations based in Indianapolis.

The rules allow the use of non-wood bats but those bats must still meet Ball Exit Speed Ration Standards. Non-wood bats can't have cracks and severe dents and are inspected by umpires, Lemmon said.

Lemmon said pitchers on high school teams in the North Coast Section are allowed to wear protective helmets.

There are 168 schools in the North Coast Section and about 70 of them will play in the championship games between May 25 and June 5, Lemmon said.

Lemmon said if the board of managers had voted Monday to ban non-wood bats, teams would have received a memo telling them to start preparing for the use of wood bats only.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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