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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Team Has to Walk So Coach Does, Too

Baseball: Pierce resigns and Grace Brethren won't let him return when forfeit helps Lancers reach final.

June 04, 1998|MIKE BRESNAHAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SIMI VALLEY — A dispute with school officials over a fund-raising walkathon has left Grace Brethren High without its baseball coach heading into the Southern Section Division VI championship game Friday.

Dan Pierce, who compiled a 41-5 record in two seasons at Grace Brethren, resigned after administrators refused his request to have his players excused from a school-sponsored, five-mile walk on Friday, the day of the team's quarterfinal game.

All 14 Grace Brethren players took part in the mandatory walkathon, which concluded two hours before the Lancers played Pacific Coast Christian, Pierce said.

Pierce told his players after the game, a 4-2 loss by Grace Brethren, he would resign because of a series of run-ins with school officials regarding requests he made on behalf of the baseball program.

"It was a lack of support from the school board and administrators," Pierce said.

"They didn't want to support a successful program, I guess. . . . [the walkathon] was the straw that broke the camel's back."

Pierce said several players and their parents complained about the team having excessive exercise on the day of a playoff game.

School officials said some players were allowed to stop when they got tired during the walkathon, which raised funds for school computers.

"When our pitcher [Tim Thompson] got halfway, he said something to me and I put him in a [teacher's] car and said, 'OK, ride,' " said Grace Brethren Principal Louis Mann.

Mann said catcher Jackson Beauchamp was also given a ride.

Grace Brethren was awarded a forfeit Monday after it was ruled that Pacific Coast Christian used the same pitcher five times in one week, a violation of Southern Section rules. Additionally, the pitcher was on the mound for 31 outs, one more than allowed by the Southern Section in a one-week period.

Pierce said upon hearing of the forfeit, he asked school officials if he could continue coaching the team but was told assistant Jim Thompson would coach for the rest of the season.

Thompson was in charge Tuesday in the Lancers' 6-5 semifinal victory over Colton Christian Center Academy.

"I have no animosity toward Dan," Mann said. "He is a quality coach. [But] he had resigned."

Grace Brethren (22-2) will play La Verne Lutheran in the Division VI championship game at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Blair Field in Long Beach.

Pierce said he plans to watch the game from the stands.

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