Osceola High will not play its regional semifinal playoff baseball game tonight at Timber Creek as scheduled.
Because they used an ineligible player in Wednesday's 1-0 win over Winter Park in the Region 9A-2 quarterfinals, Timber Creek will receive a bye and play the winner of Vero Beach and Newsome on Wednesday.
At the heart of the matter is senior pitcher Hamilton Martinez, who did not begin the season on the Kowboys' roster, but was the starting pitcher on Wednesday. The Florida High School Athletic Association requires players to be on the lineup card and in uniform for at least 10 regular-season games (in the case of baseball they need not play but be dressed out and in the dugout) to be eligible for the playoffs.
Osceola County Athletic Director Ryan Adams said Friday that the FHSAA contacted him "about a possible player on Wednesday from who had not been in uniform the state minimum 10 games."
Coach Scott Birchler and his coaches reportedly checked lineup cards Friday and found Hamilton had only appeared in eight games, and they voluntarily forfeited their playoff spot, Adams said.
Martinez, who played the entire season for Osceola as a junior in 2018, played most of the spring for the TNXL Academy baseball program, which like other academies works outside of the FHSAA and is mainly used by players for exposure for the college level.
During the District 9A-5 tournament last week, Birchler said Martinez didn't begin the year with the team but was at the ball park for nearly every home game.
"I told him, 'Since you're here every game, why don't you at least put on a uniform and sit in the dugout instead of the stands?'" Birchler said. "He missed his high school team."
Adams said "the right thing" is being done for the integrity of the state series.
"I'm proud of school for acknowledging the mistake," he said.
This saga may have started on social media. On Thursday, Brian J. Martinez, on the Twitter handle @TNXL_Baseball, posted that "one of my pitchers was asked to throw for his old high school after our season ended.
Martinez, no relation to the Osceola pitcher, said he threw on Friday and Sunday then threw 106 pitches against Winter Park Wednesday.
"Just to win a regional game! This is high school baseball at its finest. No care for the kids future at all!" the Twitter post said.