High School Baseball Player in Coma After Line Drive Hit

Pitcher had emergency surgery, placed in medically induced coma

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    NEWSLETTERS

    MLB Photos via Getty Images
    The best bats in the minors will be on display in Allentown.

    A Bay Area high school baseball player is in a medically induced coma after he was hit in the head by a line drive during a game last week.

    Gunnar Sandberg, a junior at Marin Catholic High School, was pitching against De La Salle High School of Concord during a scrimmage when he was hit just above his right ear. Witnesses at the game figure the ball hit Sandberg at about 100 mph.

    "It was the worst thing I've ever seen on a baseball field in 23 years of coaching," Marin Catholic coach Mike Firenzi told the Marin IJ. "I haven't slept for the past two nights thinking about the sound."

    Sandberg was able to answer questions and walk around after the incident but officials at the game didn't take any chances -- they called 911.

    Doctors at the emergency room did CT scans and monitored Sandberg before determining he needed surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. He underwent surgery Friday to remove a portion of his skull to allow for swelling of the brain without compression. He has been in a medically induced temporary coma since then.

    Doctors say the surgery recovery and coma should last three to five days.

    The hard hit has raised long-lingering questions about the use of metal bats in amateur and youth baseball leagues. The De La Salle batter was using a metal bat that evening, which likely increased the speed of the ball. There are different types of bats, including the traditional wooden and aluminium, but many concerned parents have called for bans on metal bats for younger players.

    Another possible safety solution would be to fit the players with helmets. Players who step up to bat already wear helmets but with a pitcher directly in the path of a line drive, the danger of life-threatening injury is all too apparent.

    "We need to make this game safer for the players," Sandberg's father, Bjorn, told the paper. "These new bats are too powerful. They're like weapons."