A nail-biting consolation game between high school baseball teams from Oklahoma and Florida ended in a double forfeit following alleged racial slurs, "sucker" punches and a bench-clearing brawl after which each coach defended his players' actions.
The fight erupted during a play at the plate in the sixth inning of a 2-1 game between Jacksonville (Fla.) Arlington Country Day School and Norman (Okla.) North High in the Tate Aggie Classic in Pensacola, Fla., according to the Pensacola News Journal report.
Here's how it went down , according to the report: With a trio of Norman North players loading the Blue Wahoos Stadium bases, Arlington Country Day pitcher Jonathan Rodriguez threw a wild sixth-inning pitch off the backstop, ACDS catcher Brian Navaretto retrieved and delivered the ball to Rodriguez at the plate, NNHS base-runner D.J. Gasso slid home safely and Rodriguez applied a late tag accompanied by a slap to the face.
While home plate ump Jason Young was busy tossing Rodriguez, Navarreto reportedly decided to punch Gasso in the face. A minute-long bench-clearing brawl ensued, and the officiating crew fittingly ended the game in an immediate loss for both sides.
And that was only the beginning. Accusations flew from both sides in the game's aftermath.
“We’re not proud we got in brawl. Not at all,” Arlington Country Day coach Ron Dickerson, whose team features a number of Dominican students, told the News Journal. “We’ll use it as a life lesson and understand that there are consequences for your actions. I don’t believe in violence, but I do believe you have to protect yourself. People saying ‘Spics’ and ‘Spic lovers’ ... that’s not a good situation. That doesn’t belong in the game of baseball, and neither does how this particular game ended.”
Dickerson further explained that he approached Young about the alleged racial slurs in the fourth inning, and when the ump issued a warning to the Oklahoma side, the Norman North dugout reportedly responded: "You’re too big of a black guy to whine like that."
However, Norman North coach Brian Aylor also defended his players' response to what he dubbed a "sucker punch," claiming his team has never been involved in such shenanigans.
"I know we’ve never in our history had a fight, and I’ve been at this school for nine years," he told the News Journal's Brady Aymond. "It’s the first time it’s ever occurred. Obviously, for it to get to that point, something had to happen pretty dramatic to cause our kids to go over that line. When a kid gets sucker-punched in the face, you just can’t tell the kid to sit there and take it. It is what it is. We’ll talk about it as a team in-house and try to regroup and get back to Oklahoma.”
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- Arlington Country Day School