To say that the Miami Springs (Fla.) High baseball coach Jason Moris had a rough week is a significant understatement. First, the young head of the rising program was brutally attacked by the father of a former player, a distressing incident which he had to follow up just days later with his team's surprising elimination from the Florida high school postseason.
Not surprisingly, Moris is ready to put that rough four-day stretch in the past.
"What a week," Moris told the Miami Herald. "I worked hard since the incident on Friday to insulate the kids from what happened because I just didn't want it to become a distraction. If they asked, I simply told them, 'I'm ready for Gables on Tuesday, are you?' Our kids did a great job of staying focused on the task at hand [Tuesday], and I'm proud of the effort they put out there. It was a great game, and Gables showed a lot of character coming back to beat us."
According to Herald subsidiary paper River Cities Gazette, the dispute which led to the 26-year-old Moris' attack focused on a player who was cut from the Miami Springs roster when the team was forced to trim down to the state playoff-mandated cap of 20 players. The player in question was allegedly pitcher Ian Rodriguez, who saw his playing time cut dramatically as the season went on (at least according to the Gazette) for disciplinary reasons.
On the basis of police reports from the incident on Good Friday, those disciplinary issues may have been somewhat inspired by Rodriguez's genetic makeup. After learning that his son had been cut from the team's playoff roster, 6-foot, 300-pound Robert Rodriguez, pictured above, attacked the diminutive first-year coach on Miami Springs school property, punching the coach repeatedly and leaving him bloodied and bruised.
In even more appalling proof of the attacker's disconnect with reality, Rodriguez himself called Miami Springs police to try and have Moris arrested … only to be taken into custody himself when police arrived and noticed the difference in size between Rodriguez and the 5-foot-3 Moris, as well as the physical condition the two were in.
"It's an unfortunate situation that happened, but I can't really comment on it any further at this time," Moris told the Gazette after the Good Friday fracas. "Right now, I've got a group of kids that need to stay focused on this week's district playoffs and that's what we're going to do."
Unfortunately for the Miami Springs program, even that focus couldn't help the second-seeded Hawks hold off third-seeded Coral Gables, which emerged with a 9-8 victory after rallying from a 7-3 deficit entering the fifth inning. That unforeseen rally proved to be the final blow in a Miami Springs baseball season marked both by incredible promise and one surprising turn of events after another.
"As players, we really didn't talk much about [the incident] all week," Miami Springs senior shortstop Danny Delgado told the Herald. "We've had to overcome a lot of adversity all year, and this was just one more thing we had to deal with. Even though we didn't win [Tuesday], I'm proud of my teammates for the way we handled everything and the way we played."