Clemson player ejected after brief scuffle in super regional delays game vs. Florida

Sunday’s super regional game between Clemson and Florida was delayed for nearly 20 minutes and a Tigers player was ejected for “leaving his position on the field” during an on-field altercation between players.

Clemson starting first baseman Jack Crighton was ejected from the game following a sequence in the top of the second inning in which Florida pitcher Jac Caglianone made contact with Clemson batter Nolan Nawrocki while tagging him on a ground-out and Nawrocki pushed him in response.

As Nawrocki and Caglianone got in each other’s faces and exchanged words, Crighton, who’d been on second base heading into the at-bat, rounded third base and headed toward the direction of the altercation (and Clemson’s dugout).

The ESPN broadcast originally speculated that Crighton had been ejected for making contact with an umpire (he made light contact with the home plate ump as he got in on the altercation). NCAA baseball rules editor Randy Bruns later confirmed the ejection was for “leaving his position on the field because he went to the site of a potential altercation,” per ESPN’s broadcasters.

During a brief mid-game interview with ESPN, Clemson head coach Erik Bakich said he received the same explanation from the umpires after an 18-minute delay.

“The explanation I got was he was on base and left his position — even though it was the third out of the inning and he was coming back to the dugout,” Bakich said. “ So, I don’t know what to tell you there.”

Before the ESPN clarification and Bakich’s interview, it wasn’t clear what Crighton had been ejected for. About 10 minutes after the altercation, a Clemson representative read off the following clarification (courtesy of the NCAA) to media in the press box: Both teams’ dugouts received “unsportsmanlike conduct warnings” and Crighton had been ejected for an “unsportsmanlike conduct violation.”

The NCAA didn’t initially specify what kind of unsportsmanlike conduct violation.

No punches were thrown during the brief scuffle, and although players from both teams left their dugout (including a significant number of Clemson players), there were no ejections for players leaving the dugout or Florida’s Caglianone and Clemson’s Nawrocki (the two players originally involved).

After the altercation, Clemson fans had chanted “Throw him out!” toward Caglianone, a star two-way player and top MLB prospect who’d already hit a two-run homer earlier in the game (his 33rd of the year) on top of starting at pitcher.

The only ejection was Crighton, for making contact with an umpire. Clemson head coach Erik Bakich was upset with that decision. He told the ESPN broadcast that after hearing the news of Crighton’s ejection, he told umpires: “I’m not gonna be the one to tell him.”

Instead, Bakich brought Crighton out of the dugout and up to home plate so umpires could tell him the news of his ejection face to face (as opposed to through Bakich). After an umpire officially tossed out Crighton, he grew visibly upset and started to approach an umpire before Bakich held him back and calmed him down.

Crighton, per the NCAA, will miss Clemson baseball’s next game “whenever that is.”

Florida ultimately beat Clemson, 11-10, on a walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the 13th inning. Clemson had previously taken a 10-9 lead on a solo home run by Alden Mathes before the Gators’ Michael Robertson drove in two runs to send the Gators to the College World Series and eliminate Clemson, the No. 6 overall seed.

If Clemson won, the teams would’ve played a decisive third game Monday.

Clemson head coach Erik Bakich keeps Jack Crighton away from the umpire after an altercation during NCAA Super Regionals action on Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Clemson, S.C.
Clemson head coach Erik Bakich keeps Jack Crighton away from the umpire after an altercation during NCAA Super Regionals action on Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Clemson, S.C.