Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Playoff Baseball Tests Turn a Bit Testy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Playoff Baseball Tests Turn a Bit Testy

Article excerpt

Byline: Chase Goodbread

High school baseball players are generally a level-headed breed, competitive but rarely combative.

In more than a decade of covering the sport, I've never witnessed a bench-clearing brawl or anything resembling one. Last week in district tournament play, however, things became a bit feisty at more than one area game as the state playoff field began to open its gates to some teams and send others to pack their gear for the summer.

Even in baseball, tempers can heat up when seasons -- and individual careers -- come to an end.

Thursday night, Nease opened the fireworks with three ejections that resulted in suspensions totaling six games.

Englewood's game with Fleming Island wasn't without some ill words exchanged, but other than a chest bump that was overlooked by the umpire, nothing became physical.

Fernandina Beach's game with Bishop Kenny, a rivalry that has found its way to district title meetings many times before, also included a sideshow. A Kenny player was plunked following a home run the previous at-bat, drawing complaints from the BK dugout. Several Pirates told coach Ken Roland that the Crusader who homered gestured while circling the bases, but Roland said he didn't witness it and didn't believe the plunking was intentional.

"We had a sophomore on the mound who let one get away," Roland said. "The timing [after a home run] wasn't great, granted, but we don't coach that way, and neither does [BK coach] Tommy [Edwards]. We had both already made the playoffs, so I don't think there was any extra tension."

Things also got testy in the Bartram Trail-Fleming Island game, with a playoff spot on the line, last Thursday.

"Sometimes in districts, guys can get a little edgy," Golden Eagles coach Don Suriano said Friday night. "It can be an intense week of baseball. …

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