The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


May 5, 2014

Tempers flare following wild finish to GAC tourney game

ENID, Okla. — Things got a little heated at David Allen Memorial Ballpark Monday, and it wasn’t just because of the 101-degree temperature on a scorching May afternoon.

Tempers flared at the conclusion of the second game of the day during the Great American Conference baseball tournament in an elimination game between top-seed Arkansas Tech and defending conference tournament champion Southern Arkansas, resulting in both benches emptying onto the field and the conference issuing official reprimands to three players.

With the game tied 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Southern Arkansas’ Trevor Rucker laced a double to left field with two runners on base, scoring Josh Rodriguez from second base with the winning run. However, before crossing the plate, Rodriguez barrelled into and ran over Arkansas Tech catcher Keenan Jumper, who was blocking the base path, but had not yet received the relay throw.

Rodriguez touched home plate after the collision and was ruled safe, giving the Muleriders a 6-5 walk-off win over the Wonder Boys, igniting emotions as the Arkansas Tech bench objected to Rodriguez running over Jumper. The Wonder Boys had rallied to tie the game in the top of the ninth inning.

Both sides appeared to engage in some taunting as the benches emptied, and one Southern Arkansas player appeared to throw his helmet after the play, but it did not strike anybody. Coaches and umpires quickly separated the two sides.

Afterward, the GAC said it reprimanded “two student-athletes from Southern Arkansas and one from Arkansas Tech for their conduct at the conclusion” of the game, but did not name the players.

“No punches were thrown and there were no post-game ejections, but the actions of SAU-ATU falls well short of the the conduct expected from GAC student athletes,” GAC commissioner Will Prewitt said in a prepaered statement. “It is disappointing that a well-played contest would be overshadowed by a near-altercation at its conclusion.”

Prewitt commended the the coaching staffs and umpires for preventing the matter from escalating further.

The win advanced the Muleriders into today’s noon contest against Harding, with the winner advancing to the title game against Arkansas-Monticello at 3:30 p.m.

The loss ended a disappointing three-game tournament for the Wonder Boys, who came in riding a 22-game winning streak, but were eliminated after losing two out of three games.

The GAC tournament concludes today at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.

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