SUMTER -- The Sumter P-15’s and the Lexington Post 7 baseball teams will continue their first-round series in the American Legion state playoffs after having a benches-clearing brawl bring a premature end to the opening game on Tuesday at Riley Park.
After a meeting with the coaches and athletic directors from both teams and the umpires from the game with the state baseball committee and the head of the umpires, it was determined the teams would play a best-of-three series which was scheduled to begin on Thursday in Sumter. The second game will be played tonight in Lexington with a third game, if needed, Saturday in Sumter.
“I think it was a fair decision for all of the parties involved,” said Sumter coach Steve Campbell, whose team is 17-4 on the season. “It’s the best scenario for both teams, the players and American Legion baseball in the state.”
The brawl took place in the bottom of the seventh inning with Lexington (4-12) leading Sumter 4-2. The P-15’s Jordan Holladay had been hit by Chase Eargle pitches in his two at-bats after connecting for an RBI single in the first, when he came to the plate with one out. Both benches had been warned after Holladay was hit in the fifth, so Holladay apparently took offense when Eargle sailed a 2-1 pitch toward his head.
Holladay ducked to avoid the pitch and charged the mound, soon to be followed by players from both teams, including some from both benches.
Post 7 had four players ejected, while Sumter had two. With the ejections, Lexington was short on players and it was originally declared Sumter was the winner by forfeit, according to Post 15 athletic director Bill Lyons immediately following the game. The game ended up as a forfeit for both teams.
All of the ejected players will be available for the remainder of the series.
“We’re pleased that we were able to work it out this way,” Lyons said. “We’re happy that both teams are going to be able to continue in the playoffs.”
There was concern that both teams might be removed from the playoffs due to the fight as what was done to the teams from Douglasville, Ga., and Cherryville, N.C., after they had a fight in the 2011 Southeast Regional held in Sumter.
With Sumter being allowed to remain in the playoffs, it will hold on to that automatic berth it received in the eight-team state tournament which will be held July 23-27 at Riley Park.
“This was a decision made by the state baseball committee with approval from the national committee,” said state director Legree Oswald.
Campbell said he and his team haven’t lost sight of what led to this situation.
“While we’re happy to still be playing, we’re embarrassed by this,” Campbell said. “I can promise you this will never happen again.”