Carroll County's Aaron Hooven delivers a pitch in this file photo. Hooven was one of several players involved in a brawl in Tuesday night's baseball game between the Cavaliers and Tazewell.
Tuesday's baseball clash between Carroll County and Tazewell had huge implications on the Southwest District race, but is now making headlines for other reasons.
The game was called off in the top of the third inning after a brawl involving both teams in the game at Tazewell. Video of the game posted on Bluefield, West Va. NBC station WVVA's website showed the incident and one leading up to it in the first inning.
In the third inning, Carroll County's Isaac Sumner ripped a fly ball to right field over the outfielder's head. Reece Edwards came in to score and Brandon Lineberry followed. Tazewell catcher Gavin Yates blocked the plate without the ball, resulting in a collision with Lineberry. As Lineberry was on the ground trying to touch home plate, Yates is shown standing over Lineberry and swiping his feet at Lineberry's arms as Lineberry is trying to touch home.
Carroll County batter Aaron Hooven, who was in the on-deck circle, is then shown pushing Yates down in response. Hooven is then shown being tackled by another Tazewell player, and at that point players from both teams are shown rushing in as the situation escalated.
Video is also shown in the first inning of Carroll's Ryan Gravley laying down a suicide squeeze. The video shows Yates and Gravley collide after the bunt, and Taylor Case came in to score from third base. The umpire ruled the play batter's interference, however, calling both Gravley and Case out on the play.
Carroll County was leading when the game was called. On Wednesday afternoon, Carroll County Athletic Director Darrin Matthews said both schools were working for a resolution to the matter.
“The VHSL (Virginia High School League) is involved and the principals are working together, too. I think we're all trying to work together to come up with a good resolution when there is really not one,” Matthews said. “I think it is being portrayed as worse than it was really. It was a 10-second incident and it's not pretty, but I think they portrayed it worse than it was in my opinion.”
Carroll County head coach Joe Tompkins said Wednesday he had been instructed by administration not to talk about the incident.
According to wvva.com, Tazewell County Schools Superintendent Dr. Brenda Lawson said the VHSL told her that the entire Tazewell baseball team has been suspended for their next game and two players are suspended for two games. She also says the VHSL has said the official result of the game is a double forfeiture. In addition, she said the team received a $300 fine and a written warning. Lawson also told wvva.com that Carroll County is expected to receive similar punishment.
Contacted late Wednesday afternoon, CCHS Principal Dr. Scott Watson said that he had spoken with VHSL officials earlier in the day, but that Carroll County is still in the process of working with the VHSL. He said officials gave their interpretation of the video as well as the officials' narrative report from the game.
“Then I shared with them the hours of digging and research we did as well with talking to various coaches and people that were there,” Watson said. “He gave us their interpretation of what happened and now he is asking for a statement of what we intend to do, what the consequences will be from our perspective. Then that will go to the VHSL and they will either concur with us or disagree. We feel the students who were directly involved will be suspended for two games and it was unfortunate. There was a chain of events that occurred there that is unacceptable, but they are good kids and it is unfortunate it happened how it did. There is some degree of question as to the control the officials had.”
Watson said the Carroll County baseball team will also receive a $300 fine, which was specified for students leaving the dugout. While Watson said it is never acceptable to leave the bench, he said he thought Carroll's players had good intentions for the most part.
“I believe they had intentions of helping deescalate the situation, but according to the VHSL rules that's not acceptable. From my understanding there still will not be a final decision until I submit my research and report,” Watson said. “I feel that if the entire (Carroll County) team was responsible and involved, then they would be disciplined accordingly, but from my understanding that is not the case in this situation and I will be appealing the concept of a full team disciplinary action. For the most part, our guys stayed within the limits of the dugout and our coaching staff did an excellent job of deescalating the players and keeping them where they needed to be. These were some very isolated individual cases that were involved. It was not a full team deal. It was said it was a bench-clearing brawl and that is not true.”