Norman North baseball coach Brian Aylor denied his team made any racially charged comments before a brawl last week in Pensacola, Fla., that ended in a double forfeit.
“Not once, before the game, during the game or after the game was there any comment about race,” Aylor said Monday. “That's just not who we are.”
Norman North was 3-0 in the 20th Annual Tate Aggie Classic in Pensacola, Fla., playing for third place when the brawl broke out.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Jacksonville Arlington Country Day pitcher Jonathan Rodriguez's bases-loaded wild pitch allowed D.J. Gasso to score easily.
But after catcher Brian Navarreto's throw to the plate, Rodriguez applied a late tag, then appeared to slap Gasso in the face with his pitching hand.
Rodriguez was immediately ejected, then Navarreto walked up and punched Gasso in the face, according to the Pensacola News Journal, setting off a brief brawl.
Arlington Country Day coach Ron Dickerson told the paper later that day that Norman North's players were hurling racially charged insults toward his players and to the team's coaches.
The paper said Norman North's bench was warned earlier in the game after insults were hurled.
“In the fourth inning, the umpire came over and said to us, ‘Their coach wants you to stop pointing into their dugout,'” Aylor said.
Aylor said the Norman North bench was pointing toward the dugout after Navarreto made an obscene gesture toward the Timberwolves' side.
After the brawl, Aylor said he was told by the tournament director that his team, which had just taken a 3-1 lead on Gasso's run, had been declared the winner by forfeit.
Aylor didn't learn until he read the story in the Pensacola paper that the ruling had been changed.
Arlington Country Day is not a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association. The school dropped out in August 2010 amid reports that the private school was under investigation by the FHSAA for rules violations in multiple sports.
Arlington Country Day features several Division I prospects and signees. Navarreto is a preseason first-team Rawlings All-American.
Two players from the school — infielder Blake Hennessey and outfielder Iramis Olivencia — have either signed with or committed to Oklahoma State.
“They're a really good team and we were playing really well out there,” Aylor said. “It's a shame it ended like that.”
Aylor hopes the brawl, which was featured on national news sites like Yahoo Sports and USA Today, won't tarnish the reputation of the team and the school.
“In today's day and age, the wrong thing gets said about you and it gets retweeted and retold over and over and eventually it's taken as the truth,” Aylor said. “It's a shame that it's like that.”