NORMAN — The pitch sailed past the plate, and DJ Gasso took off for home plate. The Norman North senior slid just under the tag and put the T-Wolves up 3-1 on Arlington Country Day in the sixth inning at the Aggie Classic in Pensacola, Fla.
That was when the catcher stood up and punched Gasso, inciting a brawl that left the game canceled and several T-Wolves nursing injuries. The Panthers, a competitive traveling team not tied to a specific high school or region, consist of a roster made up primarily of under-18 players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and almost every player on the roster is bound for a Division-I university.
North coach Brian Aylor said the team was frustrated that Norman North was winning, and blamed that for the poor decision-making on the part of the Panthers that led to the bench-clearing brawl.
“I’ve been coaching for 15 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Aylor said. “When a player gets punched in the mouth at home plate, he has a right to defend himself. Our guys went out to try and protect DJ, and I’m proud of them. You hope it never gets to a point like this, but we weren’t the ones that started this.”
Video evidence of the event corroborated Aylor’s claim, and tournament officials disqualified Arlington Country Day and told the Timberwolves that they had won the game.
Aylor said that several North players were nursing hurt hands and will have X-rays when back in Oklahoma.
“They told us we won the game, so in my mind we beat one of the best teams I’ve ever seen,” Aylor said.
Sapulpa 8, Norman High 0: Norman High was supposed to compete at the Catoosa tournament this weekend, but the event was canceled due to weather concerns.
That didn’t stop NHS from getting in a game against Sapulpa, scheduled so that the trip wouldn’t be a waste.
But the Tigers didn’t come out ready to play and paid for it against Sapulpa, which jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and didn’t look back.
“It was cold and windy, but that was something both teams had to deal with,” coach Pete Sangirardi said. “We just didn’t come out ready to play.”
NHS plans to play at least one game, and possibly two, against Collinsville at 1 p.m. today.