Posted: 12:00 pm Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
By Jason Lieser
Updated 4:22 p.m.
Trinity Christian’s baseball team arrived at Tradition Field for pre-game warm-ups with its entire roster and an injunction, meaning the team will play its state semifinal game against Tampa-Cambridge. The game originally was scheduled for 5 p.m. but likely will be delayed due to weather.
The injunction was granted in a St. Lucie County court earlier this afternoon. The team currently is practicing on a back diamond at Tradition Field.
Trinity Christian will voluntarily hold out Richard Bain and Jonathan Groezinger because the school was not seeking a reduction in their suspensions. Bain ran in from center field and Groezinger left the dugout during Friday’s fight, which ultimately resulted in 16 suspensions.
The alternative to the injunction would have been bringing up JV players, at a $50 per athlete fine, but coach Miguel Cuello and athletic director Fred Erdman said earlier today that would not have been an option.
Cuello told the Post he will stick by his original plan to start senior Vince Kossak on the mound, even though ace Jacob Johnson is now at his disposal.
The FHSAA informed Trinity Christian yesterday that most of its varsity baseball roster was suspended. The punishment stems from a fight between the Warriors and Brito Miami Private in Friday’s regional finals Game 2.
In the third inning of that game, played at Miami Southridge High, Brito’s Daniel Bolanos delivered a hard blow with his body — and especially his forearm — to Trinity Christian catcher Phildrick Llewellyn on a play at home.
The contact sparked a fight that drew almost every uniformed player to the infield and caused a 29-minute delay. Umpires ejected five players from each side.
The FHSAA has a standard two-game suspension for ejections, but can shorten or lengthen that penalty after review.
Late Tuesday, Erdman and Cuello were optimistic about the potential reinstatement of three of those players in time for Wednesday’s game. At worst, they figured, all five players would be forced to sit out the semifinal and subsequently would be allowed to return for Thursday’s state championship game if Trinity Christian reached it.
Instead, the FHSAA issued every varsity player except for Llewellyn, who was omitted because he did not leave his position or the dugout during the altercation, a two-game suspension. For his part, Llewellyn said he was lying on his back and not fully conscious during the fight.
The five ejected players — Johnson, Groezinger, Bain, Adaric Kelly and Brandon Murray — received four-game bans, of which one game was served when they sat out Saturday’s Game 3 against Brito. All of the suspensions will be season-ending if they are upheld.
Last month, the FHSAA disqualified Vero Beach’s girls lacrosse team from the state tournament for violating a scheduling rule. An Indian River County judge granted the team an injunction against the ruling, which allowed Vero Beach to continue playing. The Indians went on to win the state championship, but could ultimately vacate their title if the FHSAA’s original ruling is later upheld.
If Trinity Christian plays suspended players, it will run the same risk. If the Warriors go that route and win both games this week, then the suspensions are upheld later, there would be no state champion for Class 1A. The Warriors will vacate any win achieved with suspended players if the initial ruling stands.
Ray Catena, a Boynton Beach resident with whom Murray lives, said late Tuesday he hoped the school would take legal action.
“It’s totally ridiculous. It’s a sin,” Catena said of the FHSAA ruling. “I’m ashamed to live in a state where they let a board like the FHSAA rule on matters of this with our children. I think the FHSAA needs to be investigated.
“It was a very irrational decision. They should present evidence to this decision.”
If Trinity Christian’s 5 p.m. game against Tampa-Cambridge is delayed long enough by rain, it will be postponed to Thursday. The FHSAA has an 8 p.m. game scheduled Wednesday and informed coaches earlier this week it will try to keep as many scheduled games intact as possible, meaning the 8 p.m. game would not be moved to accommodate an earlier rainout.