Three scheduled baseball games between the University of San Diego and Nevada Reno will not be played, and two coaches and two players have been suspended after Friday’s five-minute, bench-clearing brawl during a game in Reno.
Officials from both West Coast Conference schools decided late Friday to cancel completion of that game, and USD elected to forfeit a scheduled doubleheader Saturday.
The fight, which began with a hard slide and then retaliation, appears to have been a carry-over from an incident in the teams’ first meeting in San Diego.
Base umpire Jim Lenau said Friday’s trouble began in the fifth inning with Reno leading, 3-1, when USD freshman Chad Boyd dove back to first on a pickoff attempt and was tagged hard on the back by junior first baseman John DeRicco.
Lenau said both players were given a warning. The pitcher immediately attempted another pickoff, and Boyd collided with DeRicco while diving back. DeRicco then shoved Boyd.
Both benches cleared and players from both sides began fighting. A few spectators later got into a fight, but none went on the field.
“That’s the worst fight I’ve seen in college baseball in 20 years of officiating,” said Lenau, who is supervisor of officials for the Sacramento Assn. of Collegiate Officials.
Aside from cuts and bruises, no one was seriously injured. The umpires postponed the game after order was restored and later said that Boyd, DeRicco, Reno Coach Gary Powers and Jake Molina, a USD assistant, had been ejected.
Don Ott, assistant commissioner of the WCC, said that Powers and Molina are suspended indefinitely.
Boyd will miss Tuesday’s game with San Diego State and at least Friday’s WCC game with Pepperdine. DeRicco will miss at least a WCC game Friday against St. Mary’s. Ott said suspensions of at least a game are mandatory under NCAA and WCC rules but can be extended.
Ott said the incident is under review by WCC Commissioner Michael Gilleran, who is waiting for more information.
Both sides feared trouble before the series. USD Coach John Cunningham expressed his concern to the WCC office, and Reno added extra security. Gilleran and Ott had made plans before Friday’s incident to fly in for Saturday’s games and did so, only to find that USD had decided to forfeit them.
“Based on the intensity of the fight, less than than 24 hours was not enough time to cool down,” said Tom Iannacone, USD athletic director.
Said Ott: “The key reason we wanted them to play was to redeem themselves, to give them a chance to rise above the embarrassment they’ve brought upon themselves.”
Cunningham chose to say little about the incident Saturday.
“Things are serious enough that I’m not going to make any comments until things are handled by our athletic director and the conference,” he said.
When the two teams met in San Diego in early March, Boyd and DeRicco were involved in a similar incident but in reversed roles. DeRicco, attempting to break up a double play at second, was struck in the face by second baseman Boyd’s relay throw. Both benches cleared, but there was no fight.
Joe DeRicco, Reno’s third base coach and John’s brother, was ejected from that game. John DeRicco, an All-WCC selection in 1989, had surgery to repair six broken bones in his cheek and was out for a month.
USD was 15-15 (23-29 overall) and tied for third in the WCC entering Friday. Reno was 8-12 (26-20) and in sixth. The lost games would not have affected the WCC championship or postseason consideration for either team.