The North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference (NTJCAC) announced Thursday it suspended a pitcher for four games because he tackled an opposing batter after a home run. The NTJCAC also suspended the batter for two games because he was ejected for taunting.
The incident happened Wednesday afternoon in Weatherford at the top of the sixth in a seven-inning game between Weatherford College and Gainesville’s North Central Texas College (NCTC).
Weatherford’s Owen Woodward was the pitcher, while NCTC’s Josh Phillips was the hitter. A two-run home run by Phillips gave NCTC the lead.
Video of the incident received widespread attention on social media. The footage shows Phillips rounding third base after his home run without appearing to taunt or showboat. Then Woodward suddenly throws his glove on the ground, sprints towards Phillips, and decks him with a vicious tackle. Several players then rushed onto the field. Phillips was not hurt in the incident.
Eventually, the game was suspended by the umpires.
Weatherford College said police were investigating the matter for possible criminal charges. Weatherford’s head baseball coach said in a Twitter statement that the team is shocked, disappointed, and embarrassed. He added that Woodward could even be expelled from school.
“We do not condone this type of behavior. We have worked hard to build a program with the highest of standards,” Weatherford head coach Jeff Lightfoot said. “We are completely embarrassed by this incident, and we apologize to North Central Texas College and the fans of WC baseball. This type of behavior cannot be tolerated.”
However, NCTC received the brunt of the punishment handed down by the conference because its players rushed onto the field.
The conference suspended “all team members for NCTC that were in the dugout or bullpen” and any assistant coach who went onto the field for two games. Four additional Weatherford players and assistant coaches were also suspended for two games.
The suspensions could leave NCTC without enough players for its next two games against Weatherford. If that is the case, they will have to forfeit. Both teams were forced to forfeit the game that was suspended.
The teams are scheduled to play each other twice this upcoming weekend.
In NCTC’s statement, the program expressed appreciation for Weatherford College taking accountability.
“The unfortunate events at Weatherford College will be used as a teaching moment for our student athletes to help ensure these incidents do not occur in the future.” NCTC Chancellor Brent Wallace said. “We appreciate the integrity of the Weatherford Administration in communicating with NCTC and will be working in conjunction with them to determine the full extent of this event.”