Fight shocks Sac State infielder

State Hornet Staff

Senior second baseman Andrew Ayers has done many things on the baseball diamond, but he said being involved in a fist fight was something brand new to him.

In the third inning of Friday’s game against UC Riverside, Ayers and three Riverside players were ejected. According to NCAA rules, any players participating in a fight will serve a four-game suspension.

The incident happened during a rundown between second and third base after Ayers applied the tag.

“As I tagged him, he tried to rip off my glove, so I pushed him away and said, ‘Don’t do that,’” Ayers said. “He came back and punched me. I was kind of stunned by that. I thought he was just going to get in my face.”

Last season, Ayers won Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year and so far this year he is batting .231 with 2 RBIs.

Ayers played football, baseball and basketball at St. Bernard’s High School in Eureka and never got into a fight while playing sports.

The only fights Ayers said he ever had were with his siblings growing up.

“I’ve been punched a lot harder by my brother and sister,” Ayers said with a smile. “This is something you never want to see, but my teammates had my back. It just shows what kind of team we are.”

Junior outfielder David Del Grande has played with Ayers since their days at St. Bernard and said the fight was one of the craziest things that has happened on the baseball field.

“I saw Andrew push the guy and say a few words to him and all of a sudden he turns around and I thought, ‘This isn’t going to go well,’” Del Grande said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

Not only were his teammates stunned at what was happening, but so were his parents, who drove down from Eureka for their son’s first home series of the season.

“I talked to Andrew afterward and he was still in shock,” said Andrew’s father, Phil Ayers. “We didn’t think he threw a punch at first and then we saw he had. I would have done the same thing. You can take one, but you are not going to take two.”

After the situation, Ayers said his mother, Jani, was in tears.

“I reacted like a mom,” Jani Ayers said. “First, I was first worried that he was OK. Out of my four children, he’s the one that likes confrontation the least, so I knew something preceded the push.”

While Ayers’ parents were still in shock over what they had just witnessed, Phil Ayers said he was curious about how a game escalated that quickly.

“I was wondering where the second base umpire was who just made the call,” Phil Ayers said. “There was immediate body language and all he had to do was get over there and position himself and none of this would have happened.”

Unlike professional baseball, which has four umpires, college baseball only uses three, but Phil Ayers said he does not feel like the NCAA should require four umpires for every game.

Fights in baseball do not happen often, especially on the college level, but word quickly spread, giving Sac State baseball national media attention because of a video local TV station KCRA captured of the entire fight.

Soon, USA Today, KCRA news, Yahoo! Sports and even SportsCenter aired the fight.

“This isn’t the way you want to get national attention, but it’s out there,” Ayers said. “I’m not happy about it, but it shows what kind of team we are and we aren’t going to back down from anybody.”

Ayers returned to practice Monday and said it was nice to be out there.

“It’s hard to get even closer than we already are this year, but I hope this sets us off in the right direction,” Ayers said. “We have won two out of the last three games and we have to just keep it going.”

Ryan can be reached on Twitter at @rskuhn