It seems violence is the theme within the sports world this year, and unfortunately it can catch you in almost any circumstance. For a high school student in New Jersey, it caught him when he was attempting to retrieve a foul ball during a baseball game.
An 18-year-old ballplayer for Union Catholic High was playing in Scotch Plains N.J. on Saturday when he went to retrieve a foul ball that had landed on private property. That prompted the owner of the house, 44-year-old Michael Bennett, to rush out of his home to confront the young man.
Bennett rushed over to the boy, and according to what Scotch Plains Police Capt. Brian Donnelly told MyCentralJersey.com, "grabbed him by the neck and wrist," then "grabbed the ball and told him to get off his property."
The assault left a visible scratch on the 18-year-old's neck, whose name has not been released, and was enough evidence for police to charge Bennett with assault. Bennett was later released on his own recognizance and has no comment to say on the incident.
"No doubt about it, it was the most surreal experience I've had in 11 years as a baseball coach," Union Catholic assistant principal and varsity baseball coach Jim Reagan Jr. told MyCentralJersey.com.
"But the kid is fine. I think other than being shocked and surprised at what occurred, he's OK."
Reagan stated that he shouted for Bennett to stop and that Bennett bolted back in the house when he and others approached.
The disturbing incident overshadowed a great day for Union Catholic baseball. Playing a double-header, the school won 10-0 on a no-hitter in the first game and won 9-0 the second game, despite a 25 minute delay, as the game was stopped until authorities came and took care of the situation.
The player who was assaulted wasn't in the game at the time of the incident but did enter as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning.
"It was a great day for our baseball team and a great day for our seniors," Reagan said. "He is what Senior Day is all about — just a great kid from a great family. It's just really unfortunate that this incident had to take place at all."
Photo Credit: AP
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.