Clemson’s Jack Crighton ejected in NCAA super regional against Florida


Game 2 of the Clemson-Florida Super Regional series was more than just a back-and-forth 13-inning NCAA Tournament instant classic. There were multiple controversies with the home team and its fans upset with the umpire crew.

Early in the game, a play at first base led to an uninvolved Clemson player being tossed for leaving his place on the field and joining the brief scuffle. Later in the game, two Tigers coaches were tossed.

Alden Mathes hit a go-ahead solo home run for Clemson in the top of the 13th inning. It was widely assumed that Mathes was ejected for slamming his bat in celebration.

Jack Leggett, a legendary Clemson head coach who now serves as a Tiger assistant, was tossed, along with head coach Erik Bakich. Media members and fans were under the initial impression that Mathes had also been tossed and the coaches were ejected for arguing that decision.

Mathes, though, was not ejected, returning to the outfield in the bottom of the inning. Fans and media members were confused what Leggett and Bakich were arguing about with the umpires since Mathes was not removed from the game.

David Hood of TigerNet relayed clarification after the game. Leggett was tossed for his reaction to Mathes receiving a warning.

At this time, we’re not getting an explanation from Bakich as he was not part of the postgame press conference due to his ejection. It was stated on the ESPN broadcast that he would not have been allowed to coach a Game 3 if the series had reached that point.

Jack Leggett had to leave a classic game before it was over after umpires ejected him, along with Erik Bakich, at the top of the 13th inning of the Clemson Super Regional. It wasn’t what anyone wanted to see toward the end of a matchup like that one turned out to be, even for Florida and their head coach in Kevin O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan addressed the tossing of Leggett, his former boss when he too was at Clemson, following the 11-10 win for his Gators in extra innings on Sunday. From how he recalled it, he wasn’t entirely sure what happened as he was focusing on his team. Still, upon realizing that the ejection had happened, he himself expressed regret that it had to happen that way.

“I mean I didn’t know it happened, you know,” O’Sullivan said postgame. “Obviously, the lead-off hitter hit the home run and next thing I was I went back, I looked at the lineup card to see who we had coming up and that type of thing.”

“I didn’t know it happened but, obviously, it’s unfortunate. I mean he’s a legend, Hall of Famer,” said O’Sullivan. “You hate to see that happen.”

O’Sullivan was an assistant and associate head coach under Leggett at Clemson in a tenure from 2002 to 2007. Leggett, who was the head coach of the Tigers from 1994 to 2015, has since returnd to the program to assist in player, staff and program development. He is in his second season in that role under Bakich.

The umpires would send both Bakich and Leggett out at the top of the 13th. A home run from Alden Mathes gave Clemson their first lead since the top of the eighth. After that play, a spike of his bat would lead to a conversation between the officials. Both coaches would come out of the dugout in that time with them both earning ejections moments later. Bakich would then go as far as to follow one umpire around the center of the diamond.

Florida walked it off with a hit from Michael Robertson to give the Gators the ending that they wanted. It just wasn’t fully ideal for O’Sullivan in seeing coaches, including his former boss, get tossed.

Clemson first baseman Jack Crighton was ejected from the Tigers’ 11-10 13-inning loss to Florida in Game 2 of their super regional series after an altercation between the two teams.

With the Gators up 2-0 in the top of the second inning, Florida pitcher Jac Caglianone and Clemson’s Nolan Nawrocki collided on a tag to end the inning after Nawrocki hit a dribbler down the first-base line. Caglianone and Nawrocki exchanged words and needed to be separated, and dugouts cleared for both teams.

During the play, Crighton had rounded third base. By the time the altercation between Caglianone and Nawrocki started, he ran over to the skirmish with the rest of his teammates.

After a delay, Crighton, who began the play as a runner on second base, was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct. During the confrontation, he appeared to make contact with an umpire.

Both dugouts received unsportsmanlike conduct warnings, while Tryston McCladdie replaced Crighton at first base.

Crighton will be suspended one game as a result of his ejection.

In the top of the 13th inning, Clemson head coach Erik Bakich and assistant Jack Leggett were both ejected. They were thrown out for their conduct after Clemson’s Alden Mathes ripped an 0-2 pitch to right field for the go-ahead run. Mathes threw down his bat, as if to spike it, before beginning his trot around the bases but was not ejected for excessive celebration.

The NCAA did not immediately provide an explanation for why Bakich and Leggett were tossed; they will each be suspended for two games.

In 35 games this year, Crighton posted a .307 batting average with 12 RBIs in 129 plate appearances.

Kevin O’Sullivan credits Florida’s ‘resiliency’ to beat Clemson in wild 13-inning game

Sunday’s Super Regional game between Florida and Clemson certainly didn’t disappoint, coming down to the wire as it took 13 innings to reach a conclusion. It was the Gators who came out on top in the end, using a walk-off double from Michael Robertson to escape with an 11-10 victory to punch their ticket to the College World Series.

Florida overcame several blows, including a solo home run from in the top of the 13th from Alden Mathes that gave the Tigers a 10-9 lead. But each time the Gators came back with a response as they refused to go down.

Speaking postgame, coach Kevin O’Sullivan praised his team for the way they pushed through until the end.

“It was just back-and-forth,” he said. “We really had a tough decision to make with bringing Neely back in. We really tried to get through the eighth inning there and just use him for the ninth. But we showed a tremendous amount of resiliency against an outstanding Clemson team. I’m just awfully proud of our players.”

Florida led 9-6 going into the top of the ninth inning before Cam Cannarella connected on a three-run homer to tie things up. The Gators then went three up, three down in the bottom of the inning to send the game to extras.

There was a moment in the 10th inning when it appeared as if Florida would get the walk-off when Ashton Wilson hit a ball to deep center with two runners on. However, Cannarella made a spectacular catch to end the inning and keep the game going.

Still, the Gators continued to fight. That has been the attitude they’ve adopted all season long and it paid off Sunday.

“It’s a long season for a reason,” O’Sullivan said. “Our guys just kept fighting and fighting. We had our inconsistencies earlier in the year because our pitching was very young. But you’ve got Luke McNeillie out there to finish a game. We just continued to stay the course. It was up and down this season but we did what we needed to do to win two out of three and here we are.”

McNeillie pitched the final two innings of the game to pick up the win for the Gators. Jac Caglianone got the start and pitched 5.2 innings, while Brandon Neely pitched four innings including the first two of extras.

The College World Series appearance is the 14th in program history and second straight for Florida, which finished runner up in 2023. The Gators had a tough path to get there this season as they were not a national seed, winning both their Regional and Super Regional on the road.

They certainly showed their grit on Sunday and proved they belong despite finishing the regular season with a 28-27 record. Now after barely sneaking into the field, they’ll have a chance to win it all next week.

“It’s sweet right now,” O’Sullivan said. “I know we got a lot of criticism throughout the year. But all the teams, it’s really hard to go on the road. Oklahoma State last weekend was an outstanding team on the road. Then to turn around and come to Clemson. The fans, the atmosphere was just outstanding this weekend. It’s certainly exciting right now but we’re gonna let this one savor a little bit.”

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