Ocean View High School had a comfortable lead in a Sunset League baseball game against Westminster Saturday afternoon. The Seahawks left the field with a 10-5 win that put them into a tie with Fountain Valley for the league lead.
But, before they left, things got very uncomfortable.
Five Ocean View players were ejected from the game, three for what home plate umpire Stan Kukla called "flagrant disregard of the rules of player and coach conduct."
Ocean View Coach Bill Gibbons said his players were ejected "for a variety of reasons, some of which were questionable and dubious."
But Kukla maintains that each ejection was justified, and said the codes of good sportsmanship took a beating.
"The Ocean View players completely disrespected the rules and the officials," he said. "I'm writing a personal letter to the Ocean View athletic director, with a copy to Westminster and a copy to the CIF, asking for disciplinary action on three Ocean View players.
"I've been (umpiring) baseball games for nine years, and I've never seen conduct this disrespectful."
Gibbons didn't absolve his players of all guilt, but contended that Kukla overreacted.
"There were some things that were said that were wrong, there's no question about it," he said. "But the guy was out of control."
Westminster Coach Bill Whiteley agreed that things were out of control, but didn't blame the umpire.
Said Whiteley: "It was a set of circumstances when the (Ocean View) coaches obviously didn't have any control over their team in this game."
The problems reportedly began in the fourth inning, after a play at first base in which an Ocean View runner was ejected for "malicious contact" after colliding with a Westminster player. The ejection wasn't made immediately. It came after Whiteley appealed and asked Kukla to check with his umpiring partner for a ruling.
"At the time, I thought to myself, 'I've got malicious contact,' but I sort of backed away," Kukla said. "The Westminster coach did the proper thing. He called timeout, came out and asked for an appeal on malicious contact. I talked to my partner and we ruled that there had been malicious contact, and we ejected the player."
The decision didn't sit well with Ocean View players, according to Kukla. "After that, they were determined that they were going to run the ballgame," he said.
Gibbons said he could understand the first ejection. It was the four that followed that irked him.
"I'm going to do all I can to see that he's not officiating any more of our games," Gibbons said. "There's no reason to subject ourselves to that kind of situation. He doesn't deserve it, and we certainly don't either."
Said Kukla: "I don't penalize a whole team because of action of a few. Yes, I'd do their game again. And when we start the game, we start new. I don't bring what happened in the past into the present."
Time to regroup: The CIF Southern Section Playoff Groupings Committee will meet Thursday to review and make final recommendations for changes in the playoff structures for the next two years.
The committee's job is to place leagues into playoff groupings that are fair and equitable, but pleasing every school is difficult.
In making its recommended groupings, the committee enlisted the help of league representatives who made their recommendations. In a memo to member schools, Southern Section Commissioner Ray Plutko said those recommendations weren't exactly realistic.
"If this office were to follow all of the recommendations, the end result would be the playoff groupings would reflect virtually three leagues in 4-A, five leagues in 3-A, 22 leagues in 2-A, 16 leagues in 1-A and the balance in the small schools (division)," the memo read. "Needless to say, there has been a tremendous pleading by member leagues to move down in competition and win a CIF-SS Championship."
As a result, the committee devised its own recommendations. The most important of those affecting Orange County schools determines in what conference to put the Pacific Coast League, which will debut next year, and will consist of Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Orange, Trabuco Hills and Woodbridge.
Apparently, this was quite a dilemma for the committee, particularly in football.
If the committee's recommendations are adopted, the Pacific Coast League will join the Desert Mountain Conference for football.
The new league would be grouped with the Frontier, Los Padres, Santa Fe and Sunkist leagues for football. It would be placed in the 2-A division for boys' and girls' basketball, but in the Big Five Division for girls' volleyball, largely because of the presence of Laguna Beach and Woodbridge, both powers in the sport last season.
Other proposed revisions affecting county schools:
- The Sea View League would drop from 4-A to 3-A in boys' basketball.
- The Sierra League, which has often been matched against county schools in the Southern Conference football playoffs, would move to the Eastern Conference.