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USC-Arizona State Baseball Fight Is Being Investigated

March 21, 1996|JIM HODGES and GEORGE DOHRMANN | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A fight between baseball players from Arizona State and USC in which two players were injured and Sun Devil pitching coach Bob Welch tangled with USC Coach Mike Gillespie is being investigated by the Pacific 10 Conference.

Jim Muldoon, associate commissioner of the conference, confirmed Tuesday that a probe of the Sunday incident at USC's Dedeaux Field was ongoing.

Welch's involvement, said Arizona State Coach Pat Murphy, came when he heard the words, "Have a drink. You're a drunk." Welch, who spent 18 years as a major league pitcher, 10 with the Dodgers, is a recovering alcoholic.

Gillespie said the fight started after Arizona State's Mikel Moreno ran into catcher Jeff DePippo after the final out of USC's 4-3 victory.

"That one thing started the fight," Gillespie said. "Anyone that denies that is flat lying."

USC players were already on the field to congratulate pitcher Jack Krawczyk. Arizona State players quickly joined them in skirmishes.

Five minutes later, the fight had ended and Arizona State's Damian Kolb was being treated for a black eye and USC's Brian Ponchak for a bloody nose.

Murphy said the fight was the result of words between players and fans all day, and the Sun Devils being angry at being swept in the three-game series.

"I'm not denying fault," Murphy said. "I'm saying that there is fault on both sides."

Gillespie said that he thought Welch was "going to bat for his kids," but Murphy said that he heard two people in uniform on the field taunt Welch about his bout with alcoholism.

"When he was on me it started with rage," Gillespie said. "He was out of control. He was screaming, wide-eyed, beyond furious. I'm sure it was in defense of his kids, but then again, it was fury."

Welch would not comment, but Murphy said Welch was incensed by the taunting.

"But he came in [Tuesday] and said, 'I don't know why I got so upset. I am an alcoholic, and I've been sober 16 years' "

Pac-10 punishment can range from letters of reprimand to suspensions, and Murphy said that he expected the latter.

The two teams play again April 26-28 in Tempe.

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