MANATEE -- Sean Trent delivered a momentous home run and retreated to the equipment room in State College of Florida's dugout.
When he popped out, the redshirt freshman transfer from the University of Florida witnessed a melee on the field and wasn't sure what started things.
"I honestly didn't see what happened," Trent said. "I walked out and saw Connor Oliver getting held back by somebody trying to get away, so I went and grabbed him and brought him back to the dugout. That's all I really saw."
What occurred was this: Trent's three-run home run armed SCF with a lead that the Manatees (25-8 overall, 9-1 conference) eventually converted into a 9-8 victory over Hillsborough Community College in a Suncoast Conference game Friday at Robert C. Wynn Field.
Then Hawks pitcher Matt Wynne plunked SCF's Connor Oliver with a pitch in the back, and the benches began to clear from both sides.
It took a turn for the worse when Oliver was pushed by an HCC player or coach. HCC assistant coach Kevin Clark, a former SCF standout, was later ejected alongside Wynne and HCC starting catcher Tyler Sanchez. SCF leadoff hitter and second baseman Orlando Rivera (2-for-4, two runs, RBI) joined catcher Andrew Widell on the departure list for the Manatees.
"College baseball is different than the pro game," SCF head coach Tim Hill II said. "And that's what gets done with the pro guys. You're going to pluck a guy when someone goes deep or something like that. But the college is game is different. ... The umpire was right on top of it. ... It was very disappointing that Kevin chose to behave that way. You'd think an alumnus would have more respect for the program than that." The length of suspension for the ejected players and Clark was not known at press time.
With Rivera and Widell gone, Hill II was forced to make some defensive adjustments that sent LSU-bound sophomore Connor Hale from his starting position of third base to first base as former Manatee High star Trevor Beeman entered in Rivera's slot.
Fellow Hurricane alum Bryan Voelkl replaced Widell.
The defensive changes turned into an almost nightmarish ending for SCF, which picked up its 11th victory in its last 12 games.
The Manatees committed five errors in the seventh inning as the Hawks plated three runs on one hit to cut the deficit to 9-8.
But that was the closest HCC would get, despite loading the bases in the eighth inning against SCF closer Devin Raftery.
Raftery escaped the two-out jam by inducing Trevor Freeman into a flyout before working a spotless ninth that gave the Manatees the victory.
"That's one thing that we try to preach is that if somebody is going to beat us, make them earn it," Hill II said. "We've got to minimize freebies to the other team. We got a little sloppy that inning. But to the guys' credit, we held on and got the outs when needed to get them out."