A bench-clearing brawl ended Sunday’s regional championship game between Suffolk County Community College and Northern Essex Community College and cost one of the teams a trip to the Division III World Series, according to the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association.

Northern Essex, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, was leading 8-3 in the top of the ninth inning of Sunday’s District F title game when a Northern Essex batter charged the mound after pitch was thrown near his head.

“Both benches cleared like wildfire,” said Kevin Foley, the Suffolk CCC director of athletics. “It popped in an instant. There was no warning at all. It just exploded and got out of control immediately. It was mayhem.”

After a 15-minute delay, the umpires decided not to resume playing the game. If Northern Essex had held on to win, it would have been the school’s sixth straight trip to the NJCAA World Series.

Mark Krug, the assistant executive director for the NJCAA said, “both teams were notified by the national office that they violated the NJCAA sportsmanship policy and cannot participate in the championship event.”

Krug added, “Any player involved in the fight including players that left the bench will serve a two-game suspension next season. Both institutions will handle the eligibility of their players moving forward.”

Neither Northern Essex CC coordinator of athletics Sue MacAvoy nor assistant athletic director Maureen Saliba returned repeated calls seeking comment.

“It’s a tough lesson to learn,” Foley said. “But it’s in the bylaws of the NJCAA and a precedent was set years ago when a similar incident happened.

“If you leave the bench or the dugout and enter the field it’s an automatic two-game suspension,” Foley said. “Any players that were caught throwing a punch will get a four-game suspension. The umpires have at least four players from each team throwing punches in the report.”

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With no District F winner for the eight-team tournament and the NJCAA World Series starting on Friday in Greeneville, Tennessee, Krug said the national office went into its protocol for finding a replacement for the double forfeit.

“It’s a time-sensitive matter and we had to move forward and fill that spot and reseed the tournament,” he said. “It was a random assignment that we do through a yearly rotation to invite an at large team. This is done when a school can’t field a winner.”

Surry County CC of Dobson, North Carolina, who won the Region X title, but lost in its Super Regional, accepted the NJCAA invite to the tournament.