JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Sullivan East’s baseball team has been reinstated to the playoffs following Saturday’s brawl between Elizabethton’s and Unicoi County’s teams.
According to Sullivan East Athletic Director Kim Carrier, the TSSAA will allow the Patriots, who were eliminated from the district tournament after losing to Tennessee High and Unicoi County, to move into the position of District 1 runner-up. It was up to the district to pick a runner-up to send to the regional tournament after the TSSAA ended Unicoi County’s and Elizabethton’s seasons.
Carrier said the team will now play Greeneville on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the first round of the region tournament played in Bristol.
“We knew this was a possibility, but we’re still surprised to get the news,” Carrier said in a text message to News Channel 11. “We hate that Unicoi County and Elizabethton’s seasons ended this way. We hate it for the coaches and the players. We humbly accept this opportunity to continue our baseball season.”
The TSSAA Board of Control held a special called meeting Tuesday afternoon to hear Unicoi County’s and Elizabethton’s appeals regarding disciplinary action resulting from the brawl.
Initially, Unicoi County’s baseball program was placed on restrictive probation for the remainder of the school year plus probation for the 2023-24 school year. Elizabethton was placed on restrictive probation for the remainder of the school year plus probation for two more years.
Unicoi withdrew its appeal for the restrictive probation and will only appeal the probation for the 2023-24 school year, according to the TSSAA. Elizabethton also withdrew its appeal for the restrictive probation and will only appeal the two years of additional probation.
Unicoi County Schools Superintendent John English told News Channel 11 that portion of the appeal was dropped because the players who left the dugout during the brawl were suspended for two games and they did not want to use underclassmen who had not played in two weeks.
The Board of Control ultimately decided that if both programs work on sportsmanship initiatives, it will consider lifting Unicoi County’s one-year probation and reducing Elizabethton’s from two years to one year.