Screenshot from Twitter

College Baseball Player Ejected For Sandwich Celebration Because of NCAA 'Prop' Rule

Although baseball games are getting faster, it's safe to assume you'll get hungry while playing. That seems to be the case for college baseball slugger Jacob Starling of East Carolina University, but it came with a cost.

ECU was playing the University of Southern Florida on Tuesday and was down 2-0 in the first inning. Starling came up to bat and hit a solo homer to left field. He didn't do a bat flip or any other whacky celebration.

What he did was run the bases, reach home, high-five teammates and take a bite out of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from teammate and pitcher Josh Grosz.

That moment came as Starling ran through a gauntlet of his teammates on both sides of him. Looking to the right side of said gauntlet, Starling spotted Grosz, said sandwich, and took a bite. After all, he hit a home run. Why not enjoy a bite to eat?

Here's the home run and sandwich-eating in question:


OK, perhaps you missed it. Let's look at another video that focuses on Starling and Grosz, also known as (and I'm calling them this) the "sandwich bandits."

Well, as we mentioned, this came with a cost. The home plate umpire spotted this celebration "travesty" and ejected Grosz, who's now suspended for his next game, on Thursday, May 25. Grosz, for what it's worth, is also one of ECU's best pitchers; he has a 3.49 ERA in 69 2/3 innings this season.

Perhaps the most significant controversy with this — aside from the ridiculous ejection and suspension — is that there are conflicting reports on whether it was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a hot dog. This could also prompt a sidebar on whether a hot dog is a sandwich.

So many questions here.

As you can see in the photo below, Grosz appears to be menacingly gripping the culprit — which, to my untrained eye, appears to be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but I digress.

ECU Head Coach: Umpire Said They Violated NCAA 'Prop' Rule


ECU head coach Jeff Goodwin spoke to reporters after the game, explaining why Grosz was ejected. He didn't seem thrilled about the ejection.

"Unfortunately we had a player get ejected for giving him a sandwich," Goodwin said. "They called that a prop, which is a first for us. That's the new rules I guess. No fun baseball. Because Grosz was actually available for us out of the bullpen today and we could've used another guy out of the bullpen."

Upon some NCAA rulebook changes introduced for the 2023 season, Goodwin is correct. The NCAA bans the use of "celebratory props":

"After a home run, scoring play or at the end of a half inning, teams shall not bring celebratory props onto the field of play. Celebratory props must remain in the team dugout during competition. Rationale: This proposal is intended to minimize potential acts of unsportsmanlike conduct directed at opposing teams or players on the field of play," the rule reads.

Screenshot from NCAA

Technically, it makes sense the sandwich was considered a celebratory prop. But it feels like there should be some wiggle room to this call, because context matters. It's clear ECU was simply celebrating the home run, not performing some act of unsportsmanlike conduct at the pitcher.

East Carolina would go on to lose this game in extra innings. The Pirates gave up six runs in the bottom of the ninth (probably because they were hungry) and lost 12-11 in the 11th inning.

Joking aside, these umpires need to relax and have some fun. It's a sandwich.

MORE: College Baseball Player Ejected For Monster Bat Flip, Sparking Fan Outrage