TAMPA — Jesuit High School's baseball tradition runs deep.
The school regularly fields one of the top teams in the state, and many players go on to stellar college or even Major League Baseball careers. When things go awry, support from parents and fans doesn't fade or waver.
Wednesday night's away game against Robinson High, a tight contest that ended with Jesuit winning 5-3 in eight innings, was no exception. An exuberant crowd of Jesuit High baseball supporters attended their team's game a day after it became public that the school had suspended nine players.
“We support the kids,” said Kennie Taylor, whose son, Kennie Taylor Jr., is a junior at the school and doubled against the right field fence in the early innings. “All the parents are here to support the team.”
The players are facing the circumstance and doing the best they can, he said.
“It's an unusual situation for the kids,” he said. “I think they're handling it as well as teenagers would handle something like this.”
Over the school's spring break, the team took a trip from March 15-18 during which they played Pensacola Catholic and then went to New Orleans to play two games. During the trip, the school say, some players broke school rules and were suspended for the rest of the season.
School officials aren't elaborating on which rules were broken and who broke them.
Several players who had signed to play college ball are no longer on the roster.
Jorge Ramirez, whose son, Ronnie Ramirez, started on the mound for Jesuit on Wednesday night, said it's tough not to see players on the field who have been a part of the team. The team, though, will weather the problems, he said.
“The depth of the Jesuit program will allow them to field a competitive team,” he said. “A lot of young kids are getting opportunities they wouldn't have.”
“Kids broke rules,” he said. “We all have to live by rules.”