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Credit: www.mycentraljersey.com

PISCATAWAY — Dave Delnegro III literally took his umpiring job into his own hands while calling balls and strikes at a Little League game between 8- and 11-year-olds on Friday night.

According to Piscataway police and Piscataway Little League President Frank Uhrin, the 21-year-old Delnegro punched Joe Bellamy in the face several times after a brief exchange during the second inning of the game between the minor-league Astros and Mets, played before approximately 50 fans.

Bellamy, 40, who coaches the Astros, did not strike back, citing the code of conduct. Police responded to the Little League complex on Sidney Road at approximately 8:50 p.m. and, after a brief investigation, issued a Simple Assault at a Youth Sporting Event summons to Delnegro. No Municipal Court date has been set. Delnegro is claiming self-defense.

“The first thing was to not get physical with him because of the kids’ sake,” Bellamy said. “At no time did I even think about hitting him back. I didn’t want to make it worse.”

Uhrin, who was at the complex but did not witness the altercation, said that Delnegro was “rushing the two teams to get on the field to start the game because the first game ended a little late.

“Joe (Bellamy) didn’t mind,” Uhrin said. “He understood.”

However, when Delnegro called a pitch that bounced in front of the catcher a strike, Bellamy went on the field to discuss it.

“Joe said to him (Delnegro), ‘You’re cheating the kids. Before he knew it, the umpire punched him four times. His face was full of blood and I asked what happened? He said, ‘The umpire punched me.

“I’ve seen bumping between guys, but never anything like this.”

The umpire has a different version of the altercation.

Delnegro, through his attorney, Jordan Rikards, issued the following written statement: “Mr. Delnegro was initially reluctant to umpire in Piscataway, having been previously warned about the unusually volatile nature of certain coaches and fans in that township.

“In fact, Mr. Delnegro’s father is also a little league umpire, and was greatly concerned for his son’s safety and well-being in Piscataway. Their concerns proved to be well-founded.