Police in New Westminster are searching for a man accused of beating a teenager with a metal baseball bat after a soccer ball rolled onto the road and in front of a car.

The boy and three friends were playing with the ball as they walked home along the 700 block of 20th Street on Friday at about 8 p.m., when it somehow ended up on the road, crossing paths with a passing car, according to Sgt. Jeff Scott.

"It's unsure how the ball got out onto the road, but at that point, the car pulled over and a passenger inside the car allegedly got out," Scott told CBC News.

Police say the man chased the teenagers until he caught up with one of them, striking the boy several times. The teen had to be taken to hospital for treatment. He has been released in the meantime and is at home with his family.

"What's concerning is this gross overreaction on the part of the motorist," Scott said. "We're appealing to witnesses or anybody who might have information about this incident to please come forward."

Scott could only offer a very basic description of the suspect, who was said to be a bald white man wearing blue jeans and a blue T-shirt. He was a passenger in a darker coloured four-door sedan that may have been either a Honda or a Nissan.

Police are investigating the incident as an assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm, according to Scott.

Anyone with information about the assault is asked to call the New Westminster Police Department at 604-525-5411.