Hitter swings bat at catcher, touches off brawl in Venezuelan playoffs

Sporting News

The Venezuelan winter league playoff series between Aguilas and Caribes took a violent turn Wednesday night when former MLB outfielder Alex Romero swung his bat twice at the opposing catcher, setting off an all-out brawl.

Romero, playing for Aguilas, was retaliating for Caribes pitcher Angel Nesbitt throwing behind and hitting him on a 3-0 count with Caribes leading 13-1 in the eighth inning. He took two hacks at Gabriel Lino, who responded by throwing his mitt at Romero's head. The benches and bullpens quickly rushed to the area around home plate. Another player eventually threw Lino's mask toward Romero.

Twins catcher/infielder Willians Astudillo, playing first base for Caribes, rushed in and attempted a martial arts kick. He was ejected for trouble. Nesbitt, Romero and Lino were also tossed, as was Caribes shortstop Cesar Valera.

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Nesbitt, in fact, threw behind Romero twice during the plate appearance, in apparent retaliation for Valera being plunked in the bottom of the seventh after back-to-back home runs by Niuman Romero and Alexi Amarista. The Valera HBP resulted in three ejections.

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The ejections didn't stop with the brawl, however. Caribes pitcher Luis Rengel was tossed two batters later for hitting Engelb Vielma with a pitch.

Counting a separate ejection earlier in the seventh inning, 10 people, including Caribes manager Jackson Melian, were tossed from Game 5 of this quarterfinal series. Caribes won the four-hour, 50-minute game 13-2 to remain alive in the best-of-seven. Game 6 will be Saturday.

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