PHOENIX (AP) — A fierce brawl that saw Alfredo Aceves and several players throw nasty punches erupted Saturday in the ninth inning of Canada’s 10-3 romp over Mexico in the World Baseball Classic in a melee that also involved fans.
Multiple fights broke out after Canada’s Rene Tosoni was hit in the back by a pitch from Arnold Leon with the score 9-3 at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. It quickly turned into a wild scene, as chaotic as any on a major league field in recent years.
Even when the fisticuffs ended, Canadian pitching coach Denis Boucher was hit in the face by a full water bottle thrown from the crowd. Canada shortstop Cale Iorg angrily threw the bottle back into the crowd.
Several police officers came onto the field trying to restore order, and there were a few skirmishes in the decidedly pro-Mexico crowd of 19,581. Seven players were ejected after umpires huddled, trying to sort out the frenzy.
There had already been several borderline plays on the bases when things got out of hand. A bunt single by Chris Robinson heightened the tension — a WBC tiebreaker relies heavily on runs and the Canadians wanted to score. Third baseman Luis Cruz fielded Robinson’s bunt and seemed to tell Leon to hit a batter.
Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Morneau and Joey Votto were among the big-name, high-priced stars playing in the game. The fight was exactly the kind of thing that must have made major league managers and general managers cringe at the thought of one of their players getting hurt in such a fracas.
Aceves was among four Mexican players thrown out — the angry Boston reliever was tossed to the ground by Philadelphia minor league outfielder Tyson Gillies during the height of the altercation, then rushed to rejoin the fray.
Also ejected were Leon, Oliver Perez and Eduardo Arredondo of Mexico and Tosoni, Pete Orr and Jay Johnson of Canada. A statement from WBC organizers said tape of the incident would be reviewed for possible disciplinary action.
All in all, it was far from the worldwide goodwill that is supposed to accompany this competition, where players exchange team hats with opponents before the start of each game as a sign of sportsmanship.
A day earlier on the same field, Mexico posted an emotional 5-2 over the United States in a game without incident. Canada, meanwhile, absorbed an embarrassing 14-4 loss to Italy.
Mexico finished its Pool D play at 1-2. Canada is 1-1 going into a game Sunday against the United States.
Canada scored four times in the first inning, and Mexico cut the lead to 4-3 with two runs in the fourth.
Karim Garcia, Edgar Gonzalez and pinch hitter Sebastian Valle started the inning with singles. Garcia tried to score from second on Valle’s single and was thrown out from center field by Gillies.
Robinson, the catcher, held on to the ball in a collision with Garcia down the third-base line. Garcia never did touch the plate.
Gil Velazquez followed with an RBI double and Arrendondo’s sacrifice fly cut Canada’s lead to one.
Robinson’s hard slide into second broke up a potential double play and allowed a run to score in a two-run seventh inning that put the Canadians ahead 7-3.
Morneau, who had four hits and drove in three runs, doubled in a run, then Michael Saunders walked and Robinson was hit in the foot by a pitch. With one out, pinch hitter Jimmy Van Ostrand grounded to second.
But Robinson took the legs out from Velazquez at shortstop to prevent the relay throw and a run scored.
All that led up to the ninth, with Mexico trailing badly and facing possible elimination despite the big win over the United States.
One pitch came close to Tosoni and the next one hit him in the back. He dropped the bat and walked toward the mound.
Then the players all rushed onto the field. Some just shoved, other threw wild haymakers. And just when it seemed things would calm down, more skirmishes ensued.
When the bottle was thrown from behind the Canadian dugout, one Canada player had to be restrained from going into the stands.
Several fans were escorted away by security personnel and play was stopped again briefly when a ball was thrown onto the field with Canada still at bat in the ninth, narrowly missing first base coach Larry Walker.