Curve involved in brawl
MANCHESTER, N.H. – A major brawl that included plenty of punches and led to lots of ejections broke out between the Curve and New Hampshire on Wednesday night.
The bench-clearing brawl took place at the start of the seventh inning in a game Altoona eventually lost, 6-5, at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. Three Curve players wound up getting ejected, while five Fisher Cats players and manager Bobby Meacham were tossed.
The bad feelings began in the top of the sixth when Altoona’s Stetson Allie, who had homered two innings earlier, was hit in the back by a pitch from New Hampshire starter Daniel Norris.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Curve appeared to retaliate when starter Zack Dodson hit Andy Burns, leading to both benches being warned.
Jarek Cunningham came up to the plate leading off the seventh inning for the Curve, and the second pitch he saw from Arik Sikula was high and behind his head.
Cunningham immediately slammed down his bat and helmet and charged the mound, going after Sikula. The pitcher took a few steps to his left to avoid getting hit, which allowed time for his infielders to charge in and tackle Cunningham as both benches cleared.
There were punches thrown from both sides during the melee, which didn’t last long but did include several isolated fights taking place in different areas on the infield.
Once order was cleared after a 20-minute delay, Cunningham, the Curve’s third baseman, was ejected, along with second baseman Gift Ngoepe and center fielder Keon Broxton.
New Hampshire was hit harder as Meacham and the following players were tossed: pitcher Sikula, first baseman K.C. Hobson, first baseman Yusuf Carter off the bench, DH Mike McDade and reliever Dustin Antolin off the bench.
After the brawl, Allie was tended to by Curve trainer Mike Zalno and did not remain in the game, but he was not ejected. It’s unclear if he was injured in some way during the fracas.
The Curve were leading at the time of the brawl, 4-3, but once again the bullpen was not able to protect a late lead and blew yet another save. New Hampshire scored three runs in the eighth inning off Matt Benedict (0-4) to take a 6-4 lead.
Altoona rallied in its final at-bat, getting in good position to tie or take the lead as it loaded the bases with no outs. The Curve only managed one run, though, which scored when Andy Vasquez hit into a double play.
Altoona had the tying run at third with two outs, but Ralph Henriquez struck out against Gregory Infante to end the game.
Scott Gracey (2-2) won in relief for New Hampshire, while Infante earned his sixth save.
SUBHD: Game recap
Key player: 2B Jon Berti drove in three runs for New Hampshire, including a go-ahead two-run single in the eighth.
Key play: A bench-clearing brawl erupted when Curve 3B Jarek Cunningham charged the mound after having a pitch thrown behind his head in the seventh inning.
Key stat: Eight players and Fisher Cats manager Bobby Meacham were ejected.
SUBHD: How they scored
Top 2nd: Diaz solo homer (1-0).
Top 4th: Diaz walked, scored on Allie two-run homer (3-0).
Bottom 4th: Wilson singled, scored on Burns two-run homer (3-2).
Top 5th: Garcia doubled, scored on Norris wild pitch (4-2).
Bottom 6th: Flores singled, scored on Berti double play groundout (4-3).
Bottom 8th: Chung singled, Wilson reached on Diaz error, both scored on Berti single (4-5); Nolan bases-loaded walk scorer Berti (4-6).
Top 9th: Curry singled, scored on Vasquez double play groundout (5-6).