The Dodgers and D-backs have had on-field fireworks in recent meetings at the Major League level. On Saturday night, that rivalry filtered down to the Pacific Coast League.
Nine players and Triple-A Reno manager Phil Nevin were ejected Saturday night following a bench-clearing fracas in the second inning of the Aces' 7-3 victory over visiting Albuquerque.
Isotopes third baseman Erisbel Arruebarrena, who homered in Friday's series opener and followed it with a lengthy trot around the bases, took exception to a pitch close to his body in his first trip to the plate on Saturday. After striking out against Aces starter Mike Bolsinger, Arruebarrena shoved Reno catcher Blake Lalli, sparking both benches to empty.
"It was just one of those unfortunate incidents that happen in baseball sometimes," Reno manager Phil Nevin said. "It looked like it was going to be one of those normal things where you come out and guys just stand around a little bit, but whenever you have somebody come fly into the pile and throw punches, things happen. It just escalated from there."
The situation quickly spiraled into a melee behind home plate, with punches being thrown by both sides and several players being pushed into the netting, the only thing separating them from the first row of seats at Aces Ballpark.
"I think that's kind of my job, to break things up," Nevin said. "I'm too old for that stuff. It was pretty tough for me to get guys away when guys are throwing bats and helmets at people. It's tough to keep guys off of other guys."
After the two sides separated, the umpiring crew of Brian Hertzog, Shaun Lampe and Thomas Newsom conferred and handed out 10 ejections, including Arruebarrena, Lalli and Nevin.
"Honestly, I think they did a good job," Nevin said. "I understand where they're coming from, they've got a job to do. It's hard to see everybody, what's happening. I just took exception to my catcher being thrown out. We lost three guys from our lineup, and I didn't have that many guys out there to begin with. I just took exception to that. That was all.
"It's understandable on their part. They're just looking for numbers and they just happen to see somebody at the wrong time, see the number on the back, and they have to pick those guys out. It just happened to be a few guys in my lineup."
Reno pitchers Andrew Chafin and Kameron Loe, left fielder Aaron Cunningham and first baseman Mike Jacobs also were tossed. Albuquerque lost shortstop Walter Ibarra and pitchers Carlos Frias and Yimi Garcia.
The brawl came one night after a similar incident in the Southern League involving the Birmingham Barons and Jacksonville Suns in which six players were ejected.
Thanks to a three-run first inning, the Aces were able to hold on to their early lead. Hitting coach Greg Gross took over managerial duties for Nevin and, despite having to replace three members of his lineup, held things together.
"They did a fine job," Nevin said. "Fortunately, we got out to a lead and were able to keep that. Bolsinger did a good job on the mound. Our bullpen came in and did a good job and got some add-on runs late that helped."
Bolsinger (6-1) allowed two runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out six in 5 2/3 innings to pick up the win.
Andy Marte and Bobby Wilson, who replaced Lalli, drove in two runs apiece for Reno, while Clint Robinson went 4-for-5 with two RBIs for Albuquerque.