If the Carolina Mudcats were looking for a rival in their first year in the Carolina League, they may have found one in the Winston-Salem Dash on Thursday night.
Dash starter Justin Collop plunked Ronny Rodriguez with a pitch to open the second inning, and the floodgates opened. Rodriguez -- the Indians' No. 5 prospect -- immediately stormed the mound with his bat still in hand, causing both benches to empty onto the Five County Stadium diamond.
Both players were ejected for their roles in the ensuing brawl along with Indians' No. 19 prospect Jesus Aguilar, who was also hit by a Collop offering with two outs in the first.
Bryan Blough took over for Collop and tossed five shutout innings, allowing six hits and two walks while striking out three, to lead the Dash to a 7-0 shutout of the Mudcats. Trayce Thompson and Cyle Hankerd contributed a homer and two RBIs apiece while Hankerd finished a triple shy of the cycle.
Thursday's game marked the end to a four-game series that the two teams split 2-2. Each of those games featured at least one hit batsman, but it was unclear if that had a direct effect on the finale's proceedings.
Rodriguez is batting .268 with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs through 92 games for the Mudcats this season. Aguilar was hitting .291 with 11 blasts and 47 RBIs in 87 contests. The Venezuela native was the starting first baseman for the World Team in this year's Futures Game, going 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored in the showcase.
Collop was making his ninth start of the season in 22 appearances. The 24-year-old right-hander is 7-2 with a 3.93 ERA in his second season with the Dash.