Things can get heated in the Southern League.
They boiled over on Friday night.
Five players and a manager were ejected following a pair of bench-clearing incidents in the ninth inning of Double-A Birmingham's 5-1 win at Jacksonville.
A collision between Birmingham's Jeremy Farrell and Jacksonville reliever Matt Ramsey sparked the initial disruption. Farrell scored from second on Luis Sierra's single and, as Ramsey moved to back up Suns catcher Austin Barnes, Farrell folded his arms in front of his body and appeared to bump into Ramsey.
"I saw exactly what happened. Ramsey was coming to back up home and then Farrell bumped into him and then said something to him to the effect of, 'Get out of the way,' or something ridiculous," Jacksonville manager Andy Barkett told the Suns' media team.
"It was really unprofessional by Farrell, in my opinion, for doing that. If you make contact with the pitcher, that's fine, but you don't need to turn around and say something."
Both teams assembled in a scrum in front of the visitors' dugout, but the contact appeared to be limited to pushing and shoving. The umpires and both coaching staffs were able to break it up and approximately a minute later the Suns returned to their positions on the field and the Barons went back into the dugout.
The umpiring crew of Ryan Additon, Matt McCoy and Jose Esteras alerted Barkett that Ramsey had been ejected along with Farrell, and Barkett put up a lengthy argument.
"They were ejecting Farell and then ejecting Ramsey. I didn't understand why they were ejecting Ramsey because he was doing his job covering home plate and was run into by their guy and then basically challenged by their guy," Barkett said.
"Farrell, to me, was the guy who instigated the whole thing, so I didn't see why Ramsey should be ejected from the game for basically minding his own business. And then he gets hit and then he gets talked smack to, so at that point, it's hard to just walk away."
After Barkett was ejected, he flung his cap in the direction of the umpires, then returned to his dugout and tossed two buckets of baseballs onto the field. He returned to usher Ramsey off the field, as several Suns infielders had surrounded the mound in a show of support for the hurler.
Shortly thereafter, Jacksonville first baseman Wilfredo Gimenez charged toward the Birmingham dugout. Both benches cleared again and several punches were thrown.
"I didn't know what happened at that point," Barkett said. "I just know that [Josh] Richmond sucker punched me in the side of the face, and he should get suspended for that childish and I don't know what you call it other than coward behavior, to just throw punches in the middle of a brawl, especially to an opposing manager."
The melee lasted less than a minute and resulted in the ejections of Gimenez, Richmond and Barons outfielder Michael Earley, who was not playing.
Barons manager Julio Vinas told the Florida Times-Union that the fracas was "just part of the game."
"If you have no passion for this game, then you don't belong in it," he said. "There's a lot of passion on their side, just like there is on our side. Sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us. It's just all part of the game.
"They were upset and our guys got upset. Things escalate. No one got seriously hurt in that we separated things fairly quickly. [Catcher Martin] Medina does have some blood in his eye and we're going to have to take him to the hospital and have it checked out."
Sixth-ranked White Sox prospect Trayce Thompson singled and scored a run for Birmingham, while Christian Marrero was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Barnes, the Marlins' No. 15 prospect, reached base twice and scored a run.
Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com.