Nuts brawl, then fall to Ports

June 8, 2008 

There were some plays to remember in Stockton's 10-5 victory over Modesto on Saturday night, including some long home runs and great defensive work.

By sometime this afternoon, all the gathering of 3,563 will remember is the largest brawl since John Thurman Field was remodeled for the 1997 season -- an on-field scuffle that resulted in eight ejections.

Here's the play-by-play:

Stockton's Darryl Lawhorn led off the top of the fifth with a line-drive home run, giving the Ports a 9-1 lead.

On the very next pitch, Modesto starter Aneury Rodriguez hit Matt Sulentic in the ribs with a 91 mph fastball and was immediately ejected. Sulentic never took a step toward the mound, but was gesturing and barking at Rodriguez while being escorted to first base.

And once there, Sulentic had to be restrained by a Ports coach while continuing to yell and point at Rodriguez as the pitcher walked back to the Nuts' clubhouse.

Order was restored, and home plate umpire Daniel Oliver issued a formal bean-ball warning to both dugouts as Brandon Durden took the mound for the Nuts.

Archie Gilbert, the next hitter, stroked a potential double-play ground ball to shortstop that was booted by Daniel Mayora. Sulentic, in a position to break up the double play, did so hard, with spikes raised. The collision with Jason Van Kooten was violent enough to flip the Nuts' second baseman, and Van Kooten landed atop Sulentic eight feet past second base.

Sulentic used his arms and legs to push Van Kooten away, and the two immediately began exchanging punches.

Both benches and bullpens emptied. Rodriguez, who had returned to the clubhouse and removed his jersey, sprinted back onto the field to join the fracas.

Sulentic was forced away from the mob by Ports' manager Darren Bush, but another series of fists flew in the mosh pit around second base.

Order finally was restored, but Bush, Modesto manager Jerry Weinstein and both umpires met on the infield for 25 minutes to determine which players would be allowed to continue playing.

Durden began throwing to stay warm, only to discover he was one of the players ejected. Van Kooten and Mayora also were shipped to the clubhouse, as was designated hitter Nick Haley, one of many Nuts to leave the dugout.

The Ports also lost four players, including Sulentic, catcher Raul Padron, and two players not in the game: outfielder Jermaine Mitchell and pitcher Jose Fragoso.

All players ejected for their involvement in the brawl will face fines and suspension from the California League. Several of those allowed to remain in the game for the purpose of having enough players to finish the game also will face fines and suspensions.

The league has a policy of handing down punishment as soon as possible following incidents, so the Nuts and Ports -- who meet again today and Monday and 13 more times in the second half of the season -- could receive suspension notices by the end of this series.

Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at bvanderbeek@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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