The rivalry between Class AA Bowie and Eastern League foe Erie has taken on a bitter edge in the past month.
After a bench-clearing brawl on June 8 and a frightening collision at home plate Thursday night that led to two ejections, there was unusual tension last night before the second of a four-game series in Bowie.
"Today just feels different," said Mike Antonellis, Erie's play-by-play broadcaster. "The backlash from [Thursday] night, is something going to happen. . . . I've done full seasons for eight years, and I've never felt like this."
The June 8 brawl was sparked when Bowie catcher Octavio Martinez collided with Erie pitcher Rick Kirsten, who was covering home plate. Kirsten, who took a knee to the head, suffered a concussion. Three Erie players and Martinez ended up with suspensions.
Thursday, in the fourth inning, Bowie first baseman Walter Young was hit by a pitch from Erie ace Wilfredo Ledezma. He advanced to second on a walk and later tried to score off a single by Mike Huggins. The 6-foot-5, 298-pound Young crashed into the 6-0, 175-pound Max St. Pierre at the plate. St. Pierre hit the back of his head on home plate and was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center. He was released early yesterday with a third-degree concussion.
"I didn't see any malice or intent to hurt or harm anybody," Bowie Manager Dave Trembley said. "Unfortunately, somebody did get hurt, and you never like to see that happen."
Umpires warned both teams about retaliation, so Erie pitcher Alex Lontayo was immediately ejected after he threw inside to Young in the eighth inning.
Erie Manager Rick Sweet, who was also ejected Thursday night, held a team meeting before last night's game but would not comment about it other than to say, "This is not a normal baseball situation." He also talked with Trembley and several other members of the Bowie and Erie organizations before the game.