A Venezuelan winter league baseball game that featured flaring tempers and ejections spiraled out of control in the eighth inning Wednesday when a former MLB player, incensed after being struck by a pitch, turned on the catcher and hit him with his bat.

Alex Romero, a former MLB outfielder playing for Águilas del Zulia, hit Gabriel Lino of Caribes de Anzoátegui twice with his bat, and the benches for both teams immediately emptied, with players punching and kicking each other as fighting nearly carried into the stands. Caribes pitcher Angel Nesbitt, along with teammates Lino, shortstop Cesar Valera and catcher Willians Astudillo, were ejected, as was Águilas’s Romero. With the ejections of Lino and Astudillo, who plays for the Minnesota Twins, Caribes had no catchers and team captain Niuman Romero caught the rest of the game.

The brawl came after three players and Caribes Manager Jackson Melian had gotten the heave-ho the previous inning. After Niuman Romero and Alexi Amarista hit back-to-back home runs for Caribes, Valera was hit by a pitch and the benches cleared. Order was restored, or so it appeared, until the next inning.

Five batters were struck by pitches in the game and nine were ejected, with fines and suspensions likely. The most heavily punished likely will be Romero, who played in 144 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks between 2008 and 2009. Caribes won the day’s “undercard” by a 13-2 score.

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