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Pitcher Released From Jail Following Brawl

Published: Thursday, July 24, 2008 @ 9:41 PM
Updated: Sunday, July 27, 2008 @ 11:35 AM

A 21-year-old pitcher for the Peoria Chiefs was released from jail on bond Saturday.

Julio Castillo was charged with felonious assault and officials said suspensions are coming against other players and managers involved in a brawl between the Dayton Dragons and the Peoria Chiefs Thursday night.

Castillo, from the Dominican Republic, also had to surrender his passport so he cannot leave the country.

The pitcher for the Peoria Chiefs is accused of throwing a ball that hit a fan sitting in the stands. The fan, a 44-year-old Middletown man was treated and released from Miami Valley Hospital.

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Thursday night's game at Fifth Third field came to a halt after words were exchanged and punches were thrown between the two teams.

A batter for the Chiefs was hit by a Dragons pitcher in the top of the first inning, but that half of the inning ended uneventfully.

However, things heated up in the bottom of the first. "The very first pitch was a wild pitch that went right over the catcher's head and to the backstop," said Kettering resident Judy Robinson, "he was just trying to throw the fastest thing he could."

Castillo hit at least two Dragons batters in that first inning and hit infielder Zach Cozart in the head. Cozart laid motionless on the field for several moments before being removed for medical treatment. Eventually, a runner for the Dragons tried to break up a double play by sliding hard into second base. The Chiefs apparently took exception to that and players and managers began arguing back and forth.

Dragons' manager Donnie Scott eventually left the third base coaching box to talk with the umpires. The Chiefs' interim manager, and former major-league player Carmelo Martinez, came out too and both managers began yelling at each other and the umpires.

Players from both teams began running onto the field and then Martinez shoved Scott.

Players from both teams headed for each other. Witnesses said that's when Castillo fired a fastball in the direction of the Dragons dugout. A Dragons player jumped on his back and the brawl was on.

The fight was very different from most baseball brawls, which often are made up of pushing and shoving. Players from both teams exchanged heavy punches in a melee that lasted for five minutes or more.

Dragons fan Greg Kooyman said, "It was the biggest brawl I've ever seen." Another fan, Mark Ricketts said, "There was a lot of good punches, baseballs were thrown, I didn't see a bat get thrown but someone said a bat got thrown."

As the fight ended, fans and team officials realized that the ball that Castillo threw at the Dragons dugout actually hit a fan sitting in the second row. That fan was placed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital for medical care. The fan's condition has not been released.

It took officials about an hour to restore order and decide on punishment. The umpires initially ejected both managers and 15 players in all. But officials from both teams consulted with the President of the Midwest League, of which both teams are members.

The ejections were placed in suspension and all players were allowed to continue until the conclusion of the game, eventually won by the Dragons 6-5.

Neither the Chiefs or the Dragons wanted to complete the game by using at least two pitchers in outfield positions, which both teams would have been forced to do. It's expected those ejections will be reinstated on Friday as the Midwest League hands out punishment.

Fans said the brawl was an ugly scene all the way around and it could have escalated even more.

Billy Snyder a fan apparently threw something towards the field that hit the pitcher, Castillo. Snyder said it was "A big soda and it hit him on the head, he grabbed a bat and was ready to jump over the wall into the stands but the coaches grabbed him."

Dayton Police were called to the ballpark and eventually arrested Castillo and booked him into the Montgomery County Jail for felonious assault.

It appears that Thursday night's wild fight may have been the result of bad blood brewing between the two teams for a couple days. During Wednesday night's game there were allegedly a trio of Chiefs hitters hit by Dragons pitchers.

The Dragons and the Chief ended a three-game series Friday night with no additional problems. The Dragons won 3-2.