On a night celebrating the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, there was absolutely no peace or love between the Winnipeg Goldeyes (47-34) and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (49-33) in a 13-4 RedHawks trouncing.
The tensions between the rivals came to a head in the top of the fourth inning when RedHawks manager Doug Simunic punched Goldeyes coach Tom Vaeth in the face twice. Vaeth appeared to reach towards Simunic before being punched, but it was difficult to see whether he made contact. Both teams cleared their benches, but no further haymakers were tossed.
Vaeth and Simunic were both ejected.
After the game, Vaeth wouldn't comment on who started the altercation, but confirmed that Simunic did land "a punch, slap, whatever you want to call it." Simunic said that Vaeth "showed up close to my face. I didn't like him that close to me."
The seeds were planted when a curveball from Fargo starter Garry Bakker plunked Goldeyes slugger Kevin West's helmet in the bottom of the third. Bakker had thrown behind West in his at-bat, but appeared to apologize. Goldeyes starter Ace Walker threw behind Nic Jackson with his first pitch of the fourth, which began the scuffle between Vaeth and Simunic.
In the game itself, the RedHawks tattooed Walker (9-6) for eight runs in four-plus innings.
Don't be alarmed if the Winnipeg Goldeyes' bench looks a little thinner than normal for this homestand.
Starting pitchers Bear Bay and Mark Michael remained in the Chicagoland area after Sunday's 5-2 extra-inning win over the Gary SouthShore RailCats, as the Fish will be right back in the Windy City to face the Schaumburg Flyers on Thursday. Michael and Bay pitched on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and weren't going to be called upon to face the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
"They're trying to avoid the bus rides, that's all," said Goldeyes manager Rick Forney. "There was no point in them riding the bus over 30 hours back to Winnipeg and then back to Chicago if they weren't going to play here for us."
Forney has been doing nearly everything possible in order to keep his starters as fresh as possible. Monday's starter, Ace Walker, flew back to Winnipeg on Saturday to get some extra rest and relaxation before kicking off a first-place battle with Fargo.
Fellow starter Andrew Cruse wouldn't directly admit being jealous of Walker's flight, but said that flying would be the ideal way to travel.
"Everybody wants to fly," said Cruse. "It's pretty important (for Walker) at this late point in the season. It lets him get a couple extra days of rest."
Another piece of manna that Forney has tossed to the rotation is Bill Pulsipher, who was signed on Aug. 4, expanding the rotation from four to five. In addition to winning his first three starts, Pulsipher has allowed for an extra day of rest for the beleaguered starters.
"It was pretty important. We were pretty short-handed on the pitching staff and I wanted to add another starter to the rotation, preferably a left-hander," said Forney. "He (Bill) was available and so far it's turned out to be a very good signing."
Cruse said that the extra day off has allowed him to pitch a bullpen session in between starts to help stay fresh.
"Usually, when I pitch a bullpen, I throw about 30 pitches," said Cruse, 25. "It allows you to keep your muscle memory."
Cruse started about half of the games he appeared in while in the Philadelphia Phillies system from 2006-2008, but only 11 of 33 last season.
"I've been holding up pretty good," said Cruse, who is 5-5 with a 4.81 ERA this season. "You just have to make sure you get all your work in between starts."