Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic booked berths in the second round of the World Baseball Classic, while Canada battled their way past Mexico in a game marred by a ninth-inning brawl.
Michael Saunders went four-for-four and Justin Morneau drove in three runs as Canada routed Mexico 10-3 in a Pool D contest that saw seven players ejected following a benches-clearing fight.
One of those was Mexico pitcher Arnold Leon, who drilled Canada batter Rene Tosoni in the right scapula, leading to the brawl with Canada leading 9-3 in the top of the ninth inning.
The wild scene came moments after Canada catcher Chris Robinson began the inning with a bunt single. That prompted Mexico third baseman Luis Cruz to apparently tell Leon to throw at the next batter, Tosoni.
After being hit, Tosoni walked towards the mound and both benches emptied.
Cruz, who plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers, threw the first punch at a Canada player and the fists started flying. Cruz was not thrown out of the game.
Canada pitching coach Denis Boucher was hit in the face by a bottle thrown by Mexican fans, who were standing behind the dugout hurling objects at the players and coaches, including baseballs.
Canada batting coach Larry Walker said he tried to act as a peacemaker and at the height of the brawl he grabbed Mexico’s Alfredo Aceves, who plays for the Boston Red Sox.
“I think I saw Satan in his eyes,” Walker said.
By the time play resumed, four Mexican players — Leon, Oliver Perez, Eduardo Arredondo and Aceves — and three Canadian players — Tosoni, Pete Orr and Jay Johnson — had been thrown out.
Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic guaranteed their spots in the second round in Miami with 6-3 wins on Saturday.
Angel Pagan went three-for-five as Puerto Rico surprised the favored Venezuela team.
Starting pitcher Nelson Figueroa allowed five hits and two runs over the first four innings, before Giovanni Soto came in and shut Venezuela down over the next three innings in front of a crowd of 18,741 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.
In the earlier Pool C contest in Puerto Rico, Carlos Santana smacked a home run and Robinson Cano went three-for-five to spark the Dominican Republic over Spain.
The US beat Italy 6-2 in the late game and were to close out the round-robin play yesterday with a winner-take-all game against Canada, with the victor advancing to Miami.