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Pitcher: I threw at dugout, not fans

DAYTON, Ohio -- A minor-league pitcher accused of throwing a
baseball that injured a fan in Ohio testified Thursday that he
threw the ball downward toward a dugout to try to keep opposing
players from rushing the field during an on-field melee.

Julio Castillo, 22, of the Dominican Republic, was pitching for
the Peoria Chiefs against the Dayton Dragons when the
bench-clearing brawl broke out last July. A fan in the stands
suffered a concussion after getting struck by a ball Castillo
threw; he has pleaded not guilty to felonious assault.

Testifying in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Castillo
said he had been having pitching control problems earlier in the
game, became frightened as the brawl began, and did not throw at an
opposing player or with the intention of hitting anyone.

"I saw that the players with the Dragons were coming," the
Spanish-speaking Castillo said, testifying through a translator.
"I was nervous and frightened. I threw the ball in front of the
dugout to see if they would go back. I didn't throw it to hit
anyone."

Under cross-examination by assistant Montgomery County
prosecutor Tracey Ballard Tangeman, Castillo acknowledged that he
threw the ball hard and that it went into the stands.

Castillo is now on the roster of the Boise Hawks, a Class A
affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, but is not allowed to play. The Cubs
are awaiting the outcome of the trial to determine whether his
status will change.

In the previous game before the brawl, three Peoria batters had
been hit by pitches. In the next game, a Peoria player was hit in
the top of the first inning, then Castillo hit two Dayton batters
in the bottom half - one in the head. The second batter hit by
Castillo, Angel Cabrerra, made an aggressive slide into second to
break up a double play.

Castillo followed that by throwing his next pitch up-and-in,
prompting Dayton manager Donnie Scott to complain to the home plate
umpire. Interim Peoria manager Carmelo Martinez came onto the field
to join the discussion. The two managers began arguing, and when
Martinez pushed Scott, the benches emptied.

Video from the game shows Castillo throwing a ball, but doesn't
show where the ball landed.

Officials in the Midwest League suspended and fined 15 players,
including Castillo, and both managers for the fight.