The 'disgusting' act of poor sportsmanship that has America fuming

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

A 20-year-old rising star has become the victim of a ‘completely classless’ act that has fans furious, including some in Australia.

You probably haven’t heard the name Ronald Acuna Jr, but he’s the talk of the baseball world right now.

The Atlanta Braves rookie has been in scintillating form lately, spending the last few days hammering Miami Marlins pitching.

Acuna has led-off each of the first three games of the four-game series with a home run, and has homered in a Braves record-tying five straight games.

Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 (R) of the Atlanta Braves reacts to being hit by the first pitch of the game against the Miami Marlins at SunTrust Park on August 15, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

He was looking to become just the second player in MLB history to lead off four-straight games with a home run on Thursday (AEST), but the Marlins had other ideas.

In the final game of the series, the Marlins flipped the script in a painful way when starting pitcher Jose Urena drilled Acuña in the elbow with their first pitch of the game.

The 157km/h fastball hit Acuña square in the left elbow and left the hot-hitting rookie in pain.

The benches clear after Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves was hit by by a pitch from Jose Urena of the Miami Marlins at the start of the first inning at SunTrust Park on August 15, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The situation then escalated into a benches-clearing scuffle as the Braves were left furious over what they thought was an intentional act.

It’s never easy to be 100% sure about a pitcher’s intentions when hitting a batter, but a damning statistic says it all.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, Urena really ramped up the speed of his pitch, recording the fastest pitch he’s ever thrown on the first delivery of a game.

Urena was eventually ejected from the game – the first time a pitcher has been ejected for hitting the first batter since John Lackey of the Los Angeles Angels hit Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers in 2009.

The game resumed after a brief delay, but the Braves weren’t ready to let it go, taking a dig on Twitter.

Fans and experts were also livid that Urena had taken such unsportsmanlike measures to slow down the red-hot rookie.

And the anger has made it all the way to Australia, where Acuna played with the Melbourne Aces in 2016.

The Australian Baseball League changed its name on Twitter to ‘Acuna Baseball League’, joining the viral #WeStandWithAcuna movement.