There’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned standoff.
It’s been a frequent gag in the major leagues, in which at least one player from each side of the field stays standing after the National Anthem. Whoever cracks first, loses.
But in some cases, officials have come close to ejecting players who have carried out the standoff far beyond an umpire’s patience.
Before the Spokane Indians’ Friday night showing against Hillsboro, the Hops’ bullpen tested that patience at Avista Stadium. But home plate umpire Chris Presley was not having it.
The officials repeatedly told the Hops to take a seat. A few players started to give up, but two Hillsboro pitchers – Mitch Aker and Cal Becker – stayed standing in what they thought was a standoff with right-hander Noah Bremer, who normally stands for a few seconds after the National Anthem.
According to some of the players in the pen, Bremer didn’t notice that the Hops had initiated a standoff with him.
“He didn’t even realize what was going on. He was kind of like a deer in the headlights when we told him,” pitcher Josh Advocate said.
Presley ejected Aker and Becker, who refused to move, within a minute after the conclusion of the anthem.
Hops manager Shawn Roof immediately ran onto the field to talk with Presley about the ejections, arguing that Bremer had not stood down either.
Roof refused to return to the dugout and was eventually tossed out of the game.
The ejections sparked confusion from the crowd, and even from the Indians coaching staff, which hadn’t noticed the standoff until players were tossed.
“I had to ask what was going on because I was still making my last couple of notes on my lineup card,” Indians manager Matt Hagen said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
Roof’s absence didn’t seem to shake up Hillsboro, as the Hops rallied in the ninth for a 6-5 win over the Indians.
Spokane’s Chad Smith brought his big bat twice, knocking in three runs on two home runs. His second homer, in the eighth over the right field fence, extended the Indians’ lead to 5-3.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Smith said of his two-homer night. “It’s not something that happens every day. It’s not something that everybody gets to experience.”
But the comfortable two-run lead heading into the final inning didn’t last long. Right-hander Josh Advocate immediately gave up a double after retiring the side in the seventh and eighth innings.
Ismel Lopez relieved Advocate, but the righty loaded the bases on two consecutive walks after tossing eight balls in nine pitches.
Hagen made his way out to the mound again and waved in righty Jacob Rogers to take over. Rogers worked his first batter to a full count before forcing in a run on a third consecutive walk.
Hillsboro’s Yan Sanchez knocked a hard infield grounder that went between the legs of Indians shortstop Jonah McReynolds. The error sent home two more runs and gave Hillsboro the lead for good.
“If we could take the last inning away we had pretty good game,” Hagen said.
The Hops (13-10) jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning when Eudy Ramos launched a two-run homer over the 395-foot center field fence.
But the Indians answered on the first pitch of the second inning when Clay Middleton launched the ball over the left field wall. The solo home run cut Hillsboro’s lead to 2-1.
Middleton notched another run for Spokane in the fourth inning when he sent home Tyler Ratliff on a bouncer to second.
Smith gave Spokane its first lead of the night, 4-2, with a two-run homer in the fifth.
Hillsboro pulled within a run when Hops center fielder Tra’mayne Holmes homered to left-center in the sixth.
Spokane smacked three home runs and outhit the Hops 8-5. Smith and Ratliff led the Indians with a pair of hits apiece.
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