Chukars outfielder Brandon Downes hits the ball deep into left field to bring two runners home and tie the score 2-2 during the fourth inning of the game against the Ogden Raptors Tuesday at Melaleuca Field. Pat Sutphin / email@example.com
By PAUL LAMBERT
When Brandon Thomasson finally ended it with a double in the bottom of the 16th inning, Idaho Falls Chukars manager Omar Ramirez was sitting in the clubhouse.
His Chukars had just beaten Ogden 9-8 in a heated, marathon game.
A game that featured 32 hits, three fights, 11 ejections and two 7th-inning stretches — all before coming to a merciful end when Chukars catcher Pedro Gonzalez slid home ahead of the tag.
And Ramirez? He missed it after being ejected in the top of the 10th following a bench-clearing brawl that included Ramirez and Ogden manager Jack McDowell.
The victory roar went up from the home crowd at 12:47 a.m. early Wednesday morning after 5 hours, 29 minutes of play.
And Ramirez? He was sitting in his office watching ESPN with a bruise on his left cheek and a plate of chicken on his desk.
He didn’t even know how the game ended. Some media guy had to tell him.
As a professional manager, Ramirez certainly had access to the MiLB live broadcast. He just couldn’t bear to watch it on a little TV while locked behind the cinder block walls of his office.
“I didn’t watch,” he said. “Being in the dugout I can handle things. But when I can’t handle things, I get nervous. I don’t even know how we won the game.”
Part of what Ramirez didn’t watch was Ogden breaking an 8-7 tie in the top of the eighth, only to have Idaho Falls come back with a run of its own in the bottom of the frame.
That game-tying run came after a Thomasson double, a balk on a failed intentional walk attempt and an infield single by Corey Toups.
Gonzalez doubled to left center to start the 16th, and Thomasson doubled to the opposite gap beyond a spirited dive by Ogden center fielder Devan Arehart.
Thomasson’s hit rolled to the wall, but Gonzalez had a late start and barely made it home before the relay throw.
“He threw me a couple curveballs before that, then he threw me a fastball and left it out over the plate,” Thomasson said. “I got the bat head out and just drove it to right center.”
The Chukars players exploded out of the dugout, mobbing both Gonzalez and Thomasson on the infield. For his efforts, Thomasson got a Gatorade bath in the left eye and ear, as well as an ice bath down the back of his No. 35 pinstripe jersey.
“It’s a great win, and these guys have heart and they showed it again tonight,” Ramirez said.
Idaho Falls gave up a 7-2 lead to Ogden for the second straight night when the Raptors posted five runs in the eighth on three walks, a hit batsman and two hits.
Unlike Monday’s 10-7 loss to the Raptors where two late errors led to three critical runs, the Chukars played an astounding 16 innings of errorless Rookie League baseball on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.
“We talked about it last night when we struggled defensively, and tonight we took care of business with the baseball,” Ramirez said.
The two teams won’t meet again until the end of the season when they play five straight to close the Pioneer League’s second half.
Considering the hoots, caterwauling and general mayhem in the post-game locker room, Thomasson believes Tuesday’s win is the type of game that could turn around the second half of the season for the 1-2 Chukars.
And Ramirez? He’s similarly encouraged.
“This was unbelievable,” he said. “There were fights and all that, and thank God we won this game. … Hopefully from here on good things happen.”
FIGHT NIGHT RECAP
Three 10th-inning fights broke out in the Idaho Falls win, adding extra drama to an extra-inning thriller.
The confrontation began when Ogden designated hitter Justin Chigbogu took exception to something said by Idaho Falls catcher Pedro Gonzalez following Chigbogu’s three-pitch strikeout in the top of the 10th.
After reaching the third-base on-deck circle, Chigbogu flipped his bat and started aggressively shouting and walking toward Gonzalez.
At that point, home plate umpire Jordan Johnson got between the two, the benches and bullpens cleared, and more than 60 grown men began pushing and shoving midway between home plate and the pitching mound.
The much-taller McDowell was bumping and pointing in Ramirez’s face, and Ramirez was bumping and barking right back – finally shouting an audible, two-word curse.
McDowell threw the first punch, and that sent the entire throng from pushing to punching.
“It was just baseball,” Ramirez said. “They thought we were throwing at their hitters and all that, which we didn’t. Jack got mad or whatever … and you saw what happened.”
The teams separated once, and after some additional barking, snowballed on the infield again 90 seconds later.
A third fracas erupted as McDowell and Ramirez reached the clubhouse after both were ejected.
McDowell was waiting for Ramirez and the bulldogging began anew. Again both dugouts and bullpens made a mad dash to the clubhouse area.
“He thought I sucker punched him or whatever … but that’s in the past,” Ramirez said.
After separating the teams a third time, Johnson had tossed McDowell, Chigbogu, Ogden catcher Julian Leon, Ogden pitching coach Greg Sabat and Ogden outfielders Colin Hering and Theo Alexander.
Ramirez was also thrown out, along with pitcher Brooks Pounders and Brawlun Gomez. Idaho Falls bench coach Julio Bruno was ejected in an unrelated incident in the 15th.
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