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Friday, October 12, 2007

NLCS opener interrupted by rowdy fans     Send a link to a friend

[October 12, 2007]  PHOENIX (AP) -- Angry fans threw water bottles and other debris onto the field following a disputed call, prompting crew chief Tim McClelland to clear the field during Thursday night's NL championship series opener.

The game was delayed for about eight minutes in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle waved his players into the dugout, but McClelland made the decision to clear the field, umpire supervisor Richie Garcia said.

"He felt the fans couldn't hear the announcements," Garcia said of McClelland. "I believe there were three or four announcements, and they couldn't hear them. So he took the players off the field."

Colorado was ahead 5-1 when the Arizona Diamondbacks put two runners on base with no outs. Augie Ojeda hit a grounder to third baseman Garrett Atkins, who threw to second baseman Kaz Matsui.

Justin Upton, running from first, slid over second base and then rolled his right shoulder into Matsui's left leg, knocking the infielder to the ground. Second base umpire Larry Vanover immediately called Upton out for interference, resulting in a double play.

"You had obvious intent on the part of the runner to break up the double play, and when it turns into intentional, that's when he's out for interference, and then the batter-runner is also out for the action of his teammate," Vanover said. "Once he got to the base, I thought he threw his hip up into the guy, and his intent at that point is not to get to the base. His intent is to crash the pivot man, so you've got obvious intent there. To get real simple with it, is his intent to go to the base and get on the base, or is his intent to crash the pivot man?"

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A few fans threw bottles onto the field from the upper deck, and then more followed far down the foul lines. Some of them landed near Rockies players, and Hurdle gestured in pulling his team off the field.

"There comes a point in time when you need to make a point. Enough's enough," Hurdle said.

Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe didn't make too much of it.

"It was just fans being upset. It's too bad," he said. "A few like that label a lot of people, but sounds like the other fans took care of it and were pulling the people out who were throwing stuff at us."

Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall said he did not know how many fans had been ejected or whether any arrests had been made. The team cut off alcohol sales immediately.

"Obviously we don't condone that," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said of the rowdy fans. "You don't want stuff being thrown on the field."

No replays of the disputed call were shown on the video board, Hall said.

"It's too bad it became about the umpires," Hall said. "But I think that showed we don't have such an apathetic crowd, clearly. The crowd was obviously showing that they thought the umpires overreacted. and once it began to get out of hand, we did all we could do to slow that down and to bring it to a stop."

[Associated Press; by Andy Bagnato]

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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