Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates spring training game ends without referees

(CNN) Referees for the spring training preseason game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t hesitate to work overtime on Tuesday as they left the field ahead of the players.

To be fair to the officials, the game had officially ended when Baltimore’s Josh Lester found himself at second base in the top of the ninth with the Pirates leading 7-4.

But due to a prior discussion between Pirates manager Derek Shelton and Baltimore boss Brandon Hyde, the decision was made to keep the players out for the bottom of the ninth to give right-hander Ofreidy Gómez a little practice against live hitters.

The match continued without referees as many fans began to emerge from the stadium.

According to MLB, catcher Maverick Handley was given the added responsibility of calling balls and strikes for the remainder of the game.

“A little action on the court,” Hyde told reporters after the game, per MLB.

It’s not uncommon for teams to decide to play a little longer during spring training games, but referees have no obligation to stay.

Clearly disagreeing with Tuesday’s plan, the officials simply walked off the field after a brief discussion. Maybe they had dinner reservations?

It’s yet another bizarre moment in this year’s pre-season where players have become accustomed to new regulations introduced to speed up games for 2023.

They have until the start of the season for real on March 30 to get used to the changes and the umpires will soon be forced to stay until the last pitch to enforce them.

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