Monday, July 29, 2019

Baseball Review //
Naugatuck Hackers vs. Silver City Banditos
@ Maloney High School 7/28/19


On Sunday I headed to Maloney's baseball field for 10 am to see the Nutmeg State Baseball League for the second time.   This time, the Silver City Banditos welcome the Naugatuck Hackers and I stayed for both games of the doubleheader.   It was hot out but there was a nice breeze so I wasn't bothered by the heat too much.   The Hackers have this great purple and orange color scheme complete with names on their backs, while their older uniforms look like the Rockies. 

The Banditos started the first game off with only allowing a run in the first inning and then the Hackers wouldn't score again until the seventh.    In the bottom of the second, with runners on first and second the Hackers got out of the inning with a strikeout, which was something the Banditos would do in the top of the 4th as well, only with runners on second and third.   This game was quite the contest for the pitchers but I tend to find that the pitching in baseball can be one of the key components, especially when the score doesn't seem so high.

While the Banditos put up two runs in the bottom of the third, making the score 2-1, they also put up four runs in the bottom of the sixth, making it 6-1 going into the Hackers final three outs.   Now, last Wednesday in Middletown I witnessed this GHTBL game between the Expos and Jewelers in which it felt like it all came down to the final two innings (and it was quite possibly my favorite game this season)   This felt a little bit like that in the sense that the sixth and seventh innings really made the first game.

The bottom of the sixth was wild for the Banditos, as J.D. Tyler had an at bat which felt like fifty pitches before he finally ended up getting walked.   The Hackers responded with a wild top of the seventh of their own, putting up five huge runs to tie the game 6-6.  At this point I was wondering whether or not this game would go into a tie or extra innings, but I also thought that the Banditos could walk it off and I'd never find out. 

With runners in scoring position, I want to say that there were two outs because I'm just used to these types of situations coming down to the final out but I think there was only one out and J.D. Tyler was back at the plate.    Tyler had pitched all seven innings of this game and looked quite impressive.   At bat, this became his game to win or lose.   As a Mets fan, I wish all pitchers had that control.    J.D. Tyler hit a long ball that dropped deep in right center and the Banditos walked off the first game, 7-6. 

Call me old fashion, but I don't like the DH rule.  Someone out there thought that pitchers were an easy out and they should be the players who focused on pitching and not hitting, but if you are a pitcher and don't want to be an easy out then consider taking some swings.  I'm not entirely sure how this works, but I feel like if you step in as a batter as well, to see things from that perspective, it would improve your pitching.   J.D. Tyler is a pitcher who can hit and both teams have these utility players who can do it all.   I so much more like seeing teams built like this than teams full of players in the same spots every game.


I brought this cheese danish with me and in between games I ate it, which with the heat it felt like I had put it in the microwave and kind of warmed it up a little bit, so there's a neat little life hack for you.    There was about a twenty minute intermission between games and so the second game started around 1 pm.   My camera battery was about to die when the second game started, which was good because I have a backup, so I basically used one battery per game.


In the second game, the Hackers were at home.   I'm not sure how the heat factors into any of this, but from watching Ivy League baseball (They also love the doubleheaders) it's not always easy to sweep both games.   It happens, but sometimes it feels like you use up all your hits in the first game, or if you're in a slump the first game you get out of it by the second game.   During this second game, J.D. Tyler moved to right field after pitching the first and Banditos left fielder Willie Rios took the mound.   Both Hector Gonzalez and Jason Sullivan of the RJ Expos returned for Game 2 while they were joined by Will Kszywanos.

The Hackers started Game 2 with pitcher Mike Doran, and at the start it looked as if the Hackers would win because they put up a run on the board first in the bottom of the second.   The Banditos would fire back though with bases loaded when Hector Gonzalez hit a bomb to left to clear the bases in the top of the third.    This felt like an Expos play.   The Hackers came back with another run in the bottom of the third to make it 3-2, but it wasn't until the bottom of the fifth when the Hackers had a huge four run inning to put them up 6-3.   It was an inning that the Banditos would not be able to overcome.

While the Banditos were able to put up two runs in the top of the sixth, they also gave up a run in the bottom of the sixth.   The final score was a Hackers win, 7-5, and it wasn't that far off from the score of the first game only this time the runs felt a little bit more paced out rather than all happening at the end of the game.    If you aren't on a team or don't really know anyone playing for either of them, it doesn't really matter because this is just good baseball and it's what real baseball fans should want to watch.

The Naugatuck Hackers have two young women playing for their team and when I tell people that they tend to say "Oh, it's a softball league?" like the idea of women playing baseball is absurd, but no, they were both playing baseball.    Beth Greenwood was catcher during the second game and she did an excellent job back there while Jacqui Reynolds played second for both games and in the first game made two amazing plays on ground balls.   One time, she was at her knees for the throw while the second time she made the throw to first from her back.    I've seen lazier second basemen in MLB. 

Also, the shortstop for the Hackers- number 4- he had a game and I'm not sure what his background is (he looks young) but he's going to be something special.  He had the offense and defense down.  At one point, there was a ball hit near him and he snagged it to which someone in the Banditos dugout said "It's not my fault they got Derek Jeter at shortstop".    But this is a league full of players of all ages and experience levels and I enjoy that about it as well.   I think that makes for the best baseball.   And even if you go to church on Sunday morning, you can always stop by for the second game.

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