Additional photos can be found in a Facebook album here :::
One of the things I found out about late last season was the Nutmeg State Baseball League, which plays only on Sundays and the team closest to where I live is the Silver City Banditos who play about a four minute drive away from my house. I'm sure I'd set an alarm and wake up to go to baseball on a Sunday morning even if I had to drive an hour, but having it be such a short distance does help.
For the Banditos season opener (and the Newington Wolves as well) they struck big and they struck hard. The story of the first game was the pitching of J.D. Tyler. My uncle watched the whole first game with me, left and came back for the second half of the second game (When it was still 0-0) and he said that he thought J.D. Tyler had at least ten strikeouts. I said fifteen because it felt like there were at least two innings there where he struck out the whole side and the official number according to Facebook was 13. The Wolves just couldn't seem to put together enough hits to do anything in the first game.
During the second game, when the Wolves put some runs on the board it just seemed to make the Banditos angry as they answered with more runs of their own. A huge shot to center field by Jason Sullivan went over the fielder's head and was a bases clearing triple in the top of the fifth. This was followed by an inside the park homerun by the next batter to right around the same spot. The offense really came alive for the Banditos in the second game, but as much as I feel like the pitching of the Banditos stopped the Wolves in the first game, I feel like the pitching of the Wolves hurt themselves in the second game.
There were at least two unearned runs in the second game- a bases loaded run walked in situation- and there was also at least one run scored on a pitch which got by the Wolves' catcher. It felt like something happened to the Wolves' starting pitcher in the second game and when they pulled him out, they weren't prepared to replace him. It made for some fun baseball though because you never knew what was going to happen. The first game was a shut out, but that made it feel like the Wolves would rebound without having to face J.D. Tyler. The Wolves were off to a good start too, as the first four innings were scoreless.
Perhaps the most important lesson in the second game, as my uncle pointed out, is that one simply cannot rest on a lead. With the Banditos up 5-0 going into the bottom of the 5th, the Wolves would score 2 runs, then one 1 in the sixth and two more runs in the bottom of the seventh. Had the Banditos felt comfortable in their 5-0 lead and not tried to get any more runs (of which they scored five in the sixth) then it would have been a tie game and the Wolves might have even been motivated enough to walk it off.
This game was fairly well attended as at one point there were people on every side of the field, even up top near the Maloney entrance you drive around in a circle. It took a little while after the game started for everyone to fill in and some people left before the end of the first game, some only stayed for one game and some only showed up for the second game. That's one of the things which is great about having double header on a Sunday morning- you most likely have the time to get there at some point to see baseball, whether it's only a half of a game or a full five hours in the sun like me.
The Newington Wolves weren't even a team last year (I do believe they're replacing the Naugatuck Hackers, who announced they wouldn't be back this season) so it isn't easy to judge these two wins based upon them- because I don't know what type of team the Wolves will be throughout this season- but the Banditos showed excellence both through their pitching, on field defense and offense. This summer it should definitely be fun watching them and I feel like I'm not the only one who is ready to spend some quality time outside.