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This was the sixth game for the Record-Journal Expos and their season this year is only twelve games long so we've hit the halfway point. Not bad to go 5-1 at the half, as their counterparts in this game, the Vernon Orioles, are 3-3 at the half, with two of those losses now to the Expos. While the games have been better attended this season than what I saw last season, this specific game had a lot of fans in attendance. While the groups of who knew each other and who didn't were spaced out for social distancing, I would say that it would have been difficult to fit more fans in Ceppa Field as it was just that kind of game.
The fans made for a lively crowd and we even started the game with the "National Anthem"! We're at the end of our heatwave now and this game felt like it was going to be good because the Expos were at home and had already just crushed the Orioles on Sunday in their own home, but at the same time, what if the Orioles had learned from their mistakes? What if the Orioles had only scored one run on Sunday because they were saving them all for tonight? What if the Orioles were figuring out the Expos?
With Charlie Hesseltine on the mound, that wouldn't be the case. In the first inning, the Orioles put up three big runs which seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game. At that time, the Orioles were likely thinking that this was going to be a different game than Sunday- that this was going to be their game. However, the Expos managed to put up a run of their own in the first and then another in the second, making it 3-2 after only two innings. The Orioles might have sat on their lead, I don't know, but that was only the first inning and there was a lot of baseball left to be played.
The Orioles were kept scoreless for the second, third and fourth innings while the Expos put up four runs in the bottom of the third to go up 6-3. Suddenly, it was a different ball game. The Orioles came back in the fifth, scoring two runs to almost catch up with the Expos, but the Expos put up a run in the fifth and another in the sixth. The lone run the Orioles scored in the seventh wasn't enough to catch the Expos. The only inning in which the Expos didn't score was the fourth, just proving that even if you string together one run at a time, that can make the difference in winning the game.
The Orioles still had two HBP in this game and I don't know what it is with them and hitting batters but perhaps they do it to other teams as well. Perhaps their pitching just isn't that good. There were also two different times during this game when both of the coaches for each team- Charlie Hesseltine for the Expos and 42 for the Orioles- got into it with the umpire to where they were almost thrown out. Yes, there were some pretty bad calls in this game.
While we're on the subject of bad calls and rules, I wonder what happened to the outfield at Ceppa. Last season there was this fence out there many players just ran into or hopped over and that was where homeruns were hit. Now, this season, you have to hit a homerun literally out of the park, which is quite a long distance. There were at least two long shots in this game that would have been homeruns last season. What happened to that flimsy little fence?
The story of the game tonight was that Charlie Hesseltine brought the pitching and his team brought the offense. The Orioles seemed to struggle once again with both the pitching and hitting, and maybe their roster has changed a lot since last season, but they are not the same team that I remember, where they felt like they would be so difficult to beat. The South Windsor Phillies are still on top of the GHTBL (still undefeated too) but they haven't faced the Expos yet. This second half of the Expos season promises to be more exciting than ever before.