Phillies-Orioles box score:
Expos-Steel box score:
Additional photos can be found right here :::
The second day of Playoffs for the GHTBL had two interesting matchups in that they were both games which were played recently and meant a lot. The South Windsor Phillies and Vernon Orioles had been trading spots at first place throughout the season and then the Phillies captured first place by recently defeating the Orioles in their final regular season game. The Record-Journal Expos and Ulbrich Steel also have their fair share of history and most recently the Steel had defeated the Expos in a game which was the only Expos game I didn't attend this season.
The Phillies and Orioles were up first and they had quite the pitching battle between the Orioles' Tyler Pogmore and the Phillies' Trevor Moulton. Going into this game, I didn't really think about who would be the home team and so we ended up sitting on the Orioles side because it was in the shade. Without getting into too many details, let me just say that as much as I feel like I've sad negative things against the South Windsor Phillies this season, all of that felt washed away when sitting with the Orioles fans.
If the Phillies-Orioles game was a matter of "Which team do I dislike more" then it was easily decided that for this night I would have to be a Phillies fan because I found the Orioles fans around me to be insufferable. I think they also might have not liked me because I was sitting among them and when the Phillies center fielder Brody Labbe bunted the runners over to second and third I clapped perhaps a little bit too loudly. Look, I hate bunting but when it's done right it is quite fun to see.
The Orioles went up early 2-1 after the first inning, but the Philles got those runs back in the bottom of the third to go up 3-2 in what felt like a stalemate of great pitching. The Phillies scored those two runs in a somewhat scary situation as a throw by Orioles' first baseman Ian Halpin missed the mark. Ian Halpin ran down the ball and somehow found his way into the fence on the first base side. This resulted in bleeding and an injury which would take Ian Halpin out of the game and if he does in fact need stitches he could miss the rest of the playoffs.
I understand wanting to win- I really do- but I also understand playing another day. There are two Halpin brothers on the Orioles and the other one was not playing for some reason, but unless they changed positions because of that then Ian Halpin is the same Halpin brother we saw carelessly crash into the fence in Vernon when they played the Expos. The game is about necessary risks. In the third inning of the game, the play of going that hard into the fence just felt so needless and reckless.
This was the first time I've ever heard an umpire request that the player's parents come onto the field. This really kind of set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Orioles were able to fight back and put up five big runs in the top of the 6th to defeat the first place Phillies, but it all seemed overshadowed by this injury. People would ask "Who won the first game?" and you'd say "The Orioles... but their first baseman got injured" and it just felt like the bigger story, which is something you don't want to take away from the game itself.
As he was helped off of the field, over near us, I assume to leave the game and go to the hospital, Ian Halpin told someone else something to the effect that he ripped his knee open and since he couldn't even walk you have to wonder how that will affect the Orioles for the rest of the playoffs. This was the second game for the Orioles, who barely got by with a win against People's United Bank, and now they seem to only win this game with one lucky inning yet somehow also lose one of their best players in the process. Stupid. Stupid and needless. That's all it was.
The Expos and Steel seem to have this rivalry you can't quite put your finger on. It's not quite Yankees-Red Sox, it's more like when the Dodgers and Giants were battling for New York. This was another game which just showcased the pitching in such a way that you felt like the game might never end. The Expos put up one run in the first inning and it would be their only run over nine innings. The Steel scored a run in the second inning, leaving so much of the game tied 1-1. It did feel like they could play forever if only the pitching could have lasted.
In the top of the sixth inning, Expos pitcher A.J. Hendrickson and first baseman Will Kszywanos had a little bit of fun with the Steel as they did the old hidden ball trick by faking like the ball went back to the pitcher so as soon as the Steel runner stepped off of first base, Kszywanos tagged him out to end the inning. It's such a classic move and when it works it's great to see, but it also just felt like the Expos were having fun out there by doing it.
It would be the 9th inning before either team would score and there was that feeling of whoever scored first would win the game. While the Expos are out of the tournament and looking forward to next year, the Ulbrich Steel are now primed to play the South Windsor Phillies on Thursday night at Ceppa Field. The way the Steel have been playing the second half of this season- and the way the Phillies played tonight- could spell an upset for the first place team. But before that game the Rainbow Graphics and East Hartford Jets will play for the right to face the Vernon Orioles in the winners bracket. It all starts at 6:30pm on Thursday at Ceppa Field and it's going to be wild.