Additional photos can be found here :::
The weather for this game was neither too cold nor too hot, it seemed just right. It's odd to be in the middle of October and still feel this sense of warmth in the sun but I'd rather have it than be in my winter coat right now. This was a first round playoffs game, nine innings and if you lose you go home. I think the fact that this was a nine inning game shouldn't be lost on anyone because when these two teams faced each other in the regular season their first game went eight innings because it was such a stalemate.
That game gave the Banditos their first loss this season. That's a fun piece of trivia you don't want to think about going into the game but you don't feel so badly about acknowledging it now. The Banditos split their regular season games with the Express and what I perhaps remember most about those games is that the Express have a pitcher who is number 11 and I told my uncle he was a ringer from the Marlins. There was some concern going into this game because if the Express did whatever they did in that 4-2 victory back in August then they would certainly win here.
But the Banditos aren't the same team they were back in August. The Banditos are more focused on hitting now and it's strange to say because they were on a winning streak up until then. Now they just seem to be getting the job done because they know it's time. I didn't pay much attention to what happened with the Connecticut Express for the rest of the season but as it turns out they finished right behind the Banditos in fifth place and had a 13-9 record (compared to the Banditos 16-8, but still over .500, which was where they were at back in August)
This game started with Dan Livingston on the mound which was an interesting way to begin things as it seemed most likely we'd see JD Tyler starting. I suppose the idea was to start Dan Livingston and see how he did and if he got into trouble then they could bring in JD Tyler, as opposed to trying to make either pitcher go all nine innings if it was a close game (or if the Banditos were down) It makes sense and really just rests JD Tyler for a week, which can bring him back even stronger next week.
The first at bat for the Express was HBP and Dan Livingston would have three of those throughout the game. After a strikeout though the Express hit into a double play and the first three outs were recorded with the Banditos off to a great start defensively. When the Banditos took the bat, Jason Sullivan got on base right away and then was hit in by Will Kszywanos for a 1-0 early lead. Ricky Marrero got a little hit in the infield which put him on base alongside Will Kszywanos and then Francisco Asencio hit a deep bomb to left field that went over the fence for a three run homerun. At the end of the first inning it was Banditos on top 4-0.
The Express had their number 11 pitcher on the mound so I thought maybe he was just settling in. The offense of the Express also seemed to be stifled by not only the pitching of Dan Livingston but the defense of the Banditos team. In the top of the second inning there was a ball thrown to first to check the runner which got past the first baseman. This got the Express runner all the way to third base but after a strikeout the inning was over so it didn't matter. In similar fashion, the Express went into the fifth inning and got bases loaded for themselves with no outs. The Banditos managed to get out of it though without giving up a single run.
It wasn't until the sixth inning when number 50 for the Express hit a shot to the gap and made it into a double. Then the Express number 9 did something similar which scored the first run of the game. The Express also put together a few little hits to score one run in the top of the eighth inning but it was too little too late. If they had started doing this in the third or fourth inning it could have been a different game. But these small bursts of offense in the sixth inning wasn't enough for the Express to take down the Banditos, who also continue to put up the runs.
In the third inning both Ricky Marrero and JD Tyler got RBIs. The bottom of the eighth ended on a great diving catch by the Express left fielder, but the Banditos were up 9-2 at that point so it didn't feel like three outs were enough for a comeback. There was also a quick top of the eighth inning I should mention because it was a pop up fly out and then two strikeouts, which my uncle missed when he went to the bathroom and, yes, it all happened so fast.
Willie Rios made a great jumping catch for the Banditos and this game was also highlighted in many ways by the pitching of Dan Livingston, who was striking them out right up until the end. This was a fun game in ways because it was exciting and full of offense. This game earned the Banditos a spot into the semi-finals and they have the uphill battle of facing the regular season champions Milford Monsters this coming Sunday. The Monsters swept the Banditos during the regular season but the Banditos were a different team then. This time, the Banditos might be going into this as the underdawgs but based on this game today they have all of the tools which they need to defeat the Monsters and win it all.