Additional photos can be found in the Facebook album here :::
It has been about four months maybe since I last went to a baseball game and during that time it has been cold but the Silver City Banditos also made the leap from the Nutmeg State Baseball League over to the Connecticut North Men's Senior Baseball League (CNMSBL) The Banditos are in a division of players 25 years of age and older but they still play the doubleheaders on Sundays and one of the new teams they will be facing also comes from Meriden (their home field is Ceppa!)
At the beginning of the week there was a prediction for Sunday to be 90% rain and even my uncle was telling me how the day looked like a wash out but then when we actually got to Sunday it was a nice day. It's funny how when I think back to last season and the two most extremes of weather I faced- the heat and cold- both came from different Banditos games. So it was one of those situations, for the weather, where the wind was a little bit chilly but it wasn't unbearable and it wasn't hot either so it felt comfortable. It was, in many ways, perfect weather for a baseball game.
Being in the CNMSBL now the Banditos have changed but only slightly. They lost a few players and gained a few new ones in their place. It will be interesting to see how that plays out throughout the season but the other thing is that this was also just the first game- the first doubleheader- and so it's a question of when the last time these guys played was and when they played together as a team. Going to the batting cages isn't the same as taking the field and playing an actual game, so to me a lot of this was a matter of seeing what works and what doesn't and then using that knowledge for next Sunday.
The funny thing about this doubleheader is that both games had the same score but just in different wins and losses. In that way, I truly do believe that these games were somewhat reflections of each other in the way that whatever you want to write about the Banditos in Game 1 could be said about the Gators in Game 2 and vice versa. Although I will note that even though the Southington Navigators use the Gators as their nickname on uniform they do not share the Norwich Navigators color scheme and look more like the Orioles. I wish they had that purple and green pop though.
The highlights of the first game were a doubleplay to end the first inning for the Banditos followed by a doubleplay by the Gators to end their inning- so the first inning on top and bottom both ended with a DP. Bandito Ricky Marrero started and ended the bottom of the second at bat as the Banditos put up seven runs in that inning alone. JD Tyler had an RBI of his own for the hashtag pitchers that rake. And in the bottom of the sixth inning the player who was number 34 for the Gators (he's not listed on their roster on the site) made a great diving catch falling backwards in left field to end the inning.
What can be said about both games is that JD Tyler dominated the Gators in the first game with his pitching. He pitched a complete game and the Gators seemed unable to respond offensively. The Gators, however, used several pitchers and that had the Banditos offense just lighting up. Now, this is true only in the reverse for the second game. The Banditos had Willie Rios, Scott Iwaniec and even JD Tyler come back to pitch during this game. While the Gators did the multiple pitchers in the first game they relied more on Nelson Tirado and his just stellar outing in the second game, which seemed to stifle the Banditos offense.
So, yes, I do feel like it was a matter of one pitcher leading the way to victory for each team in this doubleheader and multiple pitchers being used in the losses. One other factor perhaps in the Banditos loss in the second game was the absence of Ricky Marrero, which my uncle paid me $5 to tease him about here. (My uncle said he would also mention it to him at the next Maloney game, so I'll find out if that happened)
Strangley, there was another connection between the two teams in the story of the second game. In the top of third inning with runners on a ball was hit to left field. Runners would score on top of each other for the Gators only for the umpire to then go and rule the ball foul and everyone had to kind of hit the rewind button. This would feel like more of a coincidence and one-off deal had something similar not happened in the bottom of the third inning when Scott Iwaniec hit a shot to deep left field and everyone was pretty much under the impression it was a grandslam. The umpires then hit the rewind button and said, no, that ball was foul as well. This left a lot of us confused.
From where I sit, I saw where that ball landed but I didn't know where the line actually went up as it bounced in front of the tennis court. My uncle went out there to see and he counted how far it was and told me, so based on what he said that ball was fair but it did seem a little bit close to call. Now, if I was at a different vantage point- from either homeplate or the first base side- I would have easily seen that ball as being fair. At the end of the day, at the end of the game, this might not have mattered in terms of the win/loss situation: it wasn't a blown call that would have neccesarily had the Banditos winning, but the fact that we got robbed of seeing a grandslam and the fact that Scott Iwaniec was robbed of that stat is the true shame.
There was a triple play by the Gators to end the bottom of the third- as a ball was hit sharply to third base and runners were caught off the bag- and that was kind of neat to see. But really I'm just excited to see what becomes of the Banditos this season as they are in a new league with new teams and that can hopefully have some positivity with it. I'm looking forward to a friendly Meriden rivalry and perhaps most of all I'm just happy to be outside again watching baseball because I've certainly missed it.