Additional photos can be found in a Facebook album here :::
We've gone from fairly warm temperatures (in the 70s) to straight up hot here as this day was up near 90 degrees and sunny. There were some clouds and a slight breeze though which helped keep me cool. The first thing I noticed when I got to this game was that they put this black fence around the dugouts so when I'm on the third base side- where I usually am- the fence blocks my view of the batter. Pretty soon all baseball will be played inside cages like UFC. It is the only way.
The Windsor HellCats came into this doubleheader without a win. They wear blue and green uniforms which say "Hartford" on them, so I was confused as to whether or not this was the HellCats. They kind of looked like the Yard Goats. Perhaps that's one of my favorite parts of being introduced to new baseball teams: seeing how they dress. If I was making a team called the "HellCats" you'd bet the uniforms would literally look like fire with little cat faces on them. Something like the logo from Black Cat Fireworks with that shirt Guy Fieri is known for wearing. If you know you know.
The biggest news going into this game was the absence of Ricky Marrero. For most games past, Ricky Marrero has only played in one of the two for the doubleheader and that was also the game which the Banditos won. The fact that the Banditos won both of these games without Ricky Marrero means that it is perhaps time to stop thinking he is the key to their winning and losing, but it would have been nice to see him hit some dingers.
Baseball is often thought of as being a game like chess and the object is to score runs for your team while preventing the other team from scoring runs. In the first inning, Ray Thayer got a double in the first at bat. J.D. Tyler was up next and he sacrificed Thayer over to third. Then Francisco Asencio sacrificed Thayer to home to put the Banditos up 1-0. Yes, it cost them two outs but it gave them a run and sometimes in baseball games one run can make all of the difference. Scott Iwaniec would hit a two out double to score Justin Poirier and the Banditos would go up 2-0 early on.
The top of the third inning saw all three outs for the HellCats come by way of strike out. The HellCats just couldn't seem to hit off of J.D. Tyler while the Banditos seemed to be having a better time hitting. After scoring another run in the second inning, the Banditos put up four runs in the fifth inning rally to give them a 7-0 lead. The sixth inning would see the HellCats with bases loaded but a strike out would end the inning without any runs scored. It wasn't until the seventh inning when the HellCats managed to get two runs before the game came to an end.
After a half hour break between games, we came back to a somewhat different story in Game 2. While the Banditos went up and stayed up for all of Game 1, they had the first run scored against them in the first inning of the second game. The HellCats were up 1-0 through three innings with Scott Iwaniec pitching a complete game for the Banditos. I had to get up and stretch so I walked into the outfield and then the Banditos hit a shot to center field which was dropped by the HellCats CFer. This allowed two runs to score and the Banditos went up 2-1, which is where the score would stay.
Between being up 1-0 and being down 2-1, this game was still exciting for both the HellCats and Banditos because it always felt like at a moments notice someone could score a run or two and change the entire game. It was that close, edge of your seat type of suspense that I love about baseball. And the game would perhaps come down to one play on the third base side before all was said and done.
There was a throw to third which went past Justin Poirier but Scott Iwaniec was there to field it. Now, the HellCats player who hit the ball stayed at first. So, from my vantage point- being right near the third base side- I should have had the best view of this. However, when the ball was thrown to third and went past the base I assumed that the runner would simply be on his way home so my eyes shifted to the runner at first, watching for him to go to second. I assumed that the ball would be recovered and thrown to second so that was where the play was going to be- so that's where my focus went.
Now the HellCats team claimed that the throw went over the line and out of play which should be an automatic double (I believe) which probably would have sent the runner on third home as well and that could have tied the game. The funny thing is, if that ball did go past the line it either died in the grass or was possibly stopped by that new fence Maloney put in as well. It is possible that Scott Iwaniec got to the ball before it went out of play but I'm not entirely certain either way because I was watching second base while all this was happening under my nose. I believe the homeplate umpire who made the call was also watching second- he seemed to say that to the HellCats- but isn't that why there are two umpires?
Next week the Banditos hit the road as they make their way to Southington then there is a four week straight home stretch at Maloney. Right now, the Banditos sit a half game behind the New Haven Cardinals and that puts them in third place overall. The first place team, however, is the Marlborough A's, who still only have one loss which was to the Banditos. So if this comes down to the Banditos vs the A's in the post season it's going to be a very good game to watch. We're only five doubleheaders into the season but it's all shaping up nicely and is certainly exciting.