Official Box Score :::
Additional photos can be found here :::
This was my first time at Frank J. McCoy Field this season and let me just say that a lot has changed. They played the National Anthem before the game (most twilight league games do not) and then there was this person announcing the players and such which was nice at first because I knew who the batters were without having to look them up, but as this person tried to take us through their version of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" it made me grateful for all of the other fields we go to that simply do not.
Distractions such as those aside, this was also only my second time seeing the Vernon Orioles this season, as the first time I saw them was at Ceppa Field vs the Expos and this would be their third meeting. It was a high profile type of game because the Jets, Expos and Orioles are all battling it out at the top for first place. I kind of like that the GHTBL is nine teams because they seem to have broken off into three clusters- top, mid and bottom.
Two things to note coming out of this game: The Expos were moved up to second place as the Orioles have previously beaten the Jets and knocked them down to second place. However, since the Jets also won on Sunday night, the Expos dropped to third place and the Orioles moved up only to second as the Jets maintain a half game lead over them. To put it bluntly: these top three teams are really close and seem to change with every game. We're winding down the season and every game truly does matter.
One of the best ways to describe this game was that Bill Riggieri of the Vernon Orioles was just out there pitching a masterpiece for the Vernon Orioles while Charlie Hesseltine was doing the same. To his credit, Charlie Hesseltine gave up four runs in the first inning but then settled down after that. Had it not been for that first inning explosion of offense this might have been a different game. And the Expos, though they lost, battled back every inning, never feeling out of it no matter how the Orioles responded.
An interesting stat coming out of this game is that Jimmy Titus (who either leads the league in everything batting or sits behind AJ Hendrickson in such) had one at bat, doubled and then was able to come home on a single. However, when Jimmy Titus came home he sort of did a barrell roll for some reason and his teammates and such were asking him afterwards if he was okay. It took me a minute to realize it, but they took him out of the game so I hope everything is ok with him. (He also could've possibly played last night in the Connecticut Twilight League but that, like all games in CT, was rained out)
When you're watching two of the top teams in the league play, you expect it to be exciting and either full of offense or just one of those close games with only a few runs and this was one of those games full of offense. It felt like at any time it could've exploded even further had it not been for the pitching, so those are the true heroes of this game.
My play of the game though goes undoubtedly to Nhasean Murphy who threw a rocket from center field to home plate to save a run as the Orioles runner was going, thinking he could make it and was just the victim of a tremendous throw. Winning or losing, these are the types of things you just love to see in the game.
This week the Orioles take on People's in Wethersfield tonight and then at home in Vernon on Thursday. M&T People's is one of those wild card teams where they might seem like a sure victory but that isn't always the case and the Orioles could take a loss in one of those games. The Expos are playing the Colts at home tonight and then the Cardinals on Friday at Pat Wall Field, so they're staying fairly local and that's nice.
Perhaps the team of the week to watch is the Rainbow Graphics as they have the only GHTBL game on Wednesday against the Phillies and then they play a rare Saturday night game against the Greeners. If you're following the GHTBL for baseball and not one specific team, those should be good match ups as it's tough to predict a winner for either of them. (I know the stats say the Greeners should lose but my gut says they might pull it out)
We also happen to be in the second to last week of the regular season, with games coming to an end in August and then it's the playoffs. So it just feels like now more than ever it's time to dive in head first and not come up for air until the season is over.