Baseball Review //
Middletown Mets, 5
Record-Journal Expos, 6
June 6th, 2023
at Ceppa Field, Meriden CT

Official box score :::

Additional photos :::

I must preface this all by saying that we were in an "air quality alert" (and still are as I type this) because smoke from the wildfires in Canada is coming down here.   I've never seen anything like this- to this extent before- but it's sepia outside, so dark and so light at the same time.   This makes such an awkward color for the sky and throughout the game it felt like it was creeping down onto the field, growing worse and making everything feel more like it was in the fog.

On top of this, the way this smoke smell and hazy color makes you feel, it just seems very dry out there like it wants to rain but it won't.   A breeze had been blowing through but towards the end of this game it kicked up really strong and blew the infield dirt around to create this strange sandstorm and it made for a lot of visibility issues which would affect both teams but at one point it wouldn't have surprised me if they didn't play this game.

For those reasons this will forever be known to me as the "dustbowl game", but this was a good back and forth game which came right down until the very end.  Jaden Hendricks pitched a complete game for the Mets while Brendan O'Connell went 6.2 innings, with the Expos bringing Jeff Massicotte in for that final out.   And boy was that final out something to be hold as it felt like the whole game had reset itself.   But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In the top of the first, Brendan O'Connell issued a walk but then the runner was out caught stealing.   The game went like this a bit: bases were given but then taken away.   A wild pitch in the top of the first would score two runs for the Mets, putting them up on top right away.  The top of the second was three up/three down with a strikeout and then in the bottom of the second Kyle Hartenstein would hit a two run homerun over the right field fence to tie up the game.

The top of the third was three up/three down and it ended with a broken bat for the Mets.  The funny thing is, my uncle said something to me about how he couldn't remember the last time he saw a broken bat.  I reminded him that when he goes to high school games and softball though they don't use wooden bats and that's probably why and he laughed and agreed.   Sometimes, wood bats just make the difference.

In the bottom of the third the Expos also went down 1-2-3 and somehow the top of the fourth was another three up/three down situation.    The bottom of the fourth saw the most excitement for the Expos as Brandon Hernandez RBI'ed in Kyle Hartenstein, who had singled and then stole both second and third base.  Sebby Grignano RBI'ed in Brandon Hernandez and then Jeff Massicotte did the ground out sacrifice to bring in Evan Avery for a three run inning, putting the Expos up 5-2.

The top of the fifth inning saw Sean Jefferson hit a deep shot to right field which took the Expos some time to recover.  It would be a double for Jefferson and two runs would score to make it a 5-4 ball game.  It felt like every time one team scored, the other team had to score and answer back, making this a close game.   In the bottom of the fifth, Max Giacco stole third base and the throw by the catcher went into left field so Giacco also came home, putting the Expos up 6-4 after five innings.

During the sixth inning there was some discussion among the umpires about a balk but no runs scored for either team.   This is when the dirt began really blowing everywhere and after a lead off double the bases were loaded and Jeff Massicotte came in with one out to pitch.   A hit was made in this little blooper to third base way and one run scored but as the second Mets runner went for home he was called out at the plate.   With only one out and it being such a close game, I might not have sent that second runner.

Now there were two outs, the Mets down to their final out, and it was 6-5.   At this point in time the game took a TV time out because one of the players on the Mets was yelling from the dug out about how this was the worst umpiring he'd ever seen (and other phrases with colorful language) and the home plate umpire threw him out of the game.   This whole ordeal took maybe six or seven minutes but it felt like forever when the game was down to its last out.

Look, I get it.  The players are saying things from the dug out all game, you finally reach your boiling point as an umpire and want to throw someone out of the game.   But in the time it took them to have that verbal exchange and then for the player to get his things and leave, the game would've been over and then some if they just ignored it and let the action on the field play out.   With there potentially only being one out left in the game, this just felt like bad timing by the umpires. 

The Expos now sit at 4-0 with only the Rainbow Graphics ahead of them at 6-0.   M&T Bank is right behind the Expos at 3-0 and interestingly enough the next game for both undefeated teams is this Thursday, June 8th, at Wethersfield High School where the undefeated Expos take on the undefeated M&T!  

On Thursday night, the Rainbow Graphics are home as they take on the East Hartford Jets.  If both the Expos and Graphics win on Thursday night, remaining undefeated, there will be another chance for someone to taste defeat as the Rainbow Graphics come to Ceppa Field on Friday night to face the Record-Journal Expos.  

While being undefeated is nice, let's talk about the real story of this game and it's how the Expos fought right up until the end and won.   There would have been a time in seasons past when the Expos would've had that one inning full of runs and then the offense would've gone quiet for the rest of the game.   That team would've lost this game.  But, the way that the newer players are stepping up with the veterans and combining for offense (and on defense) just makes this a different team.   And I fully believe it's what makes the Expos so good this season.  


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