Baseball Review //
Rainbow Graphics, 4
Record-Journal Expos, 5
June 9th, 2023
at Ceppa Field, Meriden CT

Official box score here :::

Additional photos can be found in a Facebook album here :::

As the previous days had been filled with this haze there was a brief storm that passed through on Friday afternoon, enough of a downpour to make the haze feel like it was over but not enough to prevent baseball from happening here.   There were a few light sprinkles during the game and this created a double rainbow over home plate which was fun to see and somehow felt like it was in favor of the Rainbow Graphics.  

Prior to this game, there had been three undefeated teams in the GHTBL with the Expos suffering a loss to M&T Bank the night before it was down to only M&T Bank and Rainbow Graphics as being the undefeated teams.  Stopping this 7-0 run that Rainbow Graphics was on felt like a big deal and it was.

As much as I feel like the Expos have changed their lineup for the better in the offseason, the Rainbow Graphics also have some new names I don't recognize and so they might have also subscribed to the theory that bringing forth the same team every year and finishing fifth isn't going to change unless you change some player by adding pitchers or bats.  There are some familiar names but also new names in that Graphics lineup.

Matt Constanza started off the first inning as a new name with Dan Orzech, another new name to me, hitting a double on a deep shot to left field to start the game off 1-0.    With a runner on, Tyler Repoli blasted a two run homerun to put the Graphics up 3-0 after the first inning.  The inning would end on a strike out and after this three run inning Expos starting pitcher Charlie Hesseltine would settle in and have control of the rest of the game.

To start off the bottom of the first, Sebby Grignano hit a single and then Max Giacco walked on to put two runners on for AJ Hendrickson, who belted a shot to deep center field which would drive in two runs and make it a one run ball game.  After their first three batters, the Expos were right back in it and then Javon Malone singled to move Hendrickson over to third.   Ben Schulz would single, sending Javon Malone to third and AJ Hendrickson home, making it a tie game!

JD Tyler would do the sac fly to left field, bringing in Javon Malone and the Expos were up 4-3 after one inning.   So for everything that happened offensively for the Rainbow Graphics in that first inning, the Expos literally one-upped them and the way that both of these teams have shown new life is just so refreshing to see.  When I first started going to GHTBL games, the Graphics were a team that would bobble routine plays and now this game just felt competitive.

Throughout the rest of the game there were some hits and base runners, but the defense and pitching shut most of it down.   As seems to be the way, as the game went on Charlie Hesseltine only got better, throwing more strikes and leading to more strike outs.  The Graphics brought in Roger Moyer as a reliever and he struggled at first but also settled in by the end of the game.

With the Expos up 4-3, the third inning began with a deep shot off of the right field fence by Ben Schulz, which would become a leadoff double.  JD Tyler singled to first base while the throw went to home and went way past the catcher to put the Expos up 5-3.    The Graphics would go deep in the seventh to score one final one but Hesseltine and the Expos would ultimately get out of it, giving the Graphics their first loss of the season.

Now, keep in mind it is early on in the season still (we're less than ten games in) but it seems more competitive at the top than it has in previous years.   Between the M&T Bank team, the Expos, Graphics and Orioles, it truly does feel like any of these four teams has a chance to make it to the finals of the playoffs and win it all.  Which isn't to say that the Jets also don't have a chance of winning it all again as they tend to thrive in the playoffs.

You also don't know what you could expect from either the Middletown Mets or South Windsor Phillies.   They are starting off struggling, but being a new team the Mets could turn it around or even just find their winning ways by the playoffs.  The same is true for the Phillies, as they could very easily be saving all of their wins for the playoffs.   So it's certainly exciting right now to see who is where in the standings and how much it could change by July.