Thursday, June 22, 2023

Baseball Review //
Vernon Orioles, 10
Record-Journal Expos, 7
June 20th, 2023
at Ceppa Field, Meriden CT
(GHTBL)


Official box score here :::

https://www.ghtbl.org/event/record-journal-expos-vs-vernon-orioles/


Additional photos can be found here :::

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1269120227151529&type=3


This was the second meeting of these teams this season and the first one took place in Vernon.    It was a cool summer night and you knew this game was going to be exciting because on the first pitch of the game the Orioles' Jordan English hit a homerun over the left field fence.   This would put the O's up 1-0 right away, but the next three batters would go down in order.  

The bottom of the first inning was unlike anything I've ever seen in baseball before.  My uncle showed up right about the time this was happening, he asked me what was going on and I told him that I didn't know.   The inning started with Sebby Grignano hitting a single into center field.  Javon Malone flew out but then Jeff Massicotte was hit by pitch.  With one out, there were now runners on first and second.

Will Kszywanos would hit a fly ball just past where second and third base meet- just outside of the infield- and what looked like an easy catch was dropped.  This is when chaos ensued.  With the runners assuming it would be caught, they were then on the move and this lead to several unsuccessful run down attempts by the Orioles defense.  It was like watching something from the circus out there.

At one point, both Massicotte and Kszywanos were on first base together.   Ultimately, the ruling was that Will Kszywanos was out and then Jeff Massicotte went back to first and Sebby Grignano back to second.  This acted like the infield fly rule, but it was outside of the infield.  I had been talking with my dad about this recently- why the infield fly rule only applies to the infield.  Sure, if a shot is hit far enough to the outfield and it's dropped then the runners have time to go to their respective bases.

But if a shot is maybe halfway or so between the outfield fence and the infield then, well, this ensues.  And for a while during this, the Orioles dugout was yelling for the players on the field to throw to third (which they never did) because in theory, not catching the ball should've made it where a throw to third meant Sebby Grignano was out and a throw to second meant Jeff Massicotte was out and then Will Kszywanos would've been safe at first but that would've ended the inning.  

I definitely don't think that the Orioles missed the catch on purpose to try and attempt a double play because I think it was just miscommunication, but a team could certainly attempt something similar on purpose and the umpire in that game might not modify the infield fly rule for them.   It's an interesting thing to think about in baseball and something which I think about a bit more than I probably should.

We reset it to Sebby Grignano on second and Jeff Massicotte on first with two outs now.   AJ Hendrickson came up next, hit a shot to center field and Sebby Grignano came home to make it a 1-1 game after the first inning.   This was, as you can tell by the final score, a higher scoring game where it took longer for the innings to progress because out of seven innings there were only two when the Orioles didn't score and only three when the Expos didn't score.

In the second inning a throw past first base and then a fielder's choice brought in two more runs for the Orioles.   This had them up 3-1 going into the bottom of the second, but this would be the inning that the Expos scored their most runs.   Brendan O'Connell hit a nice shot down the first base line to single on while Brandon Hernandez walked on.  Sebby Grignano would also draw a walk to load the bases.  Javon Malone with a huge hit would drive in two runs and the game was tied again, 3-3.

Jeff Massicotte would draw a walk next, which would once again load the bases.  Will Kszywanos would single in both Malone and Grignano to make it a 5-3 game with the Expos on top.  The Orioles would change pitchers at this point, as Matt Curtis would leave the game.  Zach Donahue was in as a replacement and got out of that inning and held down the rest of the game fairly well.

The third inning was one of the only innings in which the Orioles didn't score.   The bottom of the third inning featured a solo homerun by Evan Avery, putting the Expos up 6-3.   This homerun went over the left field fence and bounced off of a tree, so I went to see if I could find it.  The funny thing is, while I was out there, I found one homerun ball from Jordan English just sitting at the bottom of the grass.  The other ball, which had ricocheted had rolled down into someone's driveway.   To see how far that Evan Avery baseball traveled was pretty neat.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Orioles would put up four runs and take the lead back.  There were a few deep doubles and the Orioles just had their hitting on point here, as they just dropped the ball where it couldn't be caught and often times got multiple bases out of it.  But the Expos kept fighting, as AJ Hendrickson would score on a wild pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning, tying the game once again at 7-7.

After the fourth inning, the Expos offense shut down.   In the top of the fifth, Zach Donahue helped himself with a first pitch homerun that I was not going to walk to get because it was growing colder outside.    A triple by Ryan Bagdasarian would bring in another run and after five it was 9-7.   In the top of the sixth, Jack Halpin would hit a double to plate the final run of the game with the score ending at 10-7.   

This game really felt like it was about fighting and I would give props to the Orioles even if they lost.   The way both teams were scoring it felt very much like an idea of "Anything you can do I can do better", where they would just try and out match each other.  I get that is the point of baseball, but to see them so close and always within reach of each other just made this game exciting.  

I've said this before, but I truly do feel as if the Expos of seasons past might have topped off at four or five runs and just had their offense shut down the rest of the game.  The way that they kept scoring and taking the lead just proved this is a different team this year, and a better team at that.   When all of the pieces come together for the playoffs, the Expos might end up surprising some of the other teams.

Speaking of surprising other teams, the Rainbow Graphics still sit atop the standings with no signs of slowing down.  M&T Bank is in second with the Expos right behind them and then the Orioles and Jets are both at 5-4.   It'll be interesting to see who the Top 4 teams are at the end of the season and if they are able to make it to the semi-finals because right now the Orioles and Jets are both on that cusp and possibly not making it as far as they did last season, if the playoffs were at the end of June and not July.

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