Baseball Review //
Bristol Greeners, 2
Vernon Orioles, 3
M&T Bank, 4
Record-Journal Expos, 1
August 8th, 2023
at Palmer Field, Middletown CT
Playoffs Round 1

Game 1 Box Score :::

Game 2 Box Score :::

Additional photos can be found here :::

The Playoffs were put on hold after the rain on Monday and it only seems fitting as the theme in the 2023 Season (and for all of summer baseball really) seems to be that dreaded rain out.   With the Playoffs just getting started, it didn't look like any game was going to be better than any other but it was exciting to think about a lower seed upsetting a higher seed.   All of the four games played seemed to be close and intense and as such it was really some of the best baseball out there on a Tuesday night in August.

The first of two games at Palmer Field saw the first place (tied) Vernon Orioles taking on the last place (only won one game) Bristol Greeners.   Right away, in the first inning, Josh Nohilly hit a two run homerun to right field and the Greeners were up.   I was seated at the time between the fans of both the Greeners and the Orioles so it was funny to hear the Greeners fans cheering while the Orioles fans tried to reconcile with the fact that they hadn't had the chance for offense yet.

This first game went by fairly quick and there were a lot of three-up-three-down innings.   In the bottom of the fourth inning, Peter Kelley singled in Dan Trubia for the first Orioles run of the game.   This cut the lead in half and made it seem like the Greeners might not be upsetting the first place team after all.  

In the bottom of the sixth, thinking this might go into the bottom of the seventh or that it could even tie somehow, with two outs, Dan Trubia brought in Ian Halpin to tie the game.   This felt like the end for the Greeners, who hadn't scored since that first inning.   This brought Peter Kelley back up to the plate and Kelley would drive in Dan Trubia for the go ahead and eventual winning run.  

Two things to take away here from the Vernon Orioles win and that is the incredible pitching of Jason Ray, who held the Greeners to just two runs after that initial homerun in the first inning.   Giving up that homerun, giving up two runs, that's something a pitcher should prepare for and just hope that the offense can back them up.   Jason Ray really pitched a gem of a game here and should be recognized for that.

The other Orioles point to make here is that the offense in terms of runs scored was by Peter Kelley and Dan Trubia.  I do truly believe that if the Vernon Orioles win the whole thing this year that Peter Kelley should be in consideration for MVP.    He lead the league in homeruns during the regular season and his offense here was just so critical for this game- it was really make or break for the Orioles.

The one thing I can say of the Bristol Greeners is that for six innings they were winning over the first place team in the league and almost upset them.   Trevor Nohilly pitched a good game and this was a lot closer of a game than I thought it would be.   When you consider that this was the first place vs the last place team and it was decided by only one run, that really speaks a lot about the Greeners and how well they played this game.

Close games were what was on the schedule and the Record-Journal Expos felt that against M&T Bank.   Most games were a team at the top versus a team at the bottom, but this perhaps the most evenly matched game because both teams were very close in their records and were both floating around first place throughout the entire season.  This was really one of the toughest games in the first round because any other team winning (Greeners, Mets, Phillies) could've been considered an upset.

JD Tyler took the Expos through three scoreless innings and then gave up a two run bomb to Gunnar Johnson in the fourth inning.    This is, as I said in the first game, something a pitcher must prepare for, but that's also relying on the offense.   The Expos recently swept M&T in a doubleheader but I knew that the one pitcher the Expos have always struggled against is Camden Murphy.   

I'm not sure what it is about Camden Murphy and I'm not saying this in any official capacity, but it seems like every time the Expos play against M&T Bank and Camden Murphy is the pitcher, the Expos lose.   He just has their number and shuts them down offensively.   He is, of course, a great pitcher overall and can dish it out against other teams as well, but it's just something about him and the Expos that they just can't seem to overcome.

In the sixth inning, Jordan Jeroszko doubled in a run with no outs.  A fly out to center field would bring in the fourth and final run on a sacrifice, putting M&T up 4-0.   The Expos would try and rally, fighting until the end, as Mike Gulino hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the seventh but the offense just wasn't enough to overcome the pitching of Camden Murphy.

I will say that from a completely unobjectively point being at Palmer Field allowed us to sit behind home plate- something I usually don't do- and it was strange to see a pitch thrown where it looked like it just missed the plate and it was called a strike but then another pitch was thrown in the same spot and it was called a ball.   This was in a row too.  So I don't understand if the one before it was a strike how the one after it was a ball.    The umpires seemed a little bit confused as to where the strike zone was and from my vantage I could see that clearly.

So now the Expos move down to the losers bracket to play the Bristol Greeners at 8pm tonight at McKenna Field in East Hartford.  The South Windsor Phillies also play the Middletown Mets at 6pm at McKenna.  Those are both elimination games, so of those four teams only two will be left standing tomorrow.

At Palmer Field, the winners bracket will see the Rainbow Graphics take on the East Hartford Jets at 6pm with the Vernon Orioles taking on M&T Bank at 8pm.   Some exciting match ups with the top teams at Palmer Field and the suspense of elimination at McKenna is making this one of the best playoff tournaments in a while.  Of the three teams typically in the playoffs last (Orioles, Jets, M&T) at least one of them is going to the losers bracket tonight and I wouldn't count out the Rainbow Graphics this year either.


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