(Norwich CT) The winner escaped the cellar.
On this summer evening it was the Connecticut Tigers (5-10) leaving the basement after a 5-4 win over the Staten Island Yankees (4-11) on Saturday in New York-Penn League action.
For the second straight night it was miscues by the Yankees in CT’s last at-bats that settled the outcome.
Tonight, Staten Island relief pitcher Chris Morris mishandled a bunt to load the bases with Tigers and then walked Luke Sherley on four pitches to hand the home team the winning run and end the game.
This was my first look at Class A Short Season baseball and my first trip to Dodd Stadium in Norwich.
When I realized, several weeks ago, that I would be in Connecticut, I looked for a game to get to and discovered the Connecticut Tigers.
CT media guy Kevin Gehl took care of the arrangements for me.
Dodd Stadium had the “Field of Dreams” feel to me. Why? It was out in the middle of nowhere! Listed as in Norwich, there was nothing “city” about it. There were a few houses nearby but that was it.
When Eric Wagaman of Staten Island hit a homer over the left-field fence it flew into the woods, not off a house, or cars, or the other usual things beyond baseball fences.
The field was in good shape with the normal collection of advertisements on the perimeter walls. I am always confronted with those ads when my camera tries to figure out whether a player or an ad are to be in focus.
In looking over the roster information I quickly realized how young the players on these teams are. Many of them were drafted in 2017 and some of them this year. Not a great amount of paid-baseball experience.
I can assure you that the pitchers I saw were well ahead of the hitters! Strikeouts galore. Sixteen Tigers and fourteen Yankees were rung up.
I do my homework so that I can get pictures of as many prospects as is possible. Two of the Yankees prospects (Matt Sauer #10 and Juan De Paula #28) are pitchers and I missed them. Matt pitched the day before. The Tigers only Top Thirty prospect at Norwich is catcher Sam McMillan and he was rested for this game. So I concentrated a bit on the Yankees 23rd prospect outfielder Canaan Smith.
The Yankees were the best possible remedy for Connecticut’s 10-game losing streak as the Tigers swept the three-game series.
One thing I learned was that SI manager Lino Diaz has a loud voice. After his Yankees fell apart in the field, his voice was easy to hear as he ranted at his team when they came off the field. I’m trying to imagine a major league manager doing such a thing! And I can’t.
The play that riled up the manager happened in the second inning. CT had a runner on second with one out. The batter struck out but the 3rd strike was dropped as the runner on second tried to steal third. The catcher threw to third too late. The third baseman then threw to first trying to get the struck-out batter. The first baseman caught the ball but lost it as the runner ran into the tag dislodging the ball. The runner on third scored. I guess the manager had several reasons to be upset!
Eric Wagaman of SI hit one high and deep into the trees in left in the third inning. I can’t imagine a park, including Fenway, that would have contained his blast.
For a team that has struggled in the early going, it was good to see some happiness in the CT dugout.
The Tigers Teddy Hoffman had a two-run double and teammate Jose Quero followed with an RBI single. That twosome was at the bottom of the Connecticut batting order.
Isrrael De La Cruz has been CT’s best hitter in the early going but he too was on the bench for this one. I did get him in the dugout.
Dodd Stadium is one of those parks where you, as a spectator/photographer/player, need to be paying attention. Why? There is very little protection from batted balls. No fencing over the dugouts and down the lines. The announcer rightly alerted folks to tune in to the action. I didn’t see anyone get hit but I did see a foul liner streak just over the concession stands on the concourse. Someone serving or someone in line was fortunate.
Hadlock Field (Portland Sea Dogs) now has netting along their baselines. The folks at Dodd might want to consider it.
The more I’m in dugouts the more I wish I knew Spanish. So many players speak it.
Getting to the stadium (for the first time) from New Haven was an adventure. The signs on 395 were posted for the stadium but my GPS chose an “indirect” route. Going home was better.
I liked the baseball I saw. It is refreshing to see players eager to please. Autograph signing isn’t a struggle. Quite a few Yankee fans chasing signatures. Canaan Smith was the big draw.
Connecticut Tigers baseball is good entertainment at an affordable price.
I try to avoid stadium food but when it is readily available in the press box I cave in. Did I really need the pizza?
I was alert enough to get a nice picture of CT pitcher Gio Arriera. Gio was the winner the day before. Today he was available for pictures in the Tigers’ Den.
I continue to wait for a mascot to outrun one of the young attendees. I try to analyze the races to see where they get lost. In today’s run, I think that the Tiger mascot was overmatched. His opponent had plenty of speed and once he had the lead it was over. In my opinion, the race was given away at the start. The young opponent was past the first-base bag and heading to right field but benevolently the Tiger mascot redirected him. That’s all this speedy kid needed! Maybe next time.
Again, thanks to Kevin Gehl for making my visit possible. I really enjoyed it.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)