Tag: east hartford jets

Twilight’s 2024 Season Preview: Can Anyone Down the Jets?

On Thursday, May 23, 2024, the GHTBL Regular Season will begin. Managers and players alike are itching to reunite with teammates at Connecticut’s top venues. Ranging from Palmer Field in Middletown to historic Muzzy Field in Bristol, the league has spared no expense in organizing top-notch baseball action at a semi-professional caliber. With the start of a new season, one question lingers: can anyone down the East Hartford Jets and stop them from winning a fifth consecutive Playoff Championship?

East Hartford Jets & Chris Kehoe, General Manager (right). Photo cred: Phil Ledwith

All eight returning clubs have been busy this offseason improving rosters and preparing to compete for both the Regular Season Title and Playoff Championship. It’s the opinion of this author that a pennant-winning club will require a combination of established veterans and young talent. Game one of Opening Day will feature the South Windsor Phillies against the Vernon Orioles at 6:00 PM McCoy Field in Vernon. Undoubtedly, the game will be witnessed by the home team’s “Left Field Legion” of diehard fans.

McCoy Field at Henry Park, Vernon, Connecticut.

The Vernon O’s, one of last year’s Regular Season co-champions, welcome the return of their offensive stars, especially 2023 GHTBL home run leader Peter Kelley. The Trubia brothers are back again. So is the O’s best all-around player and former minor leaguer, Jimmy Titus. The O’s will also feature Eastern Connecticut State University prospects, Alejandro Soriano and Hank Penders, in their second twi-loop campaign. Manager Jack Ceppetelli has headed the Orioles since 2002. Steve Krajewski, a former O’s skipper, is the current General Manager, while Kevin Powell serves as an Assistant GM and Bench Coach.

Manager Ron Pizzanello and his South Windsor Phillies seek to take down the O’s in game one, though Vernon is tough place to win. The Phillies are headlined by moundsmen Luke Mathewson and Trevor Moulton as well as longtime outfielder Jack Petrozza. Successful newcomers from last season, Justin Oquendo and Javier Irizarry, are returning for their second year. A rookie addition to South Windsor is Kaden Murphy, a pitcher from University of Saint Joseph. Gary Burnham Jr. has stayed aboard as General Manager and hitting guru.

That same Thursday night the Record-Journal Expos will travel to McKenna Field to face the East Hartford Jets, and over in Manchester at Northwest Park, the Bristol Greeners look to steal an early win against Rainbow Graphics. Both games begin at 7:00 PM.

The Jets hope to continue their dynasty with infielders Corey Plasky and Jeff Criscuolo, who have been as lineup linchpins in on both sides of the ball. Plasky earned the Most Valuable Playoff Batter award back in August of ’23. Criscuolo will reprise his role as player-manager and Chris Kehoe, who’s been a part of the Jets since 1991, remains General Manager.

Major contributors of East Hartford’s dynasty-run have been Jimmy Schult and Taylor Kosakowski. Both men have signaled their retirement from the league or at least a role reduction. Schult played 5 GHTBL seasons as two-way all-star solely for the Jets and was probably their best all-around player. Kosakowski started his twilight career in 2007 and won 2 Regular Season titles and 7 Playoff championships.

East Hartford’s opening day opponent, the Record-Journal Expos, expect to play spoilers with an experience pitching rotation. This consists of 2023 innings leader JD Tyler, their former player-manager Charlie Hesseltine, and AJ Hendrickson, their current player-manager who’s planning a return to the mound after being injured last year. Other returners are: Kyle Hartenstein, Ben Schulz, Max Giacco, Hector Gonzalez and Jason Sullivan.

Over in Bristol, the Greeners are improving. Manager Trevor Mays has established a core of younger players and new recruits. Veteran Greeners include Jon Pierce at first base, AJ Lorenzetti in the outfield, and Trevor Nohilly and Kenny Knox on the mound. New Greeners include Eric Corhouse and Jacoby Banks. Bristol’s home ballpark at Muzzy Field is both a fan and player favorite, hosting some of the largest turnouts of the Regular Season.

Heading east of the Connecticut River, the Rainbow Graphics are formidable both offensively and defensively. Tyler Repoli, Most Valuable Player of ’23, leads the offensive charge for the Graphics. Their pitching staff is headed by veterans Evan Chamberlain and Travis Salois. With a recent Liberty League championship at Ithaca College under his belt, twi-loop sophomore John Griffin is expected to pitch at an even higher level than last season. Outfielders Mark DiTomasso and Eric Brainard are planning comeback seasons with Rainbow in ’24.

M&T Bank, last season’s postseason runner-up, wants to end this summer with some hardware. They start on May 31, 2024, armed with a dominant pitching staff, including the likes of Brandon Fry, Camden Murphy, and Matt Smith. Line drive-hitting outfielder Shaun Callahan is coming off of a recent NE10 Conference Championship with the University of New Haven. Manager Tom Abbruzzese is set to guide his team in his 49th season coaching the “Bankers” franchise. New additions include Gianni Zarrilli Jr. and Tim Pfaffenbichler.

With far less experience in the league, the Middletown Mets are seeking to improve upon their inaugural campaign. The Mets offense features two impressive GHTBL sophomores, 2023 Rookie of the Year Will Kleinhenz and Albertus Magnus graduate Ron Losacano. With a bolstered pitching staff and mainstays like Alex Koletar and side-armer Dan Livingston, the Mets seek to cause problems for opposing clubs. Livingston has pitched in the GHTBL for the last 25 years.

Dan Livingston earns a GHTBL win, Hartford Courant, June 30, 1999.

The 2024 Regular Season will conclude with the Stadium Series 4 Food Banks at Dunkin’ Park. On August 1 and 2, all eight clubs will play at Connecticut’s signature minor league ballpark. Proceeds from theses games will be donated to support a local food bank designated by each GHTBL team. $830 has been raised (most contributors have come from Vernon’s “Left Field Legion”) Visit the donation page here: https://givebutter.com/ss4fb

Dunkin’ Park, Hartford, Connecticut.

Thank you to the fans, sponsors, players, managers, and families who support the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. With your continued support, the summer of ’24 will be special.

Twi-Poll: Predict the 2024 Pennant Winners

Thanks for voting and we’ll see you at the park! …Especially Aug 1 & Aug 2 at Dunkin Park.

Let’s enjoy the competitive baseball, and a great start to the summer.

Baseball Bloodlines: The Spanswick Family

The Spanswick’s of Enfield, Connecticut, were once the most talented family of pitchers in New England. Two brothers, William Henry “Bill” Spanswick Jr. and James “Jim” Spanswick as well as Jim’s son, Jeff Spanswick, excelled as amateurs and professionals. At different points in their careers, each of them also appeared in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. Let’s take a closer look at their story…

The Spanswick family lived in the Thompsonville section of Enfield. Bill’s father, William Henry “Harry” Spanswick Sr. originally hailed from Hartford, while his mother, Bonnie Spanswick was from Enfield. Harry was an employee of the Hartford Machine Screw Company, an amateur ballplayer, a local bowling champion, and a soon-to-be Little League coach. Harry and Bonnie had four children: Bill, James, Barbara and Nancy. Bill Spanswick Jr. was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on July 8, 1938, and Jim arrived three years later.

Bill Spanswick Jr., 1956.

Both Bill and Jim Spanswick developed into standout athletes at Enfield High School. The brothers once pitched no-hitters in the same week for American Legion Maciolek Post 154. Bill was a 6’3″ left-handed pitcher with a lively fastball. He threw seven consecutive shutouts, one no-hitter and seven one-hitters in his senior year of high school. Nicknamed “Span,” Bill matriculated to the College of the Holy Cross and starred on the freshman baseball team.

Enfield High School yearbook, 1956.

Then in 1958, Bill Spanswick signed with his favorite team, the Boston Red Sox. However, his quick decision was costly. He accepted the contract over the phone from Jack Onslow – a Red Sox scout and former manager of the Hartford Senators. Onslow showed up at the Spanswick residence the next morning, and the $4,000 contract was inked at the kitchen table. And yet, Major League Baseball soon revoked a bonus rule and Spanswick lost out on $60,000.

Nevertheless, Bill Spanswick traveled west to join Boston’s Class-D Midwest League affiliate in Waterloo, Iowa. He was quickly promoted to the Lexington Red Sox of the Nebraska League and posted a 7-4 record with a 3.13 ERA and a league-leading 142 strikeouts. In an August 21, 1958, game against the Superior Senators he tallied 22 strikeouts, a Nebraska League record.

Raleigh wins behind Spanswick, August 4, 1959.

The following season he advanced to the Carolina League and dominated for the Raleigh Capitals. His win-loss record soared to 15-4 behind a 2.49 earned run average. He led the league in both categories and Raleigh went on to capture the pennant. “Span” was considered a top prospect in the Red Sox organization, which included other arms such as Dick Radatz, Dave Morehead, Earl Wilson and Wilbur Wood.

That same year Jack Onslow signed Bill’s brother, Jim Spanswick to the Red Sox organization. He was another hard-throwing southpaw who chucked three consecutive no-hitters at Enfield High School. In the minors, Jim tossed a total of 407 innings with the Red Sox (1960-1962) and the Washington Senators (1963). After being released by the Winston-Salem Red Sox in 1964, he took the mound at Colt Park in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League for Herb’s Sports Shop and later for Royal Typewriter.

Meanwhile, Jim’s older brother was nearing the major leagues. Bill endured minor bumps along the way with Boston’s Triple-A affiliate, the Seattle Rainiers. In 1963, he mastered control problems to become an All-Star and the Pacific Coast League strikeout king (209). He had a 14-8 record for last place Seattle, and three of his defeats were by a difference of one run. During this time, both Spanswick brothers served their country as reserves for the United States Marines Corps.

Coming out of 1964 Spring Training in Tucson, Arizona, Red Sox Manager Johnny Pesky admired Spanswick’s ability and judged him to be ready for the majors. The Associated Press ranked Spanswick, “…the brightest pitching prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization.” When he made the team, the 25 year old lefty credited his minor league coach, Mace Brown, for helping him prepare mentally. It would be Spanswick’s only big league season.

Spanswick made his debut by tossing three innings of hitless relief at Fenway Park on April 18, 1964, against the White Sox. His first win came on May 8, versus the Washington Senators in a 9-3 victory. Bill’s teammates started calling him “Crow” for his dark and bird-like physical features. He was known to have a habit of stashing Camel cigarettes in his cap – something he may have learned in the Marines.

On June 12, 1964, Bill Spanswick faced his toughest opponents yet. Mickey Mantle and the New York Yankees beat up on the Red Sox, 10-6 at Yankee Stadium. Mantle had two hits and a pair of RBI. The contest was indicative of Span’s 1964 season. He pitched in 29 games with a bloated 6.89 ERA, 55 strikeouts, 44 walks and a 2-3 record. The Red Sox sank to eighth in the American League. He showed flashes of brilliance, but reporters described his time in Boston as a failure.

Bill Spanswick, Boston Red Sox, 1964.

In 1965, Bill Spanswick was traded to the Triple-A Toronto Maple Leafs. He earned a 6-3 record before being released again. The California Angels organization picked him up in 1966, but his career was coming to an end due to elbow injuries. He returned to Connecticut once more to be with family and took a sales job in the trucking industry. In a surprise appearance, he pitched his last game for Hamilton Standard of the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League – beating Moriarty Brothers 4-3 on June 28, 1967. Bill would later established Spanswick Trucking, which remains a family business to this day.

Bill Spanswick stayed connected to baseball through coaching. In 1991, he managed American International College to the NCAA Division-II College World Series. He was inducted into the inaugural class of the Enfield Athletic Hall of Fame as the town’s only major leaguer. Upon retiring to Naples, Florida, he became an usher for Red Sox Spring Training games at JetBlue Park. Bill Spanswick died peacefully in Florida on December 2, 2020, and was buried at Thompsonville Cemetery.

Bill Spanswick featured in Globe Sports, July 17, 1967.

I feel good about saying I pitched in the big leagues. Back then, there were only eight teams in the American League. You were one of 72 guys pitching. You had to prove yourself in the minor leagues. It’s pretty special.”

Bill Spanswick Jr.
Bill Spanswick, 1979.

Bill’s nephew and Jim’s son, Jeff Spanswick, represented the next generation of the family. Naturally, Jeff was an ace pitcher at Enfield High School. The young right-hander had expert level coaches including Enfield’s longtime skipper, Bob Bromage. Jeff suited up for American International College where his Uncle Bill was head coach. At AIC, Jeff became an ECAC All-Star and a Division-II Second Team All-American. Though he was never drafted, Jeff followed his family’s footsteps by pitching at Fenway Park in the 1992 College All-Star Game (the Division-I All-Stars defeated the Division-II & Division-III All-Stars, 6-3).

Jeff Spanswick took time off from baseball after college, and in 1994 he married Lisa Noyes of Enfield. Four years later he made a return to the diamond with the East Hartford Jets of the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League. Thanks in large part to Jeff’s 7-0 record, the Jets and their manager Hal Benson were co-champions of the 1998 Regular Season. Jeff Spanswick played for East Hartford until 2002 when he changed teams to Mr. G’s (Giansanti) of South Windsor. Mr. G’s won the 2002 Regular Season in Spanswick’s last year in baseball.

Sources

1. Bill Spanswick by Bill Nowlin, SABR Bio Project, 2021: https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/Bill-Spanswick/.

2. Bill Spanswick Dies, Enfield’s Only Major League Baseball Player by Tim Jensen, Patch.com: 2020, https://patch.com/connecticut/enfield/bill-spanswick-dies-enfields-only-major-league-baseball-player.

3. Mass Live article by David Dorsey, The News-Press, 2012: Bill Spanswick, formerly of Enfield and Boston Red Sox, finds new home at Jet Blue Stadium

Eight Twi-Loop Clubs to Return This Year

With summer around the corner, the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League is gearing up for our next Opening Day. Though an exact date has yet to be determined, you can expect more announcements as the schedule unfolds. Eight GHTBL franchises will return to action around late May of this year. The 2024 Regular Season should include another charity series at Dunkin’ Park. Each team will fundraise for a different food bank around the state. Read more about this effort called Stadium Series 4 Food Banks at Dunkin’ Park: Givebutter.com/ss4fb (more to come on this).

The twilight league continues to present a uniquely competitive experience for players of all ages. A mix of young and old teammates – local amateurs, college players, high school prospects, and ex-professionals – have developed talent, camaraderie and lifelong friendships. Deep into each season, teams seem to melt together in one way or another in pursuit of a common goal. To describe the GHTBL, one might say we’re a meritocracy operated by a large group of friends with help from umpires.

Peter Kelley, 1B, Vernon Orioles
GHTBL’s switch-hitting home run king of 2023.

Maybe that’s why GHTBL has staying power? For the last 95 years, the league has clung to a classic style of the game. Baseball purists seem to appreciate that the league requires nine players to a lineup while disallowing leniencies like metal bats, courtesy pinch-runners, and free-for-all substitutions. Whatever the reason, the tradition continues. After all, traditions are important, and they don’t go unrecognized. When a sport as beloved as baseball is played and witnessed in a pure form, virtually unchanged from years gone by, that’s something people can appreciate.

On behalf of President Holowaty and the Executive Committee, enjoy the rest of your off-season and here’s to another summer!

To apply for a roster spot, players are asked to fill out a Player Application found at GHTBL.org/join. Here’s a list of our current teams and managers:

League Management









GHTBL Executive Committee

Jack Ceppetelli
Treasurer
Wes Ulbrich Secretary
Wes Ulbrich
Secretary
Ryan Ruggiero GHTBL Assistant Secretary
Ryan Ruggiero
Assistant Secretary




Back in 1979, Gene Johnson of Moriarty Brothers in Manchester was bestowed with the “Player of the Half Century Award” by the GHTBL Hall of Fame. Here’s Gene (right) accepting the award from his teammate, Peter Sala (left).



GREATER
HARTFORD
TWILIGHT
BASEBALL
LEAGUE


Jets Soar to Four Straight Playoff Championships

The East Hartford Jets are GHTBL’s 2023 Playoff Champion! They have now won their fourth consecutive postseason. Jim Schult was once again the ace on the mound for East Hartford. His pitching performances were unmatched.

In two complete games against M&T Bank, Schult gave up just 7 hits over 14 innings while striking out 24 opposing batters. He has been a consistent two-way player (also an outfielder and DH) for this Jets dynasty.

As for other major contributors, East Hartford’s shortstop, Jeff Criscuolo, earned his sixth career playoff title and his first as player-manager. Additional leadership was provided by General Manager Chris Kehoe who served as Third Base Coach. Kehoe is the longest contributing member of the Jets (since 1991).

Corey Plasky had an amazing postseason to match his torrid hitting pace during the Regular Season. At one point Plasky made a diving play at second base to save two runs in their semi-final game against M&T Bank.

Manny Alejandro, the player with the most seasons as a Jet, was a very reliable starting pitcher. First year player Darrion Williams was just as impressive with several complete game appearances on the mound.

Relief pitcher and Twi-loop veteran, Taylor Kosakowski has now won seven GHTBL Playoff Championships, a league-high among active players. A balanced mix of older and younger members of the team has been a winning formula.

Congratulations to this year‘s championship team as well as the other clubs who competed deep into the playoffs. Until next year, GHTBL extends sincere gratitude to all of our fans, players, managers and umpires for their commitment and dedication to amateur baseball.

(Featured image photograph by Phil Ledwith.)

2023 Vernon Orioles

1st Place O’s Nest 11 Straight, Leading Fight for Top Playoff Seed

After a 1-4 start to the season, the Vernon Orioles are now in first place. The O’s have won 11 consecutive games. Dan Trubia is near the top of the leaderboard with 16 RBI, Peter Kelly is tied for most home runs (3) and Jason Ray is pacing the O’s with 5 wins and a league-leading 49 strikeouts.

Vernon is one of GHTBL’s most storied franchises. The first Vernon Orioles team joined the league in 1966. Mostly due to their success in recent years under Manager Jack Ceppetelli and several returning players, the franchise has amassed a total of 10 Season Titles and 6 Playoff Championships.

Not far behind Vernon are four other teams with plenty of time to make a run. East Hartford Jets and M&T Bank are tied for second place right now. Rainbow Graphics have the most wins (13) but have dropped a few head-to-head matchups with Vernon. Per usual, Record-Journal Expos are also knocking on the door.

League note: The traditional format of the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League is to present the Regular Season and Playoffs as two separate seasons. The Regular Season dictates the seed of each team for the Playoff Tournament. No less than 5 Regular Season appearances qualifies a player for Playoffs. At the start of the Playoffs, all player stats are reset to zero and a double-elimination tournament decides a Playoff Champion.

Jeff Criscuolo Appointed Jets Manager

With three consecutive Playoff Championships under their belts, the East Hartford Jets have selected Jeff “Crisco” Criscuolo as their first-time Manager.

When he began his GHTBL career in 2012 as an infielder from Saint Anselm College, Criscuolo found immediate success. He played second base for Ferguson Waterworks under Manager Greg Annino. Criscuolo’s quick bat, dependable glove and top-end speed helped Ferguson win the Regular Season Title and a second straight Playoff Championship in his rookie year. He moved over to shortstop the following year and Ferguson captured a third consecutive Playoff Championship.

2012 Ferguson Waterworks (Criscuolo kneeling second from left).

Flash forward to 2020 and Criscuolo decided to play for the East Hartford Jets. Led by then Manager Taylor Kosakowski and General Manager Chris Kehoe, Criscuolo and other key players propelled the Jets to three straight Playoff Championships. In part due to Criscuolo, history was repeated and another Twi-loop dynasty cemented itself at the top of the league.

2019 Jeff Criscuolo GHTBL East Hartford Jets
Jeff Criscuolo, SS, East Hartford Jets, 2019.

Criscuolo, originally a native of Durham, CT, will now take over in-game managerial duties in 2023. Many returners and several first year players are rumoured to be on board with the Jets this summer. Fans and onlookers can expect steady competition against East Hartford – they are presumed to be the team to beat. When opposing teams pick their starting pitcher and fill out lineup cards the Jets will likely see their best.

2020 Pat Barnett Vernon Orioles Pitcher GHTBL

Preview: Opening Day & GHTBL’s 2023 Season

On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, the GHTBL will open its 94th season for local amateurs, student-athletes, ex-professionals and prospects. Wood bats will start cracking on Opening Day with a 6 PM matchup at Frank J. McCoy Field in Vernon between the veteran Vernon Orioles and the Manchester-based Rainbow Graphics. Jason Valliere, a longtime contributor to the Tri-County Legion program will assume in-game duties as Head Coach for Rainbow Graphics this season.

It will be anyone’s guess as to which players, new or old, will make an impact on Opening Day. One may expect the most firepower to come from players fresh off their college season, but it would be a mistake to overlook years of experience.

Dan Trubia and Tony Trubia of the O’s and Evan Chamberlain of Graphics have nearly 60 years of combined experience of twilight ball. At the same time, it will be interesting to see how rookie players fare for both teams and throughout the league this season.

The second game of Opening Day will begin at 7 PM at Rotary Field in South Windsor. The Meriden-based Record-Journal Expos will play the South Windsor Phillies under the lights at one of Greater Hartford’s most unsung baseball diamonds. You’d be hard-pressed to find any player who doesn’t enjoy playing at Rotary Field.

A core group for Manager Ron Pizzanello and the South Windsor Phillies since forming in 2018 has included Aedin Wadja, Jake Petrozza, Patrick McMahon and a few others returning in 2023. AJ Hendrickson, 2022 GHTBL MVP, has stepped into the Expos manager role in place of Charlie Hesseltine, who had served as manager since 2017. Hesseltine has been a dominant pitcher for Meriden since 2004 and will continue to pitch for the team this year.

Over in East Hartford, the 3X Playoff Champion Jets will take flight on Thursday, May 25 at home against their main foe, the Vernon Orioles. O’s Manager Jack Ceppetelli will square off against the Jets and their newly re-appointed Manager Chris Kehoe. Both Ceppetelli and Kehoe are the most tenured GHTBL contributors behind Tom Abbruzzese – who is going into his 48th year as manager of the “Bankers” franchise – now named M&T Bank.

There is however, a newcomer in charge of the recently consolidated Middletown Mets. A sixteen year old named Ryan Ruggiero of Xavier High School will become the youngest manager to lead a GHTBL team. As an Assistant Coach for the Hartford Colts in 2022, Ruggiero welcomed the opportunity and the idea of moving the franchise to Middletown – a closer location for its players and an upgraded home field with Palmer Field and Buzzy Levin Field. Fixtures for the Mets are expected to be Albertus Magnus standout Sean Jefferson and former Keene State right-hander Alex Koletar on the mound.

The Bristol Greeners are entering their third GHTBL season and have managed to book one of Connecticut’s best ballparks, Muzzy Field, for a majority of their home games. They return under the direction of another young manager, Trevor Mays, in his second year at the helm. New additions to the Greeners will include Gabe Zamorano Jr., a freshman at University of St. Joseph and Robert Bibisi, a graduate of Utica University.

Last but not least, M&T Bank are once again expected to have the league’s best left side of the infield: former professional Willy Yahn at shortstop and Eastern Connecticut’s Brendan Lynch at third base. Along with a contingency of players from Elms College, Tom Abbruzzese seeks to regain his title-winning ways in a new sublimated, double-sided, M&T Bank uniform.

Note: a new uniform rule will take effect this season as voted on by GHTBL managers. Any player out of uniform (wrong jersey, wrong hat, different color pants, etc.) will earn their team a $50 league fine.

On behalf of President Holowaty, thank you to all of our league sponsors, fans, families, spouses and friends who support the twilight league!

Jets Soar, Earn 3rd Straight Pennant

Schult leads East Hartford Jets to third straight Twilight League playoff title
By Adam Betz, Journal Inquirer

MIDDLETOWN — Jim Schult is no stranger to success on the baseball diamond.

He had a standout career at Eastern Connecticut State University, including being named the 2011 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division III National Player of the Year.

Since joining the East Hartford Jets of the Greater Hartford Twilight League in 2019 “after being on the couch for a few years,” that success has remained.

And it gained another example Tuesday.

Schult finished with two hits, two RBIs, a run scored, and was the winning pitcher as No. 2 East Hartford rallied to beat the third-seeded Vernon Orioles 5-4 to win their third straight GHTBL playoff championship at Palmer Field.

“It was hard to win the first one. It was really hard to repeat,” the 32-year-old Fishkill, New York native said. “We had a special group of guys that were able to battle through the adversity. … I’m not sure I have the best words to describe how I’m feeling right now, but it means a lot.”

Schult pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief. He allowed two runs on four hits, struck out seven, and walked one. At the plate, he was the only Jet with multiple hits.

Jim Schult, Pitcher/Outfielder, East Hartford Jets

“He leads us by example and he makes everyone around him better,” East Hartford player/manager Taylor Kosakowski said of Schult. “He’s the guy you want on the mound or at the plate in a big spot. He’s the guy you want to see up there.”

The Jets, who were co-regular season champions, finish 24-7. They lost their first game of the double-elimination tournament [to the Hartford Colts] before rattling off six straight wins, including a 5-1 win over the Orioles on Monday to force Tuesday’s winner-take-all game.

“It says a lot about who we are,” designated hitter Andy Pelc said. “I feel like that first game, even though it didn’t go our way, put a chip back on our shoulder. I think that’s the reason we’re here today.”

The Orioles were making their seventh straight championship game appearance Tuesday night. They finish 20-9.

“I’m really proud of how we played a much better game tonight,” manager Jack Ceppetelli said. “We swung the bats well against a couple of the premier pitchers in the league. We just ran into one bad inning.”

Jack Ceppetelli, Manager, Vernon Orioles

Vernon held a 2-0 lead and threatened to break the game open with the bases loaded and two down in the top of the third.

But Schult came in from right field and needed only one pitch to end the inning.

Manny Alejandro led off the bottom of the frame with a single, the first Jets’ baserunner.

East Hartford would load the bases, with the help of a two-out error, to set the stage for Schult. He sent the first pitch from starter Bill Riggieri to center for a two-run single to tie the game.

“I was just looking for a good pitch to hit,” Schult said. “I worked the count in my prior at-bat, so I got to see some pitches from him. It just so happened that I got a mistake with the first one.”

Janiel Ramirez drew a bases-loaded walk to break the tie and Pelc added a two-run single as East Hartford brought 10 batters to the plate in the inning to make it 5-2.

Janiel Ramirez, Outfielder, East Hartford Jets

The Orioles trimmed the deficit to one in the top of the sixth when Ian Halpin sent a two-run double to the right-field fence.

He finished with three hits Tuesday.

“That’s a huge hit to get us close in the sixth,” Ceppetelli said. “We just couldn’t quite get there.”

Schult regrouped and struck out the next batter looking to end the inning.

“I’ve got a whole bunch of guys in the dugout that are counting on me to get out of the inning,” Schult said. “We’re all hurting, we’re all tired at this point in the year. You just want to push through it. Like Bryan (Albee) threw 20-something innings for us during the playoffs, I wasn’t going to let him down. I wasn’t going to let anyone down. Just concentrating and finishing the job.”

Vernon jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when Nick Roy scored on an error and Tyler Pogmore brought home Halpin with an RBI single.

Peter Kelley finished with two hits for Vernon. Riggieri took the loss. He allowed five unearned runs on five hits while striking out two and walking two over four innings.

East Hartford starter Albee, a member of Eastern’s National Championship team this year, allowed two runs — one of them earned — and struck out two in 2 2/3 innings.

2022 Playoff Championship winners, East Hartford Jets with Bill Holowaty, GHTBL President (right) and Andy Baylock, GHTBL Vice President (left).

Tuesday’s win was a bittersweet one for Kosakowski, who has managed the team since it re-formed in 2019 after folding a year prior. The Berlin native said he’s stepping down to devote more time to his family.

“Obviously, it’s very emotional,” he said. “Sixteen years playing in this league, it’s hard to come by a championship, let alone be a part of something this special. So, I hope I can continue to help out and contribute to the team as much as I can. I’m a school psychologist, and they always teach you to leave them better than you found them. For me, that’s what I’ve aimed to do with this team and I hope that I did that.”

Taylor Kosakowski, Player-manager, East Hartford Jets

Orioles, Jets & Expos Feud for 1st Place

Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League is nearly halfway through the 2022 Regular Season and once again, the Vernon Orioles are up to their usual habits; winning ball games. Yet the two-time reigning Playoff Champions, the East Hartford Jets, are currently tied with the Orioles for first place. The Jets also have the upperhand in terms of runs scored and runs allowed.

Then there’s the Record-Journal Expos, who are only a game behind from a three-way tie atop the standings. They have two wins on the year against the Jets in games decided by one-run margins. Expos also have a slightly easier schedule in the second half of the 2022 season.

Here are the remaining games between these three clubs:

See the full schedule at www.GHTBL.org/Schedule.

Expos Clip Jets, 4-3

By Joshua Macala
raised || by || cassettes

Baseball is such a wild game. After watching a GHTBL game on Wednesday in the rain, then being rained out on Thursdaynwith the sun shining, I thought for sure this would be the game without rain. A big, dark cloud came over Ceppa Field but it didn’t threaten any rain at first. Part way through the game, that same cloud opened up and the rain went from a drizzle to near downpour. Yes, for the second time in week I was caught in the rain watching a baseball game.

The Record-Journal Expos and East Hartford Jets both came into this game undefeated. The Jets had played one more game than the Expos, so the Jets were 3-0 while the Expos were 2-0. What’s notable about their records? Well, had the game not been postponed due to weather the night before, the Expos may have beaten the Bristol Greeners, so both teams could have gone into this game at 3-0. But this rain really has been something else this week and it amazes me that the baseball continues during the deluge.

In the top of the first inning, Jets shortstop Jeff Criscuolo made it to third base but after two strikeouts from Expos ace pitcher Justin Marks the inning would come to an end without any runs. The bottom of the first inning was a different story entirely for the Expos. Kyle Hartenstein was walked onto first base. Jason Sullivan hit a huge double to put the runners onto second and third. And then AJ Hendrickson came up to the plate and smashed a three run homerun.

Knowing where that ball went over the fence near left field, I was looking for it near the road but couldn’t find it. Someone was sitting on the road in their car and there was another random person just walking by. I assumed at that point perhaps someone had just been like “Oh! A baseball!” and picked it up. But I followed what I felt like was the flight path and sure enough I found the home run ball that Hendrickson smashed. It was across the street and in the yard of the house there.

The rest of this game was a stalemate. Jets pitcher Cole Lalli seemed to have two modes: either throwing all strikes and thus a strikeout occurred or throwing all balls and thus, a walk. It was either hard down the middle or it was bouncing in front of the plate. Both teams played a tight defense leading up until the final portion of the game. The top of the third saw two great catches by Will Kszywanos and Justin Marks, while runners got on base for both teams but were unable to score. Marks stuck out the side in the fourth inning – and into the fifth, two more strikeouts probably made him the player of this game.

The Expos scored another run in the bottom of the fifth making it 4-0 (they ended up needing that insurance run). The Jets then plated a runner in the top of the sixth as Charlie Hesseltine would come in to pitch. As the game headed into the bottom of the sixth, the rain picked up. The rain started off where you just felt some droplets and it wasn’t too big of a deal, but it quickly grew consistent. If you were in it for a minute or so you’d be soaked. Nearly everyone in the stands took cover where they could and somehow the game persisted. I’m always worried about the ball being able to be gripped in the rain, but the Expos and Jets played on.

At one point, one of the Jets lost control and their bat went flying because it was wet. This felt like one of those signs that playing in the rain was a tad dangerous but no one was stopping the game. The umpires were getting as soaked as the players! In the bottom of the sixth it felt as if the inning was cut short and I felt like the game was either going into a rain delay or being called early but apparently there were three outs. The Jets put up a run in the top of the sixth and had the momentum they to have a chance at winning.

In the last inning, with the score at 4-1 in favor of the Expos, Charlie Hesseltine had a hard time controlling his fastball. At one point, the ball even got away from catcher AJ Hendrickson. It was a bit of a mess and back-to-back doubles scored two more runs, putting the game at 4-3 and the Expos still leading. The last out came as a strikeout and it sealed the fate for the Jets, who were quite amused in the dugout with the way this game was going. While the rain was also making it darker and hard to see, it was making it just so difficult to control the ball and I think that was really the story of the end of the game here.

Now let’s be realistic. The Expos were at home. If the Jets managed to either tie this game or go ahead, then the Expos would still have their final at bats and the Jets would have been the one’s pitching in the rain. It seemed like it was a lot easier to hit the ball while the rain was coming down than it was to control a fastball. The rain actually started to let up a little bit before the game ended, but it certainly did feel like a factor in the end of this game. A 3-0 game turned into a 4-3 final after the rain and it made for an exciting ending.

With the Orioles taking a 1-0 loss to the Jets, this game was actually a battle between the last two undefeated teams in the GHTBL. By winning this game, the Expos now are solely in first place and the only team yet to face defeat. 

In the week ahead they’re looking at two opponents they’ve already beaten, the Wallingford Cardinals, in Wallingford on Wednesday night and the South Windsor Phillies will come back to Ceppa Field on Friday, June 10th. However, before all of that the Rainbow Graphics come to Ceppa Field for the next Expos game on June 7th, which could be interesting because the Graphics have a history of being a tough opponent for the Expos. Rainbow Graphics are also 3-1 on the year so it should be a good game to watch.

Jets Top Orioles, Snagging Second Straight Playoff Championship

On August 15, 2021, the East Hartford Jets only needed a single game to tame the Vernon Orioles in the Playoff Championship round of GHTBL’s 2021 Playoff Tournament. Player-manager Taylor Kosakowski fielded his best-hitting lineup, although Jeff Criscuolo had to come out of the game in the early stages due to a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, Manager Jack Ceppetelli of the O’s played his trusted group of veterans, who had already earned the 2021 Regular Season title. On average, both the Orioles and the Jets are comprised of some of the most experienced twilight league players, but the Jets are the younger team when compared to the O’s.

Age would not be much of factor, however, since quality performances came from players young and old. Jets starting pitcher Bryan Albee (21) and Orioles starter Matt Curtis (19) showed stamina and strength amidst long, hard-fought outings. Albee earned a 6-inning win while allowing only 2 runs.

Former independent leaguers and veteran players like Orioles shortstop, Tony Trubia and Jets outfielder/pitcher, Jimmy Schult have led their clubs by example during the summer and throughout the playoffs.Trubia and Schult each had impactful RBIs in the first O’s vs. Jets matchup at the semi-final stage of the playoffs. Schult would again come through with a timely base hit in the championship game leading to a 2-run double by Jets first baseman, Jack Blake.

Although Matt Curtis pitched a complete game, his strong effort would fall short of the Jets 6th inning rally. Schult came into the game for the save in the bottom of the 7th inning. Despite a base hit by Tony Trubia, he would be the only O’s baserunner during the game’s last frame. Schult struck out Ian Halpin on an inside pitch and then made Tyler Pogmore swing and miss for the final out.

Congratulations to Taylor Kosakowski, Chris Kehoe and all of the East Hartford Jets on their second consecutive playoff championship. Can’t wait until next year!

August 2 – Crush Cancer Night at Dunkin’ Donuts Park

On Monday, August 2, 2021, the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League will host a doubleheader at at Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford. The event, presented by Cigna, will be the league’s 5th annual charity series. This year, ticket proceeds will be donated to Connecticut Cancer Foundation and the Brian Peer Memorial Scholarship.

  • 6:00 PM, People’s United Bank vs. Bristol Greeners
  • 8:00 PM, East Hartford Jets vs. Hartford Colts

Tickets will be available at the Main Gate for $10 per adult and free for kids 14 and under.

RSVP on Facebook at https://fb.me/e/2rXIzjCCg.

Can’t attend? Donate here: givebutter.com/embed/c/ghtbl.


About Connecticut Cancer Foundation

Connecticut Cancer Foundation was founded in 1987 by Connecticut native John C. Ellis, a former catcher for the New York Yankees, who played Major League Baseball for 13 years. John lost his sister, brother and sister-in-law to lymphoma. He is a survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma that was diagnosed before John reached 40.  Fortunately, John survived and CCF was born with the idea of raising funds through sports with the help of sports celebrities. CCF has flourished under the guidance of John’s wife, Jane G. Ellis, President and Executive Director of CCF.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is connecticut-cancer-foundation-img-27.jpg
John and Jane Ellis, Founders of Connecticut Cancer Foundation.

Through the CT Cancer Patient Assistance Program, CCF helps Connecticut families requesting assistance through referrals from oncology social workers from hospitals, cancer treatment centers and hospices throughout the state. For the past 34 years, CCF has quietly granted over $6.4 million to more than 7,000 Connecticut families dealing with the financial hardship that often follows a cancer diagnosis. In addition, the Foundation has donated over $2.4 million to support ongoing cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.


About the Brian Peer Memorial Scholarship

This college scholarship is in memory of Brian Peer of Windsor, Connecticut. He was a Windsor High School varsity baseball player from 1996 until 1998, earning All-Conference honors as a senior. He also played American Legion Baseball in Windsor earning All-Zone Honors in 1998. He continued on to Manchester Community College earning All-New England Junior College All Star recognition then on to Rhode Island College, being named Co-Captain his Senior Year. He continued to play in area adult leagues through 2018. The scholarship is awarded each year to a Windsor High School baseball player who will be attending college.

Brian Peer played in the GHTBL from 2004 to 2018 and is remembered as a good teammate and team leader.

GHTBL Gives Back to the Greater Hartford Community

On Sunday, July, 9, 2017 the GHTBL hosted the first ever charity series at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Four games were played and $5,641 in ticket proceeds were donated to Hartford’s Camp Courant. On June 21 and 22 of 2018 the league hosted a pair of doubleheaders that raised $4,500 for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. In 2019, the Twilight League held another day at Dunkin’ Donuts Park and raised $7,000 for a Multiple Sclerosis charity named MS4MS. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the league managed to play a shortened season in 2020, including a doubleheader at Dunkin’ Donuts Park that raised $2,000 for the new Johnny Taylor Field in Hartford’s Colt Park.

Camp Courant Kids Day at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, 2017

Back! Jets Take Aim at Orioles in Championship Rematch

On June 2, 2021, the East Hartford Jets, Twi-loop playoff champions of 2020 will battle the Vernon Orioles at McKenna Field, East Hartford at 7 PM.

The Jets will feature many of the same players from last season such as shortstop Jeff Criscuolo, pitcher/outfielder Jimmy Schult and player-manager Taylor Kosakowski. Some new faces will include Cole Lalli and Jack Blake who hail from Eastern Connecticut State University.

The Orioles have a trusted core of veteran players who are expected to return in 2021. Manager Jack Ceppetelli has also recruited a handful of new players. Without disclosing specific names, Vernon’s roster will likely be one of the best in Connecticut’s amateur ranks.

Each GHTBL franchise will play 18 Regular Season games this year. A 10-team double-elimination tournament (maximum of 19 league-wide playoff games) is scheduled to begin on August 3, 2021.

Ten Twi-loop franchises will compete this summer: Bristol Greeners, East Hartford Jets, Hartford Colts, Malloves Jewelers (Middletown), People’s United Bank (Wethersfield), Rainbow Graphics (Manchester), Record-Journal Expos (Meriden), South Windsor Phillies, Ulbrich Steel (Cheshire) and the Vernon Orioles.

The GHTBL allows players to apply for a roster spot until July 15th by filling out a Player Application at www.GHTBL.org/Join.