By Paul Augeri
MIDDLETOWN – Palmer Field flooded for the first time in decades after Tropical Storm Elsa soaked the area with several inches of unrelenting rain on Friday.
Brian Young, Middletown’s superintendent of parks, said that the city will wait for the Coginchaug River to recede before it can assess whether the playing field has incurred any damage. The river runs behind the outfield area of the park.
“The water has to go down first before we can get in there and see things for ourselves,” he said Friday.
Main photo: Palmer Field flooded on Friday from rain brought by Tropical Storm Elsa. This view is from the left-field corner of the park. (Photo by Paul Augeri)
That could happen as soon as Saturday.
Water inundated both the concession stand and the ticket booths at both ends of the park.
Middletown Post 75’s schedule has been in flux for more than a week due to a series of weather-related postponements. The 75ers last played a full game on June 28, a 6-1 win over East Hartford/Manchester, and like most American Legion teams in Zone 3, are now facing a backlog of games.
The 75ers’ games at Palmer Field on Friday (vs. RCP) and Sunday (vs. Enfield) will be rescheduled at some point.
“Right now we play every night next week except Thursday,” coach Dan Botti said, “and that could change with even more rain forecasted.”
The team’s immediate goal is to play its first 18 zone games by July 23. The 18 count toward seeding in this year’s Legion regional qualifying tournament, which is scheduled to start on July 24.
“There’s going to be a lot of doubleheaders,” Botti said.
Middletown is scheduled to play RCP at Cromwell High School on Monday (5:45pm), which would have been the back end of a home-and-home. Cromwell High does not have lights, so it’s likely that the teams will seek to reschedule their second meeting if and when Palmer Field can host.
Middletown has played eight zone games to date. The 75ers are 5-3 and trail RCP (9-1), NCL-Windsor Locks/Windsor (7-3) and Ellington (7-4).
Middletown and other clubs now have to confront the challenge of how to plot their pitching with so many games stacked up.
“We’re probably going to have to figure out something with the zone with the schedule,” Botti said. “Us and RCP both have a good amount of pitchers, but if we’re playing eight or nine games in a week it’s too much. Kids have to rest and we’re not going to overthrow anyone. Now we’ll have to look at guys we’d never consider throwing that we have to consider using because games are so packed together.”