Bravehearts still in the FCBL playoff chase

As the FCBL season hits the All-Star break the Worcester Bravehearts still find themselves in the thick of the playoff race for the eighth and final spot. Worcester officially finished the week 3-2 due to a suspended game on Sunday, a game they trailed in when the field in Pittsfield became unplayable due to rain. The week was good enough to close the gap and give the Bravehearts a much better chance of securing that eighth place finish. Unfortunately for Worcester their upcoming schedule for this week doesn’t have them facing any of the teams their involved in the playoff race with, so they’ll need a little help after the All-Star game if they’re going to continue their run at the post season.

On Tuesday the Bravehearts visited the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs, one of the teams they’re battling with for the eighth and final playoff spot on the FCBL with, and it was a record setting night for Zack Tower as he became the first player in franchise history to hit three home runs in a game, and knocked in a Bravehearts record seven runs in the contest in a 11-7 win for Worcester. In the top of the first, after Ian Strom had scored on a passed ball, Tower would have his first round tripper of the night with a three run blast. In the top of the second Alex Sanchez had a two-run homer for a six run Worcester lead, but Wachusett put up two runs of their own in the home half of the inning and then another in the third to cut the Bravehearts lead in half. In the bottom of the fourth Max DiTondo homered for the Dirt Dawgs to drive in two, and the Worcester lead was down to one. Tower got three of those runs back in one swing in the top of the fifth for his second three run homer on the night. Wachusett catcher Chris Stanford homered in the bottom half to keep his team close, but the Bravehearts would answer back with an unearned run in the next half inning. In the bottom of the eighth the Dirt Dawgs would get an unearned run, but Tower put the nail in the coffin with a solo blast in the top of the ninth. Derek Gibree was 3-4 with three runs scored for Worcester.

It was off to Bristol to take in the Blues Wednesday, and with a couple unearned fifth inning runs, an RBI single by Zack Tower in the sixth, and then Ian Strom with an RBI single of his own in the seventh it looked like the Bravehearts would roll on to an easy victory. Only nothing has come easy for Worcester this season. After an eighth inning double by Blues center fielder Davis Strong the Bravehearts played some “Bad News Nears” defense to allow him to score, and then in the bottom of the ninth the roof nearly fell in as Bristol sandwiched two unearned runs around a Gerrad Rohan sacrifice fly to send the game to extra innings. Worcester’s bats would come alive in the eleventh inning as the Bravehearts would get five runs, with Charlie Ameer‘s two-run single starting the ball rolling. TJ Riccio‘s pinch hit sacrifice fly added another run, and then Gavin Tristan and Dante Ricciardi would each have RBI hits for the five spot. The Blues made it interesting with two runs of their own, but it wouldn’t be enough as Worcester went on to win 9-6. With his game winning RBI Riccio became the first Bravehearts player to register a game winning RBI in a game that he did not have an official at-bat in.

On Thursday Wachusett visited the HIP, and Worcester put themselves behind the eight ball in the fifth inning when Max DiTondo tripled in two runs and then scored on Kurtis White‘s sacrifice fly. The Bravehearts would get back to even in the sixth inning after Mike Coggeshall scored on an infield error and Charlie Ameer laced a double to center field to score two more runs. Worcester would take the lead in the next half inning on TJ Riccio’s RBI single, but in a painful top of the eighth inning where the Dirt Dawgs batted around as the Worcester defense committed four errors resulting in as many unearned runs put the game in the loss column as the Dirt Dawgs went on to win 7-4.

Friday saw Bristol taking their turn coming to Worcester and both starting pitchers really held the opponents in check, but nether would figure in the decision. The Blues Tim Cate went seven innings and scattering four hits while striking out eight. The only run Cate gave up was to TJ Riccio on a double play ball. Greg Stagani was nearly as good for the Bravehearts, allowing two unearned runs and striking out six in five innings. The eighth inning was the big one for Worcester as they entered the frame trailing by a run and left the frame leading after both Gavin Tristan and Derek Gibree both scored. Clayton Dostal, who came in to the game in the sixth inning, earned his fourth win of the season in the 3-2 contest. There were two highlight moments at the game, the first being Baseball Hall of Fame member Lou Brock being in attendance and signing autographs. The second was something that has almost become routine: Ian Strom making a ridiculous catch in the outfield. You can check out Strom’s catch right here.

Saturday it was back to Bristol as the Bravehearts and Blues got together for the third time in four days, but Worcester couldn’t come up with a sweep for the week in dropping a 2-1 contest in 10 innings. Bristol would open up the scoring in the bottom of the first inning when Austin Chauvin singled home Christian Whigham. The Bravehearts would answer with a run of their own in the top of the third when Mike Coggeshall’s sacrifice fly drove in Willie Allen, who had tripled to lead off the inning. Pitching took over the game at that point, as Worcester starter Mike Bruemmel scattered four hits over seven innings while allowing just the first inning unearned run and striking out six while Blues pitchers held the Bravehearts to just five hits over 10 innings while fanning 11. The bottom of the tenth was not good for Worcester as the Blues turned a hit by pitch, a walk, a single, and a wild pitch into the game winning run.

Sunday’s game at Pittsfield started off good for the Bravehearts with Willie Allen homering and Zack Tower doubling in Mike Coggeshall for the early Worcester lead. Unfortunately the wheels fell off soon after and the Bravehearts found themselves down 13-3 in the bottom of the fourth before rain made the field unplayable. The game was suspended and will be resumed at a later date, presumably on Friday, July 24th when Worcester heads back to Pittsfield.

210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Clayton Dostal is the winner, literally, as he had two of the three Bravehearts wins for the week. Dostol went 7 1/3rd innings over two appearances, allowing six hits but just one run while striking out three.
Batter: Zack Tower reclaims the title with a three home game Tuesday, giving him four for the week. The weekly stats don’t include the suspended game, but counting these Tower went 8-21 with three doubles, nine runs, and 10 RBI.

This week’s opponents
Tuesday FCBL All-Star game at North Shore, 7pm
Thursday at North Shore, 7pm
Friday at Pittsfield, 7pm (Watch for potential start time change due to suspended game)
Saturday vs Martha’s Vineyard, 7:05pm (90’s Night)
Sunday vs Pittsfield, 5:05pm (Bobblehead Giveaway)

Around the FCBL
Note: Because of time constraints this week just the scores are listed. Hopefully we’ll be back to our usual recaps next week.
Tuesday
@Pittsfield Suns 7, Seacoast Mavericks 3
Brockton Rox 6, @North Shore Navigators 0
@Martha’s Vineyard Sharks 7, Bristol Blues 2
Torrington Titans 11, @Nashua Silver Knights 4

Wednesday
@Brockton 5, Nashua 4
@Seacoast 7, Martha’s Vineyard 5
@Pittsfield 3, Wachusett 0
North Shore at Torrington, ppd

Thursday
North Shore 14, @Seacoast 6
@Bristol 6, Torrington 0
Brockton 5, @Pittsfield 4, 11 innings
@Nashua 5, Martha’s Vineyard 1

Friday
@Nashua 10, Wachusett 5
Martha’s Vineyard 9, @ Seacoast 7
Pittsfield 5, @North Shore 4
Torrington 5, @Brockton 4, game one, 11 innings
Brockton 4, Torrington 4, game two, suspended until July 26

Saturday
@Brockton 4, North Shore 1
@Martha’s Vineyard 7, Seacoast 5
Nashua 4, @Torrington 3
Wachusett 14, @Pittsfield 0, game 1, 7 innings
Wachusett @ Pittsfield, game 2, ppd-rain

Sunday
@North Shore 3, Seacoast 2, game 1
@North Shore 12, Seacoast 1, game 2
@Brockton 7, Martha’s Vineyard 5
Torrington 11, @Wachusett 3
@Nashua 8, Bristol 6

-30-

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