Bravehearts still in FCBL playoff hunt with one week to go

With one week to go in the FCBL season the Worcester Bravehearts still find themselves outside the top eight teams that make the playoffs, but now exactly what needs to happen for them to qualify for the post season is clear. With six scheduled games remaining the Bravehearts need to win two more games this week than either the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs or Pittsfield Suns do, or failing that, three more games than the Torrington Titians. While still an uphill climb at least it’s a reasonable enough chance for Worcester to get an opportunity to defend their 2014 playoff championship.

It was a rare Monday contest for the Bravehearts as the Brockton Rox came to town, and behind Zack Tower‘s 14th inning home run Worcester came out on top 8-5. After taking a two run lead on a Derek Gibree single in the bottom of the second the Bravehearts continued their season long trend of surrendering runs in the next half inning after scoring, and their lead disappeared. Worcester would get the lead back in the bottom of the third, and would grab another run in the bottom of the fifth. The Rox would then score single runs in the sixth and seventh to set up extra innings. In the top of the 14th inning Jonathan Salcedo scored to give Brockton the lead, but in the bottom of the inning Ian Strom doubled and went to third on TJ Riccio‘s infield single. After a passed ball scored Strom the Rox inexplicably intentionally walked Alex Sanchez to get to Tower. That didn’t work out so well as Tower crunched the first pitch he saw to left-center for the walk off win.

Tuesday it was the Torrington Titans invading the HIP for a matinee, and with Worcester coming off a long extra inning game after playing a double header on Sunday the last thing they needed was another extra inning contest, but unfortunately for the Bravehearts that’s exactly what they got in a 7-5 loss in 10 innings. The Bravehearts would have to stage a big comeback to even get into extra frames as they trailed by five runs after six and a half innings. In the bottom of the seventh Worcester would claw back into the game when Evan Hirschbaum tripled and Derek Gibree singled him home. Gibree would eventually score after two Torrington wild pitches. It would be Gibree again in the next half inning when his bases loaded double cleared the bases and knotted the game at five. Unfortunately for Worcester it had exhausted its regular pitching staff and had to turn to Ian Strom, who hadn’t taken the mound for the Bravehearts in almost a full calendar year. Strom pitched well but the defense behind him failed to provide any help as the Titans got two unearned runs in the top of the tenth for the 7-5 final.

Wednesday Worcester went north to take on the Nashua Silver Knights and found themselves down by four before they had their first hit of the game. The Bravehearts would finally get things going in the seventh inning when Mike Coggeshall tripled in Willie Allen and Zack Tower to cut the deficit to two. Charlie Ameer then singled in home Coggeshall, but that was as close as Worcester would get in losing 4-3. Clayton Dostal turned in a bullpen saving performance with five innings of one hit relief.

Thursday the Bravehearts went down to Bristol for the first half of a home and home against the Blues, and it turned into the Dylan Collett Show as the Worcester starter went eight innings allowing just two hits and a run while striking out seven in a 2-1 win. The Bravehearts would get both of their runs in the road half of the third when Ian Strom lofted a sacrifice fly to right field scoring Willie Allen, and then Alex Sanchez singled in Dante Ricciardi. Bristol’s only run came in the sixth inning on a single, and error, and a ground out, and that was the only trouble Collett had all game. Logan Fullmer came in for the ninth and recorded a one, two, three inning for the save.

The Blues came up to Worcester Friday for the back half of the clubs’ home and home, and it was the Bravehearts getting off on the right foot when they scored a run without the benefit of a hit. Ian Strom was hit by a pitch, stole second, and then took third on TJ Riccio’s groundout. Alex Sanchez then hit a slow roller to third base and Strom beat the throw home for the 1-0 lead. In the top of the fourth Bristol manufactured a couple runs to take the lead, but in the bottom of the frame it was the Bravehearts patience at the plate that put them in the lead for good. Worcester batters walked five times in that half inning, three times forcing in runs as the bases were loaded. Joe Caico added an RBI single, Strom had a sacrifice fly, and a run scored on a wild pitch gave the hometown team six in the frame. The Blues would make the 7-4 final score look respectable with a Liam Scafariello homer in the eighth and another run in the ninth. Jacob Stevens picked up his second win of the season and had seven strikeouts in five innings, and Adam De La Cruz picked up where Stevens left off striking out five of his own in three innings.

On Saturday the North Shore Navigators were the opponent and it was the fourth inning that did the Bravehearts in as North Shore sent 11 batters to the plate, with six scoring. All in all, it was a night the Worcester pitching staff would rather just forget as four of the five hurlers for Worcester were completely ineffective, allowing 14 hits, eight earned runs (of 11 total) and walking 10 batters in the 11-4 loss. Only mop-up man Kyle Cutler has success, retiring both batters he faced. Charlie Ameer went 3-4 for the Bravehearts, and Zack Tower added to his team leading RBI total with a ninth inning double.

Sunday saw Wachusett visit the HIP, and with the Bravehearts chasing the Dirt Dawgs in the standings it was pretty much a “must win” game for Worcester. Things didn’t look good after Wachusett got to Bravehearts starter Mike Bruemmel for three runs in the third inning, but that was all the Dirt Dawgs would get as Bruemmel, Clayton Dostal, and Logan Fullmer slammed the door on Wachusett the rest of the way in a 5-3 win for Worcester. The Bravehearts started their comeback in the bottom of the third when Derek Gibree scored on a passed ball and TJ Riccio singled in Dante Ricciardi. A Willie Allen sacrifice fly in the fourth tied the score, and Worcester took the lead in the fifth on a Zack Tower RBI single. The Bravehearts would close out the scoring with an RBI single by Gibree in the fifth.

210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: We have our first tie…Logan Fullmer gets “half” for allowing just a single hit in 5 1/3rd innings over three appearances. He struck out seven of the 18 batters he faced and recorded two saves in the week. Dylan Collett gets the other half for his eight inning gem where he allowed just two hits and a run while striking out seven Thursday at Bristol.
Batter: Zack Tower wins it for the fourth time this season, going 7-23 with three doubles and a homer. Tower scored a team leading five runs during the past week, and was co-leader on the squad with seven RBI.

This week’s opponents
Tuesday at Brockton, 6:35pm
Wednesday vs Nashua, 7:05pm (Bernie Carbo Bobblehead)
Thursday at Torrington, 7pm
Friday vs Torrington, 7:05pm (Glow-in-the-Dark Caps & Fireworks)
Saturday at Nashua, 7:05pm
Sunday at Bristol, 7:30pm

Around the FCBL
Due to time constraints there will be no recaps and only the final scores will be listed
Tuesday
@Seacoast 8, North Shore 7 (13 innings)
Nashua 9, @Brockton 8
@Martha’s Vineyard 10, Pittsfield 5
@Bristol 2, Wachusett 0

Wednesday
Wachusett 6, @North Shore 1
Brockton 6, @Martha’s Vineyard 5
Seacoast 12, @Pittsfield 9
Torrington 3, @Bristol 2 (10 innings)

Thursday
@North Shore 2, Brockton 1
Martha’s Vineyard 8, @Pittsfield 2
@Nashua 8, Seacoast 6
Wachusett @ Torrington, canceled (field conditions)

Friday
@Wachusett 8, Seacoast 7
Martha’s Vineyard 8, @Nashua 1
@North Shore 1, Torrington 0
@Brockton 8, Pittsfield 3

Saturday
Wachusett 5, @Seacoast 4, game one
Wachusett 6, @Seacoast 3, game two
@Brockton 7, Martha’s Vineyard 6
@Bristol 3, Nashua 1
@Pittsfield 4, Torrington 3

Sunday
Martha’s Vineyard 11, @North Shore 2
Bristol 12, @Brockton 4
Torrington 5, @Pittsfield 3
Nashua 8, @Seacoast 1, game one (was at Nashua but Seacoast was home team)
Seacoast 6, @Nashua 4, game two

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