Entering the last week of the FCBL regular season the Worcester Bravehearts found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff contenders. What they needed to do looked easy on paper, but in practice to have a team that was under .500 win the number of games it needed to qualify for the playoffs was something that generally doesn’t happen. In fact, the Bravehearts odds were so long that when on July 30th a mathematician friend figured out the number it was just under 9%. Well, not only did the Bravehearts go 5-1 to claim a playoff berth, they leapt over two other teams to finish as the six seed.
On Tuesday the Bravehearts went to Brockton and after some significant thunderstorms passed through Massachusetts their game with the Rox was delayed a half hour, but as the storms caused temperatures to drop it didn’t cool off Worcester’s bats as they slugged their way to a 5-1 win over Brockton. The Bravehearts got on the board in the top of the first on an infield error by the Rox that allowed Alex Sanchez to score an unearned run. Brockton would tie the game in the bottom of the third on a Billy Endris home run, but Worcester would regain the lead in the top of the fifth when Derek Gibree scored on Sanchez’s infield grounder and then Gavin Tristan scored on a Brockton error. Sanchez would double home Tristan in the top of the seventh for some insurance, and another Sanchez double in the ninth plated Ian Strom for the final run of the game.
While nothing could cool off the Bravehearts’ bats on Tuesday that wasn’t the case Wednesday against Nashua as three Silver Knights’ pitchers held Worcester to just four hits in a 6-0 loss for the Bravehearts. Joe Caico got two of those hits for Worcester. The Bravehearts did have a couple of chances to get on the board, but each time Nashua’s pitching would get them out of the jam. Newcomer Frankie Moscatiello stuck out two of the four batters he faced in a mop-up role in the ninth inning.
Thursday saw Worcester visiting Torrington in the front half of a home and home, and it was all Worcester as Alex Sanchez hit a grand slam in the top of the fourth and added a sixth inning two run homer en route to an 11-1 win for the Bravehearts. Worcester would get on the board in the top of the first when Ian Strom scored on a wild pitch and then Zack Tower launched a solo shot to cap the scoring in the inning. The Bravehearts would continue to pile up the runs by notching a seven spot in the fourth inning, with Gavin Tristan knocking in two with a single and Strom doubling in another run before Sanchez’s grand slam. Dylan Collett earned his third win of the season scattering five Titans hits over six innings.
It was the Titans’ turn to visit Worcester on Friday and the Bravehearts’ offensive onslaught continued as Worcester came away with a 10-3 victory. The Bravehearts opened up the scoring with a bases loaded triple by Ian Strom in the bottom of the second inning, and that three run lead would last all the way to the top of the seventh when Torrington put up three runs of their own. Zach Wood knocked in a run with a single to left, and after a Worcester pitching change Cody Doyle singled to right to drive in two more. The Bravehearts would regain the lead in the bottom half of the inning with another three run inning, with TJ Riccio, Alex Sanchez, and Zack Tower all getting an RBI in the frame. Worcester would tack on four more runs in the bottom of the eighth, capped by Sanchez’s two-run single. Strom tied the franchise record for most hits in a single game with four. It was the third time Strom tied the mark, once again joining Nate Pajka and Dylan Harris in the four hits club. The Bravehearts also set a franchise single game attendance record, with 4,240 at the HIP to see the game.
Saturday saw Worcester traveling to Nashua to take on the Silver Knights with the Bravehearts having their own playoff destiny at hand: win and they were in. Mike Bruemmel took the hill for Worcester, and pitched his second great outing in a row striking out five in six innings while allowing just a single run as the Bravehearts clinched a FCBL playoff berth with a 7-3 win over Nashua. Alex Sanchez got Worcester on the board in the top of third with a two-run homer, and the Bravehearts doubled their lead with an RBI single by Ian Strom and an infield error by the Silver Knights scoring another run. Bruemmel would allow his only run in the bottom of the frame, but Worcester would get that run back on a Willie Allen sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth. The teams would exchange runs over the next couple innings, with Bobby Dragon‘s ninth inning sacrifice fly capping the scoring.
On Sunday the Bravehearts went down to Bristol, and because of other events at Muzzy Field the game against the Blues didn’t start until after 8pm. It made no difference to Worcester, as they continued to ride the high of clinching a playoff spot and took it to Bristol in an 8-1 win. The Bravehearts got on the board in the second with a runs scored on a double play ball and on a wild pitch. Worcester would score another run in the fourth on a RBI single by Adam De La Cruz, and another in the fifth on an Alex Sanchez RBI single. In the sixth Derek Gibree doubled in a run, and by the time Joe Caico launched a three run homer in the seventh the game was all but over.
210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: For the second week in a row we have a tie, with Mike Bruemmel and Dylan Collett winning with near identical stats. Both pitched six innings and allowed five hits and no earned runs. Bruemmel had five strikeouts, Collett had three. Both earned wins.
Batter: Alex Sanchez is the easy pick, going 7-23 with two doubles, three home runs, and 15 RBI.
This week’s opponents
Tuesday at Brockton, 7:05pm
Potential additional games TBD
Around the FCBL
Once again, due to time constraints there will be no recaps and only the final scores will be listed
@Torrington 5, Pittsfield 2
@North Shore 6, Nashua 2
@Martha’s Vineyard 6, Wachusett 5
@Bristol 9, Seacoast 5
@Wachusett 7, Brockton 5
Pittsfield 8, @Seacoast 3
@Martha’s Vineyard 8, North Shore 2
@Bristol 3, Torrington 1
Bristol 7, @Pittsfield 1, game one
Bristol 2, @Pittsfield 1, game two
@North Shore 4, Wachusett 3
Martha’s Vineyard 2, @Nashua 1
@Brockton 8, Seacoast 4
@Nashua 4, Wachusett 3
@North Shore 7, Seacoast 0
Martha’s Vineyard 4, @Brockton 3
Bristol 3, @Pittsfield 0
@North Shore 4, Martha’s Vineyard 3, 11 innings
Pittsfield 5, @Wachusett 3
Brockton 9, @Seacoast 2
@Torrington 6, Bristol 4
@Nashua 13, Seacoast 6
@Brockton 4, Wachusett 3, 11 innings
Pittsfield 9, Torrington 5, 10 innings
@Martha’s Vineyard 13, North Shore 1