WooBall Weekly: Doubleheader sweep caps big week for Bravehearts

You wouldn’t think that a team losing back-to-back games for the first time in 21 games dating back to last season would qualify them as having a “big week”, but the Worcester Bravehearts certainly fit that description as they bookended that two game losing streak with a pair of two game winning streaks to finish the week 4-2 as they leaped into first place in the Future’s Collegiate Baseball League’s West Division.

After an off day on Monday Worcester began week two of the FCBL season Tuesday in Pittsfield taking on the Suns in what was the first of three scheduled matinees for the Bravehearts. Worcester opened the scoring in the top of the second when Nick Barry doubled in Joe Mercadante for the early lead. The Suns manufactured a run in the bottom of the fifth to tie it, but in the top of the sixth Barry would once again knock in Mercadante to retake the lead.

A home run for Pittsfield in the home half of the sixth tied the game once again, but in the top of the seventh Worcester would take the lead for good with an RBI single from Mike Coggeshall driving in Rafael Bournigal, and three batters later Evan Hirschbaum knocked in Coggeshall for what was the eventual 4-2 final.

Despite there being video evidence of it happening, according to the official box score Joe Caico‘s two run single in the top of the ninth does not count as a driving rainstorm forced the game to be ended early, and only stats after eight innings count.

Both Brady Furdon and Zach Whitaker had solid games on the hill for Worcester, with Furdon striking out seven batters in five innings while scattering five hits and one earned run. Whitaker, who got the win in relief, retired nine of the ten batters he faced. Neither pitcher issued a walk, the tenth time that has happened in franchise history.

On Wednesday the Bristol Blues headed to Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field to take on the Bravehearts in a rematch of last season’s championship series. Worcester broke open the scoreless game in the fifth inning when Chad Miller‘s bases loaded single drove in two runs. Bournigal followed with another single to drive in a third run, and the Bravehearts would grab a fourth run when Miller scored on a double play ball.

Dante Ricciardi would make it a six run lead with a bases loaded single of his own in the sixth. Ricciardi ended up with three singles on the day, which ties Worcester’s nine-inning single game mark. Bristol would get three in the top of the ninth, but it was too little, too late as the Bravehearts came out on top 6-3.

Once again pitching played a big role in the win, with starter Thomas Horstkotte allowing just four baserunners over his five inning stint while striking out five. Baylor LaPointe was the first out of the bullpen, and struck out a franchise record six batters in a row en route to tying the Bravehearts mark for strikeouts by a relief pitcher at seven.

Wednesday night Worcester played an exhibition game against the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod Baseball League, and suffered a 12-1 loss in 8 innings. As none of the stats from the game count in the FCBL and the score was a little lopsided, we’ll just mentioned they played and move on from there.

Thursday had Pittsfield coming to town in the last of the Bravehearts scheduled matinees of the season, and despite the early start both teams’ bats were wide awake as Worcester and the Suns combined for 22 runs and 33 hits. After falling behind after the top of the first the Bravehearts came roaring back in the second when Matthew Diesel tripled in Zack Tower. John Friday would single in Diesel, and later Friday would score on Tom Walraven‘s base hit. Pittsfield would tie it in the top of the third, but Tower gave Worcester the lead back with a two-run blast in the bottom of the frame.

The Bravehearts would find themselves down three after the road half of the eighth, but managed to get the deficit down to one when Walraven tripled in Friday and Nick Rybarczyk. Bournigal got Worcester even in the ninth with his first homer of the season and on to extra innings the two squads went, but the Pittsfield bats were too much as the Bravehearts went down in defeat 13-9 in ten innings.

Friday Worcester visited Bristol to take on the Blues in the first of three straight in the Nutmeg State, and the Bravehearts once again found themselves playing catch-up ball. Down three after four complete Worcester finally came to life with a four-spot in the fifth inning. Ryan Ward began the rally with a one out single and the stole second base. Walraven’s single drove in Ward and then followed Ward’s example by stealing second base and then scoring on a Bournigal base hit. Coggeshall’s first homer of the season would drive in Bournigal to cap the scoring in the frame.

Worcester would keep the lead entering the home half of the seventh inning where unfortunately for the Bravehearts the wheels came off as the Blues put up four to take the lead for good. Worcester did manufacture a couple runs of unearned run in the top of the ninth, but it was not enough as the Bravehearts lost 7-6. Stretching back to last season it was the first time in 21 games Worcester has lost back-to-back games, capping a 16-5 record over that span.

Afternoon rains forced the postponement of Saturday’s contest at Torrington, but since the two squads were already scheduled to play again there Sunday it was easy to just play two. One has to wonder why their previous rainout wasn’t already scheduled for this weekend, but that’s a story for a later date.

In game one Sunday Rybarczyk got the Bravehearts on the board in the top of the second when his slow roller to second drove in Diesel. In the top of the third Worcester would grab two more run on a Coggeshall RBI single and a Tower sacrifice fly. The Titans got two back in the home half of the fourth, but the Bravehearts would cap the scoring in the fifth on a Friday single for the 4-2 final.

Mike Bruemmel pitched well in the opening four innings to earn the win, and was relieved by LaPointe in the fifth. LaPointe’s six strikeouts improved his team leading total to 13, and despite the box score not showing a save at posting time, he deserves one.

The second game was an 11-2 blowout for Worcester, but the story of the game was starting pitcher Brady Furdon mowing down the first 16 batters he saw to set the Bravehearts mark for retired batters to start a game. Furdon pitched six solid innings, striking out six on his way to his second win of the season.

It wouldn’t take long for Worcester to get on the board in the nightcap, with Matt Rothenberg doubling in Tyler Lonestar in the top of the first. In the second the Bravehearts added two more when Mercadante scored on an error and then Walraven singling in Ward. A Ricciardi triple with two on and a Walraven sacrifice fly gave Worcester three more in the fourth, and a Barry home run in the fifth contributed to a five run inning. Torrington would get a run in each of the sixth and seventh innings, but that would be far from enough.

210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Brady Furdon is the week two choice, winning both of his starts and adding 12 strikeouts.
Batter: Tom Walraven wins the week two award going 8-21 with a triple and 6 RBI in six games.

This week’s opponents
Tuesday vs Bristol, 7pm
Wednesday at Pittsfield, 7pm
Thursday vs Brockton, 6:30pm (Fireworks)
Friday vs Bristol, 7pm (Replica Ring Giveaway & Fireworks)
Saturday at Martha’s Vineyard, 7pm
Sunday vs Seacoast, 7pm (Jersey Auction with March of Dimes)

Around the FCBL
Monday
@Martha’s Vineyard 7, Seacoast 5

Tuesday
@Nashua 6, Wachusett 3
@Brockton 11, North Shore 2 (8 innings, rain)
@Seacoast 11, Martha’s Vineyard 0
@Torrington 3, Bristol 1

Wednesday
@Wachusett 9, Nashua 8
Pittsfield 9, #Seacoast 3
@Martha’s Vineyard 8, North Shore 4
Brockton 13, @Torrington 6

Thursday
@Wachusett 8, North Shore 3
Seacoast 11, @Martha’s Vineyard 3
Nashua 5, @Bristol
@Brockton 6, Torrington 2

Friday
Wachusett 6, @Seacoast 2
Nashua 11, @North Shore 4
@Pittsfield 6, Torrington 0
@Brockton 10, Martha’s Vineyard 3

Saturday
Nashua 9, @North Shore 3
Wachusett 5, @Brockton 4
@Bristol 5, Pittsfield 1
@Seacoast 7, Martha’s Vineyard 5

Sunday
@Seacoast 8, Wachusett 7
@Brockton 3, Bristol 2 (10 innings)
North Shore 8, @Pittsfield 4
Martha’s Vineyard 4, @Nashua 1

For frequent updates on the Worcester Bravehearts follow @210Darryl on twitter.

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