WooBall Weekly: Bravehearts enter All-Star break cruising toward the playoffs

The Worcester Bravehearts began the week coming off a couple of tough losses, and unfortunately didn’t have their usual Monday off to help regroup. The two-time Future’s Collegiate Baseball League champions showed they didn’t need an off day and put together a great week, going 6-1 and solidifying their lead in the FCBL’s West Division.

The original schedule had the Bravehearts heading to Bristol for a rare Monday game, and after last week’s rainout with the Blues the FCBL had the two squads play a doubleheader to make up the lost game. Game one was a pitcher’s duel, with Worcester starter Eric Close nearly going the seven inning distance for the win, needing just a touch of help from Peter Bovenzi to seal the deal.

Worcester got on the board in the fifth inning with some help from the Bristol defense when after a Chad Miller single he advanced to second and third on wild pitches. An infield error on a routine grounder then gave the Bravehearts a 1-0 lead. In the seventh Miller once again singled and advanced on a wild pitch, but this time scored on Tom Walraven‘s RBI double. The Blues rallied a bit in the bottom of the inning, but Bovenzi retired the last batter for the save in the 2-1 final.

In the nightcap Worcester survived a wild seventh inning to come out on top 7-5. Zach Whitaker, making his first start of the season for the Bravehearts, was outstanding in his five innings of work scattering four hits and keeping Bristol off the board. It was a bit bumpy for Worcester after his departure, but Tyler Lonestar picked up his first save of the season getting the last two outs of the game with runners on the corners.

Back-to-back doubles by Walraven and Dante Ricciardi got the Bravehearts on the board in the third inning, and in the fourth Evan Hirschbaum and Ryan Ward also had back-to-back two-baggers to drive in two more runs. The Blues got a couple back in the bottom of the sixth, setting up what was a long seventh inning.

After a Ward single and another Bristol infield error Ricciardi singled to drive in Ward. Worcester would benefit from another Blues miscue when an errant pickoff throw to first allowed Walraven to score from third and Ricciardi to round the bases and score from first. A little later a Matt Rothenberg double added a tally for the four run inning. Bristol would get three in their half of the inning before Lonestar ended the rally.

Tuesday night saw the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks come to town, and it was a historic night at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field as Mike Coggeshall extended his hitting streak to 20 games, the new Future’s Collegiate Baseball League standard. And it being July 5th folks in attendance weren’t expecting fireworks, but that’s what they got as both squads combined for 21 runs and 34 hits.

The Bravehearts found themselves in a big hole early after a Sharks five-spot in the second, but were able to scrounge out a run in the home half without getting a hit. Worcester batters went walk, walk, hit by pitch, and walk to score Ricciardi. Worcester then scored three more in the fifth when their bats suddenly came alive.

Rafael Bournigal‘s RBI single was the first hit of the game for Worcester, scoring Chad Miller who had reached on a fielder’s choice. Back-to-back RBI doubles by John Friday and Coggeshall got the hometown boys within one. That didn’t last long as in the next half inning Martha’s Vineyard added four more runs to get back to a five run lead.

Giving up is not what champions do, and the Bravehearts showed that by continuing to chip away at the Sharks lead, scoring two in the sixth, a run in the seventh, and two more in the eighth to get back to even. In the sixth a Miller triple scored a run, and then Miller scored on Bournigal’s single. In the seventh Zack Tower scored on a passed ball, and in the eighth a Friday double and Tower infield groundout scored two.

With nine innings being insufficient to determine a winner it was off to the tenth, where on the first pitch of the inning the Sharks’ JD Andreessen smoked a home run. In the bottom half of the frame Bournigal knocked in Miller for the third time in the contest sending the game deeper into extras. In the twelfth Ricciardi was the hero as his single drove in Walraven from second for the 11-10 final.

It was a muggy night in Nashua Wednesday when Worcester went north to visit the Silver Knights, and in the first inning the Bravehearts were just as hot as the weather when they put up a four run stanza. Coggeshall’s sacrifice fly followed a single by Walraven and Bournigal’s double started the scoring. Rothenberg then walked and then Ricciardi cleared the bases with a triple. A Matthew Diesel double plated Ricciardi, and that was it for Worcester’s scoring on the night.

Starting pitcher Greg Stagani tossed another gem, going five innings and allowing just three runs, all in a bumpy fifth inning. Pat McGowan was just as impressive in his relief outing, allowing just a single hit and striking out 3 in 2.2 innings. Bovenzi then earned his second save of the week in the 4-3 victory.

Thursday had Torrington coming to town, and once again it was Frankie Moscatiello dominating the game with a fine six inning stint where he scattered three Titans hits and struck out seven for his fifth consecutive quality start. Worcester grabbed the lead in the home half of the fourth when Coggeshall doubled in Ricciardi, and then doubled their lead on Joe Caico‘s RBI single in the sixth. Trey Schramm took over for Moscatiello in the seventh and earned his first save of the season in the 2-1 final.

Friday was a historic night at Fraser Field in Lynn, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons if you’re a Bravehearts fan as Speros Varinos and Quinn DiPasquale of the North Shore Navigators combined to no-hit Worcester in a 7-1 loss for the Bravehearts. Worcester’s lone run came in the sixth when Nick Barry was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on an infield out, and then scored on a North Shore error. Mason Feole was the hard luck loser for the Bravehearts, allowing just two runs in five innings while striking out nine.

It was a dreary day Saturday in Worcester, and it looked like the Bravehearts might have some issues getting the game in. As it turned out the only storm to hit Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field was Rafael Bournigal, who hit for the first cycle in franchise history to lead Worcester to a 14-4 win over Nashua.

Fans and players wanted to get the thoughts of being no-hit on Friday out of their minds, so most were willing to wait out the 65 minute rain delay on Saturday. It looked like waiting wasn’t such a great idea as the Bravehearts fell behind early on an unearned run by the Silver Knights in the top of the first, and then went a woeful 0-7 with a runner in scoring position through the first two and two-thirds innings, including wasting Bournigal’s first inning triple.

Tower broke that streak with a bases loaded RBI single in the third, and then on the next pitch Caico singled in another run as Worcester took the lead. A four run fourth inning for the Bravehearts was started with an RBI single for Walraven, and after a walk Friday added two more runs with a single. Coggeshall knocked in the fourth run on a bloop fielder’s choice.

The next inning Worcester added six more runs thanks to some poor defense by Nashua and an odd play that still has this writer scratching his head. First Diesel reached on an error, Nick Rybarczyk walked, and then Ward reached on a bunt single. A throwing error by the pitcher allowed Diesel to score and the runners to advance another base.

With the Silver Knights infield playing in Walraven laced a shot to the second baseman, who inexplicably threw the ball home despite Rybarczyk not making an real attempt to score. Then Bournigal’s single drove in two, and on the next pitch Friday laced a triple for two more runs to cap the sixth inning.

A solo shot by Bournigal in the seventh added to Worcester lead, leaving just a double for his cycle. In the eighth inning after a Walraven single Bournigal smashed a full count pitch for the needed two-bagger. A Hirschbaum infield out scored Walraven for the 14-4 final. Starting pitcher Brady Furdon struck out nine in five innings, while Danny Barlok picked up the four inning save, allowing just a single hit while fanning five.

On Sunday the Bravehearts headed out to the island to take on Martha’s Vineyard, and it was Worcester jumping ahead early on Rothenberg’s three run homer in the top of the first. In the third inning Friday homered to lead off the frame, and a bit later Joe Mercadante‘s sacrifice fly drove in another. It was a bullpen game for the Bravehearts, with six pitchers holding the Sharks in check for the 5-3 win. Bovenzi worked the last two innings, earning his third save of the week and his fourth on the season, which are both new franchise marks.

210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Peter Bovenzi is this week’s winner for becoming the first Bravehearts pitcher to record three saves in a single week. His four saves on the season is a new franchise record.
Batter: Rafael Bournigal gets the nod for hitting for the cycle on Saturday. Bournigal finished the week with 8 hits, 7 RBI, and a .467 OBP.

This week’s opponents
Wednesday FCBL All-Star game at Worcester, 7pm
Thursday at Bristol, 7pm
Friday vs Bristol, 7pm
Saturday at Brockton, 7pm
Sunday at Brockton, 4pm

Around the FCBL
Monday
Nashua 7, @Pittsfield 5 (13 innings)

Tuesday
Seacoast 13, @Torrington 8
@North Shore 4, Pittsfield 0
@Nashua 4, Brockton 3

Wednesday
@Seacoast 7, Brockton 0
@Martha’s Vineyard 9, Wachusett 8
North Shore 10, @Bristol 2
Torrington 10, @Pittsfield 9 (12 innings)

Thursday
@Wachusett 9, North Shore 2
Nashua 16, @Pittsfield 2
Bristol 3, @Martha’s Vineyard 2 (6 innings/fog)
@Brockton 8, Seacoast 5

Friday
@Seacoast 16, Martha’s Vineyard 2
@Bristol 6, Wachusett 5
Pittsfield @ Brockton, ppd/rain
Nashua @ Torrington, ppd/rain

Saturday
Brockton 5, @North Shore 4
@Bristol 13, Wachusett 1
Martha’s Vineyard @ Seacoast, ppd/rain
Pittsfield @ Torrington, ppd/rain

Sunday
Bristol @ Pittsfield, susp/rain
Wachusett @ Nashua, ppd/rain
@Seacoast 3, North Shore 0 (game 1)
North Shore 3, @Seacoast 0 (game 2)
Brockton 10, @Torrington 3

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

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