If there was any doubt it was summer the past week of hot, humid weather and thunderstorm dodging would have erased them. As the dog days have hit the Worcester Bravehearts started the week off gathering some momentum, only to have issues later in the week with a few disappointing performances. But it was just one swing of the bat late Sunday that might have set things back to right.
Monday saw Worcester visiting North Shore in the only FCBL game of the night, and after a tough couple games the Bravehearts turned to starting pitcher Zack Tower to help get them on track. Yes, you read that correctly. Zack Tower. The power hitting first baseman took to the mound and gave head coach J.P. Pyne and his teammates a huge shot in the arm with a couple great innings, striking out two of the eight Navigators batters he faced.
While Tower didn’t bat for himself in the contest Worcester finally broke out of their hitting funk with a ten hit, four run attack against North Shore in a 4-3 win. Rafael Bournigal‘s triple plated a run in the third inning, and the Bravehearts manufactured what ended up being an unearned run in the fifth. In the sixth inning Ryan Ward doubled, advanced to third on a deep fly to center, and scored on Nick Rybarczyk‘s single. Worcester then added another unearned run in the seventh.
Brady Furdon relieved Tower to start the third inning, and picked up his fifth victory of the season, which set a new single season franchise record. Peter Bovenzi picked up the save with a two inning effort, and in the process set the career saves mark for the Bravehearts.
Tuesday began the first of four consecutive meetings between Worcester and Wachusett, and it was the Dirt Dawgs getting ahead early with single runs in the first, second, fourth, and seventh innings. It took the Bravehearts just a half inning to get themselves back to even as they sent nine batters to the plate in their half of the seventh.
Dante Ricciardi got Worcester on the board with an RBI single, and two batters later Ward singled in another run. After a John Friday single Mike Coggeshall knocked in Ricciardi and Ward with a single of his own. In the bottom of the ninth the Bravehearts failed to score with the bases loaded and no outs, so to extras the two clubs went.
Wachusett finally broke the tie in the top of the 11th with a run, and it looked bad for the hometown team when they were down to their last out with no one on base. Joe Caico kept Worcester’s hopes alive with a single. Tower was then sent to the plate as a pinch hitter, and hit a ball about as far as you can to center field and have it not be a home run, scoring Caico from first. Matthew Diesel then lofted a single to score Tower from second for the 6-5 extra innings walk off win.
It was off to Leominster Wednesday as it was the Dirt Dawgs turn to play at home, and virtually nothing went right for the Bravehearts in a 10-2 loss. Ward went 3-4 with an RBI in the contest, and Friday added a double and an RBI. The less said about the game the better, although the 20 minute skunk delay did result in some nice jokes on Twitter.
The two clubs went back to Worcester for game three of their four game set, and Wachusett took the early lead with a two spot in the top of second inning of Bravehearts starter Zach Whitaker. But that would be the only real damage the Dirt Dawgs would do in a 6-3 victory for Worcester. The Bravehearts took the lead for good in the bottom of the second when Coggeshall scored on an infield out, and then Tower scored on Nick Barry sacrifice fly. Worcester would add a third run in the frame on a passed ball.
Caico hit the first pitch of the bottom of the fourth over the high right field wall to increase the Bravehearts lead, and in the sixth inning Chad Miller had an RBI single for another run. In that same sixth inning Worcester added another run on a very rare 3-2-3 putout.
Whitaker’s win was his fourth on the season, and Danny Barlok tacked on his third save of the year at the end. Recently signed Sam Steeves looked much more comfortable in his second outing than he did in his first, and had two decent innings in mid-relief.
And finally it was back to Leominster for the last of the four game set on Friday night, and once again the Bravehearts just couldn’t get anything going in a 7-1 loss to Wachusett. The Bravehearts took an early lead on a Diesel RBI double in the second inning, but that was pretty much it for Worcester as it was their only hit in the game.
Saturday it was back to Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field for the Bravehearts as they took on the Brockton Rox, and it was another clunker for the hometown team after allowing six runs in the second inning en route to losing 7-1. Miller’s solo blast in the bottom of the ninth was the only run for Worcester. During his stint starting pitcher Greg Stagani set the franchise mark for innings pitched in a career.
The rollercoaster week ended Sunday at the HIP as the Bravehearts took on Pittsfield. Mason Feole put together another great outing, scattering five hits over six innings while striking out five and leaving the game up three runs and with Worcester’s ace bullpenners coming up right behind him. But nothing week has been easy for the Bravehearts as the Suns strung together a few hits and tied the contest heading to the bottom of the ninth.
Diesel’s single started of the home half of the ninth for the Bravehearts, and he moved to second on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Ricciardi. Rybarczyk said in a post game interview he was waiting on a fastball, and he most certainly was as the second one he saw he crushed over the left centerfield wall for a two-run walk-off homerun and the 5-3 Worcester victory.
210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Tyler Lonestar is the choice the week, winning two game over the last 7 days. He struck out five batters in 4.2 innings over three stints
Batter: Nick Rybarczyk is the winner for his walk-off homer on Sunday, just the second in Bravehearts franchise history. Rybarczyk finished the week 4-14 with a double, homer, and 3RBI in six games.
This week’s opponents
Tuesday at Pittsfield, 7pm
Wednesday vs Torrington, 7pm (Jersey Auction featuring Why Me)
Thursday at Nashua, 7pm
Friday vs Pittsfield, 7pm (Military Appreciation & Fireworks)
Saturday vs Wachusett, 7pm (Hockey Night with the Worcester Railers)
Sunday at Seacoast, 4pm
Around the FCBL
@Bristol 3, Brockton 2
@Seacoast 4, Nashua 1
Pittsfield 5, @North Shore 3 (13 innings)
Torrington 2, @Martha’s Vineyard 1
@Seacoast 9, Bristol 8
@Torrington 6, Martha’s Vineyard 5
@Nashua 8, Pittsfield 4
@seacoast 7, Torrington 4
@Bristol 8, Pittsfield 5
@Nashua 11, Martha’s Vineyard 1
Brockton 9, North Shore 7
@Martha’s Vineyard 7, North Shore 4
Seacoast 7, @Torrington 3 (6 innings/rain)
@Pittsfield 10, Bristol 9 (12 innings/game 1)
Bristol 15, @Pittsfield 3 (game 2)
Nashua 4, @Brockton 0 (6 innings/rain)
@Wachusett 14, Pittsfield 7
North Shore 16, @Torrington 0
Nashua 3, @Martha’s Vineyard 0 (8 innings)
@Bristol 7, Seacoast 4
Nashua 12, @Seacoast 8
@Brockton 5, Martha’s Vineyard 0
Torrington 10, @Wachusett 6
North Shore 11, @Bristol 3
For frequent updates on the Worcester Bravehearts follow @210Darryl on twitter.