WooBall Weekly: Bravehearts clinch top seed in FCBL playoffs


The Future Collegiate Baseball League’s season is 10 weeks long, and it took until the last pitch of the final game finished to determine the league’s top playoff seed. With the Worcester Bravehearts victory late Saturday night they tied the Seacoast Mavericks with the best record in the FCBL at 36-18, and by owning the better record head-to-head Worcester wins the tie-breaker and the number one playoff seed.

Tuesday saw Torrington visiting Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field for the first of three contests during the week between the clubs, and the game wasn’t in doubt for long as the Bravehearts batted around in a 36 minute bottom of the first and put up seven runs en route to a 15-2 thrashing of the Titans. Zack Tower scored four runs in the contest tying the franchise single game record while Dylan Harris notched four hits to tie that franchise mark.

It would take almost as much time as the half-inning took to play to list how all the runs scored, mostly because of all the Torrington errors. So I’ll just mention the big hits with Tower having a two-run double and both Dante Ricciardi and Ryan Ward adding RBI singles in the first. Worcester added two more run in the second on a Tower homer to left-center and a Ricciardi sacrifice fly.

Torrington got their two runs in the fourth, but the Bravehearts added three more in the fifth on a Harris solo home run, an Austin Lonestar RBI single, and then Tower scored on a passed ball. To add insult to injury Worcester tacked on three more in the seventh with John Friday and Tower scoring on separate wild pitches and Evan Hirschbaum adding an RBI single.

Kevin Stone evened his record at 2-2 with a steady five inning performance, and the bullpen was back to its usual self allowing just four baserunners over the final four innings.

Wednesday it was Seacoast visiting Worcester in a battle of division champions, and it was the Mavericks jumping out to a two run lead with single scores in the opening two innings. In the bottom of third Rafael Bournigal cut that lead in half with an RBI single, and in the bottom of the fifth Tom Walraven knotted the score with an RBI single of his own.

The sixth inning turned out to be a pivotal one as Tyler Lonestar pitched himself out of a bases loaded jam keeping Seacoast off the board, and then the Bravehearts were able to grab a couple runs to take the lead. The first came on Friday’s RBI single after Harris opened the half-frame with a double. Later in the inning Worcester grabbed their second run off a Seacoast infield error.

The Mavericks rallied a bit in the eighth, but Maurizio Devita slammed the door shut on their comeback bid to earn his first save of the season in Worcester’s 4-3 victory.

It was off to Torrington Thursday for a pair again the Titans, and unfortunately for the Bravehearts it was the first time in franchise history they were swept in a twin-bill. Game one was played in only 81 minutes as neither Worcester nor the Titans could get much offense going. Torrington did manage to push a run across in the bottom of the six on a double and two sacrifices to win 1-0. Nick Barry had two of the Bravehearts four hits in the game.

In game two Worcester’s offense came alive early as the Bravehearts jumped out to an early lead. In the first Harris doubled and then scored on an error, and Worcester grabbed another run in the frame on another error. In the third a Chad Miller had a run scoring single and then scored on a passed ball. But in the fifth the roof caved in on Worcester as Torrington scored four, and in the first extra inning the Titans scored on an error to win 5-4.

Friday saw Martha’s Vineyard in town in the front half of a home-and-home between the clubs. The Bravehearts were looking to put the losses on Thursday behind them, and started out quickly with a four-spot in the bottom of the first. With two out Worcester scored two runs when the Sharks second baseman misplayed a towering fly ball in shallow right, and then Greg Kocinski‘s triple plated two more. The Bravehearts got another run in the fourth when Austin Lonestar and Ricciardi both doubled in the frame.

In the fifth Martha’s Vineyard started to climb back into the contest by grabbing a couples runs, and then a single run in the sixth. But Worcester was having nothing to do with any comebacks this night as the Bravehearts added two in the bottom of the sixth on bases loaded walks, and then exploded for six runs in the eighth. Bournigal knocked in three of those with a homer to deep center that he absolutely crushed. Later in the inning a Kocinski bases loaded double drove in three more for the 13-3 final.

Saturday was the big day, with Worcester needing a win at Martha’s Vineyard and a Seacoast loss to win the top playoff seed. The Mavericks were down a bunch early so there was very little scoreboard watching to do.

The Sharks got on the board first in the bottom of the fourth, but in the top of the fifth the Bravehearts tallied three times. Worcester got their first run on a wild pitch, then Harris knocked in Walraven with a perfect squeeze bunt. Friday then followed with an RBI double.

Worcester would get an unearned run in the seventh, and in the eighth scored three times. Walraven’s sacrifice fly knocked in the first run and a couple batters later Friday knocked in two with a single. Those three runs turned out to be important as despite having nothing to play for but pride Martha’s Vineyard fought hard down to the last out, scoring three runs of their own in the bottom of the ninth for the 7-4 final.

210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Tyler Lonestar wins for this week, getting a win with four innings of relief work. Lonestar allowed just two hits and a walk in that stint while striking out six.
Batter: Dylan Harris is this week’s choice, going 8-21 with 2 doubles and a home run in five games. Harris also scored four runs and stole a base.

This week’s opponents
(Playoff schedule is subject to change)
Monday: FCBL Semifinals, at North Shore, 7pm (game one)
Tuesday: FCBL Semifinals; vs North Shore, 7pm (game two)
Wednesday: FCBL Semifinals; vs North Shore, 7pm (game three, if necessary)
Thursday: TBA
Friday: TBA
Saturday: TBA

Around the FCBL
Brockton 8, Martha’s Vineyard 6

Seacoast 2, @Wachusett 1 (game 1)
Seacoast 11, @Wachusett 8 (game 2)
@Brockton 4, North Shore 1
@Bristol 6, Nashua 0
@Pittsfield 8, Martha’s Vineyard 6

@Pittsfield 9, Brockton 1 (game 1)
@Pittsfield 5, Brockton 2 (game 2)
Nashua 13, @Wachusett 3
@Torrington 5, Bristol 4
Martha’s Vineyard 9, North Shore 1

@North Shore 5, Bristol 4 (completion of suspended game/21 innings)
@North Shore 5, Bristol 4 (scheduled game)
@Pittsfield 6, Torrington 3
Wachusett 13, @Martha’s Vineyard 1
@Nashua 6, Brockton 3

@Nashua 5, Bristol 4 (game one/8 innings)
@Nashua 6, Bristol 3 (game two)
Seacoast 8, @North Shore 7
Torrington 8, @Brockton 7
Wachusett 10, @Pittsfield 8 (10 innings)

@Wachusett 6, Brockton 5
North Shore 14, @Seacoast 3
Pittsfield 11, @Nashua 5
@Torrington 4, Bristol 2

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


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