The Worcester Bravehearts started the season with one goal: “Mission3peat”. Everything looked good for the hometown team as they put up win after win in the regular season to clinch the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s West Division and then went on to claim the number one playoff seed. After sweeping the semi-finals it looked like everything was going according to plan, only the Nashua Silver Knights had a plan of their own and they swept the Bravehearts in the final series to end Worcester’s two year championship run.
On Monday the best of three series between the Bravehearts and the North Shore Navigators began at Fraser Field in Lynn, Massachusetts and Worcester took an early lead when Joe Caico scored on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the second. The Navigators got the run back in the bottom of the fourth when they put three hits together to tie the game. It was the only bump in the road for Bravehearts starter Frankie Moscatiello, who went 7.1 very strong innings, striking out 11 batters and allowing just six total base runners for North Shore.
The pitchers owned the game until the eighth inning when Worcester loaded the bases with one out and Caico tripled to knock in three runs. A Dylan Harris sacrifice fly scored Caico to give the Bravehearts a four run cushion. Tyler Lonestar relieved Moscatiello with one down in the bottom of the eighth and didn’t allow a baserunner as Worcester took game one 5-1.
It was back to Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field for game two and once again the Bravehearts jumped out to a quick lead as they put up four unearned on the Navigators in the bottom of the second. Nick Rybarczyk lead off the scoring with an RBI single, and then a miscue by North Shore on Dante Ricciardi‘s single scored a run. A Rafael Bournigal walk with the bases loaded and an infield out by Ryan Ward both scored runs in the frame.
The Navigators showed they weren’t done in the third by scoring a run, and then a three-run homer by Alex Brickman knotted the score after four.
Greg Kocinski led off the eighth inning for Worcester with a walk, and after a perfect sacrifice bunt by Austin Lonestar Kocinski scored on a Rybarczyk single. Reliever Danny Barlok, who had taken over for starter Greg Stagani in the sixth inning, got into a touch of trouble in the top of the ninth, but Maurizio Devita came in for the save and the 5-4 win to eliminate North Shore.
Worcester had an off day on Wednesday as the Seacoast Mavericks hosted Nashua in game three of their semi-final series, and it was the Silver Knights coming away with the win to advance to the FCBL championships to play Worcester.
Game one was at Holman Stadium in Nashua, New Hampshire, and it was the Silver Knights jumping ahead early with a run in the bottom of the first inning. The Bravehearts got three of their own in the top of the second when Nick Barry tripled to score Kocinski. Barry then scored on a passed ball. Three batters later a Harris sacrifice fly scored Ricciardi for a two run lead. John Friday added to that lead with a solo home run in the next frame.
After Nashua scored two in the bottom of the third Worcester scored two of their own in the next half when Friday’s single drove in Harris and Ward. The Bravehearts added another run in the fifth after Kocinski doubled and two batter later scored on Barry’s sacrifice fly. A three run seventh for the Silver Knights got them within one, and then it looked like Caico’s RBI infield groundout in the top of the ninth would be a nice insurance run.
Turned out all it did was keep Worcester in the game as Ryan Sullivan homered for his second time in as many at bats to send the game to extras. Both teams had chances in the 10th, and in the bottom of the 11th with Nashua runner on the corners Worcester was unable to turn an inning ending double play as the winning run crossed the plate in a 9-8 win for the Silver Knights.
Game two was Friday night at the HIP, and the Bravehearts had lots of trouble getting Nashua batters out. After the 19th pitch of the game Worcester was never closer than two runs behind the Silver Knights. Nashua scored two in the first and second innings for a four run advantage. A Ward double in the third got two of those runs back, but the Silver Knights tallied again in the fourth and sixth innings to get the lead back to four.
A two run homer by Friday again got Worcester to within two, but in the ninth Nashua once again put up two runs. The Bravehearts kept fighting, and in the bottom of the frame loaded the bases and got a run on Harris walk. But that would be all for Worcester as they ended their season with the 8-5 loss.
210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Frankie Moscatiello wins the final one of the season, allowing just four hits and one run in 7.1 innings in earning Monday’s semi-final game one win.
Batter: John Friday gets the nod here, hitting two home runs and driving in five during the four game playoff run. Friday slugged .818 and had an OPS of 1.285 for the four games.