Friday night the Worcester Bravehearts opened their 2017 season in front of the third largest crown in franchise history, and the 4,035 that showed up at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field saw the hometown team start the season off on the right foot with a 4-3 victory over the Bristol Blues.
The Bravehearts got on the board early with a two run bottom of the first as both Trevor Jensen and Joe Caico launched RBI singles. Bristol tied the game in the top of the third, but a Jensen RBI double in the bottom of the frame put Worcester back on top.
The Blues tied it in the top of the sixth, and once again Worcester retook the lead in the bottom of the frame when Bryan Hart launched a home run to left for the eventual game winning run. Hart became just the second player in franchise history to homer in his debut with the team.
Billy Devito was the starting pitcher for the Bravehearts, and threw a solid five innings striking out seven while allowing just two hits and two walks. Josh Walker picked up the win in relief, and Cody Laweryson earned a two inning save. Both struck out four batters each.
It was the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs visiting the HIP on Saturday, and things looked bleak for the hometown team early when through five and a half innings the Bravehearts had more errors, four, than hits, zero. Luckily they were only down three on the scoreboard, and in the bottom of the sixth rallied to cut the deficit to one.
The bottom of the sixth started with a Mariano Ricciardi walk, followed by back to back singles by Tommy Walraven and Jensen that scored M.Ricciardi. Walraven later scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-2 Wachusett.
Worcester tied the game in the bottom of the eighth when Walraven lead off the inning with a single to right, and following some defensive miscues by the Dirt Dawgs and an intentional walk to Caico the Bravehearts had the bases loaded. Chad Miller‘s walk then forced in the tying run.
It looked like they’d be headed to extra innings after Wachusett retired the first two Worcester batters quickly in the bottom of the ninth, but Walraven’s third hit of the game gave the Bravehearts a chance. Then in the unlikeliest of outcomes Walraven was able to score from first on Jensen single to right for the 4-3 Worcester win.
Maurizio Devita earned the win in his one inning of relief. Stater Anthony Auletta had a fine effort, allowing just a single earned run and one hit while striking out five in five innings.
On Sunday it was the Pittsfield Suns visiting Worcester, and with rain in the forecast the Bravehearts pushed the start time up about 20 minutes. It looked like a great move early on as Worcester starter Jakob Barker mowed down the Suns in quick order for six innings. With a second inning home run by Caico and a fourth inning RBI single by Walraven it appeared the Bravehearts were cruising toward a win.
But in the seventh, it got ugly.
Despite cutting two runs off at the plate and being one pitch away from Worcester escaping the frame unharmed, the Suns scored seven runs with two outs to take a commanding lead. They’d get one more in the eighth for the 8-2 final and the first Bravehearts loss off the season.
One quick note if I may…over the last couple seasons Steve “Coach” Carrington has been running the “Bravehearts Update” twitter account, and his assistance in putting together much of this information in the past was greatly appreciated. Steve has moved on due to scheduling conflicts, and his presence will be missed.
210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Josh Walker gets the nod by striking out four of the seven batters he faced Friday in earning the opening day win.
Batter: Trevor Jensen is this week’s winner, going 6-11 with a double and 2RBI over the weekend. He’s the only Worcester player with a hit in all three games played.
This week’s opponents
Monday at Martha’s Vineyard, 6:05pm
at Brockton, 10:05am (POSTPONED TO Jun 22, 05:30 PM)
Wednesday vs Seacoast, 10:30am (Baseball in Education Day)
Thursday vs North Shore, 10:30am (Baseball in Education Day)
Friday at Seacoast, 6:35pm
Saturday OFF DAY
Sunday vs Bristol, 4:05pm (Bravehearts Baseball Card Giveaway)
Around the FCBL
Seacoast 2, @North Shore 1
Pittsfield 8, @Wachusett 5
Nashua 2, @Bristol 0
@Martha’s Vineyard 6, Brockton 4
@Martha’s Vineyard 12, Seacoast 1
Pittsfield 9, @Nashua 5
@Brockton 4, Wachusett 2
Martha’s Vineyard 7, @North Shore 3
Seacoast 11, @Brockton 3
@Pittsfield 4, Bristol 1
Seacoast 3, @North Shore 1
@Nashua 11, Martha’s Vineyard 1
Wachusett @ Bristol, ppd, rain
For frequent updates on the Worcester Bravehearts follow @210Darryl on twitter.