Tuesday began the Worcester Bravehearts’ playoff journey toward the Futures Collegiate Baseball League championship as they visited the third seeded Wachusett Dirt Dawgs. Worcester would get on the board first in the top half of the opening inning when Kevin Doody scored on an infield groundout.
The Bravehearts broke the game open in the fourth when Doody drove in Dante Ricciardi and two batters later Brett Coffel crushed a three run home run for a five run Worcester lead.
Wachusett got one back in the bottom of the fourth, but in the fifth the Bravehearts regained their five run lead on a D.Ricciardi solo home run. In the sixth Coffel launched his second homer of the game to increase the lead.
The Dirt Dawgs scored another run in the eighth, but in the top of the ninth with the bases loaded a Rafael Bournigal and a Greg Kocinski each drove in a run for the 9-2 victory.
Starting pitcher Billy DeVito had another great start for the Bravehearts, striking out nine and allowing just a single run in six innings of work. With FCBL mandatory rests after certain pitch counts Worcester manager JP Pyne then used three relievers the rest of the way to keep them all eligible to pitch Wednesday.
It was game one of the semi-finals Wednesday as the Brockton Rox, the number one seed in the playoffs, visited Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field. Once again the Bravehearts struck early, with Worcester scoring runs in the bottom of the first on an infield out and a Pat DeMarco RBI double for a quick 2-0 lead.
In the second and fourth innings the Bravehearts would score runs on Doody RBI singles to give the home town team a 4-0 lead. Brockton would come roaring back in the sixth with three runs of their own, but that was as close as the Rox would get in the 4-3 final as Worcester took a 1-0 series lead.
Kevin Stone was almost unhittable for the first five innings until stumbling a bit in the sixth, but Tyler Lonestar came into the game and quickly ended Brockton’s hopes for more runs. FCBL “Reliever of the Year” Cody Laweryson earned the save, striking out five of the nine batters he faced.
It was off to Brockton for game two on Thursday and things did not start off well for Worcester as they trailed 2-0 after one inning. The Bravehearts got three in the top of the second behind a Bournigal RBI single and a two-run double by Kocinski. The Rox then added two runs in their half and another in the third as Worcester trailed by two after four innings.
In the fifth a DeMarco single scored a run, but the Rox added two more in their half and it looked like the Bravehearts were on the cusp of getting blown out of Campanelli Stadium. That all changed in the sixth on a Bournigal two-run double as Worcester slowly gained on Brockton.
In the seventh the Bravehearts really turned it on, scoring four times to put the Rox in their rearview mirrors. A D.Ricciardi single started the scoring, and then a Nick Santucci three-run home run was the dagger to the heart of Brockton. In the eighth Coffel launched a three-run shot of his own as Worcester cruised to a 13-8 win to sweep the Rox in the best-of-three series.
In a rematch of last season’s FCBL final the Bravehearts would face the Nashua Silver Knights, with game one taking place in Worcester. In the bottom of the first D.Ricciardi drove in Doody for the 1-0 lead, but unfortunately for the Bravehearts that would be the only run they would score in the entire series.
Despite very good performances by pitchers R.J. Hall and Laweryson in game one and Sebastian Gruszecki, Justin Willis, and Frank Moscatiello in game two the depleted Worcester offense could not dent the Silver Knights pitching staff was Worcester was swept by scores of 4-1 and 2-0.
210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Cody Laweryson is the winner this week, striking out 10 and earning a save in five innings over three games in the playoffs. He allowed just four hits and did not walk a batter during the week.
Batter: Brett Coffel is the easy choice for the playoffs, launching three home runs over the five games. He also had seven RBI and five runs.
This week’s opponents
See you in 2018!
Around the FCBL
Nashua 5, @Pittsfield 2 – Pittsfield eliminated
@Nashua 10, @Bristol 9
Nashua 4, @Bristol 3 – Bristol eliminated
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