WooBall Weekly: Bravehearts still top standings as playoff race heats up

Worcester Bravehearts Art

Things began a bit differently than past weeks this season for the Worcester Bravehearts as they played their first Monday game of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League season instead of having an off day. As things turned out the defending league champion Bravehearts would probably have rathered they didn’t play as they dropped a 5-4 contest to the Brockton Rox at Doyle Field in Leominster.

Brockton scored single runs in the second through fifth innings, but Worcester was able to stay within striking reach until they were able to tie it 4-4 after six innings. In the third Danny Torres doubled and scored on a Ben Rice RBI single, and in the fifth bases-loaded walks by Joseph Pesce and Paul Coumoulos cut into the Rox lead. In the sixth frame Rice then tied the score with a solo home run to left field. But Brockton would pick on the deciding run on a home run in the eighth for the win.

Alex Amalfi was Worcester’s best pitcher of the night, striking out four of the six batters he faced over two scoreless innings.

Tuesday was a scheduled off-day for the Bravehearts, not that it would have mattered as Tropical Storm Isaias ripped through western New England and would have postponed any game they did have.

Westfield was the visitor Wednesday as Worcester took on the Starfires at Doyle Field, and it was an odd game that saw the Bravehearts jump out to a big lead only to have Westfield crawl back into the contest. But then the Bravehearts offense exploded again in what became a 16-8 laugher.

Worcester started the scoring in the first inning with a three-run homer by Aidan Wilde. They followed that with four scores in the second on an EJ Exposito sacrifice fly and a three-run homer from Ben Rice, and then three more runs in the third on a Trevor Johnson sac fly and back-to-back RBI singles by Torres and Exposito to make it 10-1.

The Starfires would close that gap to 10-8 after four and a half innings, but a Ben Rice RBI single in the home half of the fifth got things going again for the Bravehearts. In the sixth Jack Gardner had an RBI double, and in the seventh Worcester got three runs on only one hit, with Ben McNeill earning an RBI with a bases-loaded walk and then both Coumoulos and Chad Shade were hit by pitches. Exposito added his second sacrifice fly of the game in the eighth for the 16-8 final.

Will Hesslink earned his second win of the season in relief, with Carson Hauben following with three scoreless innings. Coleman Picard closed the game with a one, two, three ninth frame.

Thursday it was off to the Nutmeg State as the Bravehearts took on the Bees at New Britain Stadium. Ben Rice got Worcester off on the right foot with a solo home run in the top of the first. After New Britain tied it with a run in the second the Bravehearts retook the lead on a Tyler Patane grand slam in the third.

In the fourth Johnson tripled and was knocked in by Exposito, and after a Bees run in the eighth Worcester added two more in the ninth on sacrifice flies by Ben Rice and Patane. Those turned out to be big runs as the Bees closed the gap to 8-5 and had runners on the corners before Jakob Barker struck out the last batter to seal the deal. Sebastian Gruszecki earned the win in relief.

The only positive thing that can be said about the Bravehearts 14-2 Friday night loss to Westfield was it wasn’t the biggest blowout of the night in the FCBL. Worcester’s lone offensive highlight was a two-run blast by Patane in the second inning. Mitchell Pascarella had a nice two inning stint on the mound for the Bravehearts, striking out three and allowing just one hit. After the game, Pascarella and Gardner were released by Worcester.

There was absolutely nothing positive that can be said about Saturday afternoon’s game in Brockton as the Bravehearts were blanked 8-0 in a game broadcast on NESN.

After two poor outings in a row, Worcester was hoping to get back on track Sunday afternoon in a game against the Starfires at Doyle Field. A McNeill RBI single in the bottom of the first got them going in the right direction early, and in the second frame, a Torres RBI infield hit and a two-run single by Ben Rice game them a little breathing room.

Westfield scored two in the top of the fifth, but the Bravehearts answered right back on a Wilde solo home run for Worcester’s 36th of the season, breaking the franchise’s single-season mark. Westfield grabbed two more in the top of the sixth, but once again the Bravehearts continued with the bats as Exposito launched a solo shot.

After Westfield scored a run in the top of the seventh newcomer Zachary DeMattio crushed a three-run homer to put the game out of reach. The Starfires added a run in the top of the ninth for the 9-6 final score. Jack Steele got the win striking out eight, and Hesslink picked up the save retiring the final three batters of the game.

210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Will Hesslink gets the nod this week, earning a win and a save in two outings.
Batter: Ben Rice is this week’s winner, going 10-26 with three home runs and ten RBI. He also scored six runs.

This week’s opponents
Monday at New Britain, 6:30pm
Tuesday at Westfield; doubleheader, 3pm
Wednesday vs Westfield, 6pm
Thursday at Nashua, 6pm
Friday vs North Shore, 6pm
Saturday at Westfield, 6:30pm
Sunday at New Britain, 1:30
With Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field closed for the 2020 season the Bravehearts home games will be played at Doyle Field in Leominster.

For frequent updates on the Worcester Bravehearts follow @210Darryl on twitter, and you can follow 210Sports on Facebook and on Twitter

Around the FCBL
Westfield 2, @New Britain 0

Westfield @ North Shore; ppd, rain

Nashua 5, @North Shore 1

@Westfield 1, Brockton 0; game 1, 7 innings
@Westfield 8, Brockton 7; game 2, 7 innings
Nashua 4, @North Shore 3; HRD (13-3)

@Nashua 18, Brockton 1
@New Britain 6, North Shore 1

@North Shore 7, Westfield 1
@Nashua 3, New Britain 2

North Shore 16, @New Britain 3
Brockton 10, @Nashua 9


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