Entering the week the Worcester Bravehearts needed just one victory to clinch the top seed in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s playoffs, and because of a rainout on the day before the Bravehearts got two chances on Monday as they took on the Bees in a doubleheader at New Britain Stadium. Game one started off well for the defending FCBL champions when Matt Shaw drilled the third pitch of the game for a home run. Shaw also scored in the third inning when he doubled and was driven in by a triple by Ben Rice.
But it was all downhill from there as the Bees scored one in the fourth and five in the fifth to take over the game. A second homer in the game by Shaw in the seventh inning made it the 6-3 final. With a home run in the contest, Shaw set a new Bravehearts franchise record for consecutive games with a homer at four. Angelo Baez started the game for Worcester and while on a pitch count struck out six batters in three innings.
Game two was ugly, with the Bravehearts managing just three hits in a 7-0 loss to New Britain. John West provided the only positive for the team, striking out four of the five batters he faced.
Tuesday had the Brockton Rox visiting Doyle Field in Leominster, and once again Shaw struck early hitting the first pitch of the home half of the opening inning out for a home run. Four batters later Tyler Patane hit a three-run jack for a 4-0 lead after one. The Rox closed the gap to 4-3 after four and a half, but in the home half of the fifth Worcester got back on track when Shaw homered again. In the eighth the Bravehearts sealed the deal and the top seed with an Aidan Wilde two-run homer to make it the 7-3 final.
Late in the contest Justin Murray stuck out the last eight batters he faced, tying the franchise’s record. Jakob Barker then struck out the side in the ninth making it 11 in a row, which set a new team mark.
With the FCBL seedings finalized and Doyle Field soaked during a late afternoon thunderstorm Worcester’s Wednesday game against New Britain was canceled.
Because of fans not being allowed at the games in Massachusetts due to COVID restrictions, the FCBL announced that all three games for the league’s championship would be held in Nashua, New Hampshire, with the Bravehearts being designated the home team for games one and three.
In game one on Thursday Worcester jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with runs in the bottom of the first on a Ben Rice groundout and a passed ball. The score would stay that until the seventh when the Silver Knights grabbed two runs to tie it. In the bottom of the eighth the Bravehearts retook the lead on an RBI single from EJ Exposito, and Barker entered the game in the ninth to earn his second career postseason save as the Bravehwarts took game one 3-2. Shawn Babineau earned the win in relief.
Friday’s game two was over almost as soon as it started as Nashua put up five runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back on a 5-1 Worcester loss. The Bravehearts lone run came on a Nick Martin solo shot in the third inning.
It was winner take all on Saturday, and things did not start off well for Worcester as they allowed three runs in the top of the first. Shaw cut that lead to 3-1 with a homer on the third pitch in the bottom of the frame. In the second Shaw earned another RBI when he drove in Wilde on an infield out.
It would stay 3-2 until late in the game when Nashua put up runs in the tops of the eighth and ninth innings. In the bottom of the ninth, Ben Rice would make it 5-3 with an RBI single but the Bravehearts season would end with the winning run at the plate on a strikeout.
210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Justin Murray gets the nod this week, striking out 13 of the 26 batters he faced over six and a third innings in two stints.
Batter: Matt Shaw is the easy winner here, going 11-24 during the week with a double, five home runs, six RBI, and seven runs scored.
This week’s opponents
See you in May, 2021!
Around the FCBL
@Nahua 13, North Shore 9
@North Shore 4, Brockton 3
Nashua 4, @Westfield 3