Wednesday began the Worcester Bravehearts 2021 Futures Collegiate Baseball League season with their return to Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field after spending the 2020 campaign playing out of Doyle Field in Leominster due to the Holy Cross campus being closed due to COVID.
After ceremonial first pitches by Mayor Joe Petty and Worcester’s medical director Doctor Michael Hirsh the Bravehearts went to work and built up a 5-2 lead over the Westfield Starfires after two and a half innings. Unfortunately, Mother Nature intervened and the heavy rains left the field unplayable, suspending the opener until a later date. In the short time they played Dakota Harris became the third WooBall player to double in his first at-bat with the team, and El Rico Riley and Michael Chaves Jr became the 16th and 17th players to single in their first Bravehearts plate appearance.
It was a rematch of the 2020 FCBL championship series Thursday as the Worcester traveled to Nashua to take on the Silver Knights, and despite getting just five hits and committing five errors WooBall was able to spoil Nashua’s ring ceremony game with a 5-4 come from behind win.
Down two after the opening frame, Worcester knotted the score in the fourth on an Alex Neff RBI single and Jonathan Santucci sacrifice fly. In the sixth the Bravehearts took the lead for good when Michael Chaves Jr walked with the bases loaded, and Wooball added another run on a double-play ball. Nashua got one back in the seventh, but a Chaves eighth inning sac fly was an important insurance run as the Silver Knights added one more in the home half for the 5-4 final.
Max LeBlanc struck out ten but fell one batter short to qualify for the win due to pitch count. LJ Keevan got the victory in relief, striking out six in two and two-thirds. Griffin OConnor then notched the two inning save.
The rain was the victor Friday as the entire FCBL schedule was postponed, so the Norwich Sea Unicorns will have to wait for another day for their first trip to the HIP.
The Bravehearts were likely wishing Saturday’s contest against Pittsfield was rained out because the Suns pitchers held Worcester to just two hits in 10-3 WooBall loss at the HIP. Michael Perales had both hits for the Bravehearts, RBI singles in both the seventh and ninth innings. A Nick Martin ninth-inning sacrifice fly accounted for their third run.
Alex Amalfi pitched well but took the hard-luck loss, striking out six in five innings and allowing just a single run. The Worcester bullpen blew up after that, allowing nine runs. El Rico Riley, who is listed as an outfielder but has pitched some in college, struck out three of the four batters he faced in the ninth inning. The one he didn’t whiff reached on an error.
On Sunday the rain beat WooBall again, postponing their home match-up against New Britain.
210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: LJ Keevan gets the nod in week #1, striking out six and earning a relief win.
Batter: Michael Perales is the winner, going 2-4 with 2RBI and a stolen base in the one game he played.
This week’s opponents
Monday vs Nashua, 1pm
Wednesday @ Nashua, 6pm
Thursday @ Vermont, 7pm
Friday @ Vermont, 7pm
Saturday @ Pittsfield (DH), 5:30pm
Sunday @ Nashua, 3pm
Tickets to Bravehearts home games can be purchased online or by calling (508) 438-3773.
Around the FCBL
Pittsfield 14, @Brockton 6
@New Britain 11, Norwich 6
@Westfield 3, Vermont 2 (10 innings)
@Brockton 4, Norwich 4 (HRD: Brockton, 2-1)
@Pittsfield 2, New Britain 2 (HRD: Pittsfield, 1-0)
Vermont @ Pittsfield, ppd
Nashua @ Westfield, ppd
Brockton @ New Britain, ppd
@Vermont 6, Norwich 3
Nashua @ Brockton, ppd
New Britain @ Westfield, ppd
Norwich 6, @Vermont 2
Brockton @ Nashua, ppd
Westfield @ Pittsfield, ppd
For frequent updates on the Worcester Bravehearts follow @210Darryl on twitter.
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