WooBall Weekly: Bravehearts hanging tough in close FCBL playoff chase

Rain has played a huge role in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s season so far, and Tuesday was no exception as all but the Worcester Bravehearts’ game was postponed by mid-afternoon. With it looking like there would be a window to play at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field near the scheduled first pitch time, that’s what WooBall and New Britain Bees did. Well, for three innings, at least.

With the rain still falling, Andrew Selima gave the Bravehearts a 1-0 lead with a solo home run in the second inning, but the Bees took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning on a two-run shot. Worcester was batting in the third and had already scored two runs, the second on a sacrifice fly by Tayven Kelley, when it got to the point where play couldn’t continue, and the game was suspended with one out and Dakota Harris on second base. No continuation date has been announced.

On Wednesday WooBall was probably wishing it had rained as they headed to Campanelli Stadium in Brockton to take on the Rox and came home with a 9-1 loss in their pockets. Down 3-0 after six frames the Bravehearts got a run in the seventh on a Sebastian Salado RBI double, but that would be all for the Worcester bats and Brockton would add six in the eighth frame for the final.

Nashua was the visitor to the HIP on Thursday and in one of the biggest comebacks in recent history the Bravehearts erased a six-run deficit and scored the eventual game-winning run on a Randy Flores straight steal of home in a 9-8 victory over the Silver Knights. Down those six runs after four and a half in the fifth Worcester’s comeback started with a run on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice and a two-run single by El Rico Riley. But Nashua got two of these tuns back in the top of the sixth, making it 8-3.

In the home half of the sixth WooBall batted around, scoring six times to take the lead for good. With the bases loaded Kenny Mallory Jr. singled in a run, and two batters later Michael Perales added an RBI walk. A Flores double cleared the bases, with the Bravehearts second baseman taking third on a throwing error. That set up just the second straight steal of home in Wooball franchise history for the game-winner.

Croix Jenkins earned his third relief win of the season, striking out two of the three batters he faced. Andrew Ruggiero notched his first save of the campaign with a scoreless ninth.

Friday had Westfield visiting the HIP, and while WooBall got out of the gate quickly it was the Starfires who controlled the later parts of the game in a 9-1 Worcester loss. WooBall took a 1-0 lead in the first on doubles by Nick Martin and Alex Neff, but that was it for the Bravehearts bats as they’d record just four more hits the rest of the way while Westfield piled up the runs. Outfielder Kenny Mallory Jr. best pitcher on the night, going 1.1 innings and striking out two.

WooBall went south to New Britain Stadium Saturday to take on the expansion Bees and needed another big comeback to put the game in the win column with an 8-6 victory. A first-inning RBI single by Tayven Kelley gave Worcester the lead, but it was 6-1 New Britain after five frames. In the sixth WooBall got back to even, with the comeback starting on Zach DeMattio‘s inside the park two-run homer. Four batter later El Rico Riley launched a three-run shot to make it 6-6.

A DeMattio two-run shot in the seventh, this one the more conventional over the fence home run, that gave Worcester the winning margin. Chris Radovic earned the win, with Tyler Mudd picking up a three-inning save.

The Silver Knights returned to the HIP Sunday as the Bravehearts were wearing specialty jerseys that were actioned off to benefit HMEA’s Autism Resource Central. After falling behind early WooBall found a little magic in those green jerseys and turned it around to win 9-6. Down three in the bottom of the second, the Worcester bats exploded for six runs, starting with Michael Perales‘ bases-loaded walk. El Rico Riley then got a painful RBI as he was hit by a pitch to force in a second run. Gavin Noriega‘s three-run double cleared the bases, and Tayven Kelley’s RBI single capped the scoring in the frame.

In the seventh inning the teams exchanged runs, with WooBall’s coming on a Kenny Mallory Jr. RBI single. In the top of the eighth Nashua scored twice more, but in the home half Riley crushed a two-run shot to left-center for the 9-6 final. Matt Nunan earned the win in relief, with Dennis Colleran picking up his first save of the season.

210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Aaron Dona is this week’s winner, allowing just a single earned run in four innings while strking out eight.
Batter: El Rico Riley gets the nod this week, going 4-16 with two home runs and eight RBI. He also scored four runs.

This week’s opponents
Monday off
Tuesday @New Britain, 6:30pm
Wednesday vs Brockton, 6:30
Thursday vs Pittsfield, 6:30
Friday @Norwich, 7pm
Saturday @Brockton, 5pm
Sunday @Norwich, 7pm

Tickets to Bravehearts home games can be purchased online or by calling (508) 438-3773.

Around the FCBL
Westfield @ Pittsfield (DH) ppd, rain
Norwich @ Brockton, ppd, rain
Vermont @ Nashua, ppd, rain

Vermont 6, Nashua 2 (game 1, 7 innings)
Vermont 10, Nashua 0 (game 2, 5 innings, mercy)
Pittsfield 13, Westfield 8
New Britain 13, Norwich 8

@New Britain 7, Pittsfield 4
Westfield 6, @Norwich 4
Brockton 4, @Vermont 3

@Norwich 13, Nashua 4 (completion of suspended game)
Nashua 7, @Norwich 2 (7 innings)
Pittsfield 4, @New Britain 4 (HRD, PIT 1-0)
Brockton 1, @Vermont 0

Vermont 1, @Norwich 0
Nashua 7, @Westfield 2
@Pittsfield 9, @Brockton 5

@Brockton 10, New Britain 9
@Westfield 16, Norwich 3 (7 innings, mercy)
@Pittsfield 4, Vermont 3 (game 1, 7 innings)
@Pittsfield 2, Vermont 1 (game 2, 7 innings)

For frequent updates on the Worcester Bravehearts follow @210Darryl on twitter.

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