WooBall Weekly: Bravehearts still over .500 and in the playoff hunt

It was a new week for the Worcester Bravehearts as they looked to gain some momentum to make a push into the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s playoffs, but they didn’t start off on the right foot in an 11-4 loss to Nashua at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field on Tuesday.

Already down a run after a half inning Sebastian Salado lauched a solo home run to make it 1-1 after one, but two four-run frames by the Silver Knights were too much for Worcester to overcome. The Bravehearts other runs came on a Buddy Mrowka sacrifice fly in the fifth and back to back sixth inning RBIs from Zach DeMattio and Mrowka.

It was off to Bullens Field in Westfield Wednesday for Worcester, and once again they couldn’t put all the pieces together as WooBall dropped an 11-5 contest to the Starfires. Down one heading to the fifth, the Bravehearts seemingly took command of the game with a five-spot in the frame. Nick Martin drove in a run on an infield out to tie it, and both Sebastian Salado and Jared Berardino launched two-run doubles to make it 5-1. But Westfield would have two five-run innings of their own to hand WooBall another loss.

The Bravehearts hit the road again on Thursday, this time trekking north to take on Nashua, and on this night Worcester got everything moving in the right direction as they defeated the Silver Knights 6-3. Gavin Noriega launched a three-run homer in the third to give WooBall the lead, and in the fifth a Sebastian Salado RBI single made it 4-0. In the seventh Randy Flores knocked in two with a double to cap Worcester’s scoring. Nashua had a three-spot in the eighth for the 6-3 final.

Max LeBlanc earned the win going five innings, allowing four hits and no runs while striking out three.

Friday saw New Britain visiting the HIP for a doubleheader and in game one the Bravehearts got a complete-game shutout from Luke Delongchamp to help defeat the Sea Unicorns 10-0 in a game shortened to six innings by the mercy rule. Delongchamp allowed just three hits in the game, and 51 of his 79 pitches were for strikes.

A second-inning double by Buddy Mrowka scored Wooball’s first run, and then he scored on a wild pitch. In the fourth Andrew Eppinger launched a two-run shot in the fourth to make it 4-0, and in the fifth Worcester added three runs on a Gavin Noriega RBI triple and RBI singles by Kenny Mallory Jr. and Matt Maloney. In the sixth Sebastian Salado had an RBI single, and Noriega’s two-run double made it a ten run lead, ending the game.

Game two started off poorly for Worcester as starter Alex Amalfi allowed three runs in the top of the first, but the UMass Boston junior showed why he’s one of the aces on the staff when he didn’t allow a runner past second base the rest of the way while striking out 12 in winning an 8-3 contest.

It only took two innings for Worcester to get the game back to even, with Andrew Selima knocking in two in the first with a single and Randy Flores earning an RBI in the second to make it 3-3. Worcester took the lead in the fourth on an Alex Neff RBI single, and in the sixth put the game out of reach with a four-spot in the frame. Lewis Barnum got the scoring going with an RBI single, and after a run on an infield error both Andrew Selima and Jared Berardino walked with the bases loaded. Dennis Colleran then pitched a scoreless seventh frame, striking out two.

Defense was the story for Worcester on Saturday when they hosted Nashua as two second-inning errors put them behind the eight-ball in a 6-2 loss to the Silver Knights. Those errors resulted in three Nashua runs, and the WooBall bats just weren’t able to get anything against the Silver Knights’ pitching until it was too late to do any good. Kenny Mallory Jr. went 3-4 in the game and scored Worcester’s first run of the game when he stole third and scored on an error in the seventh. Zach DeMattio‘s ninth frame homer was their other run.

Brockton was the visitor at the HIP on Sunday for a doubleheader, and the first game was delayed a bit because of a morning rain shower and then because the umpires were late. But none of that played a role in Wooball’s 6-4 loss in the opener. Worcester got out of the gate quickly, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first. After Gavin Noriega extended his on-base streak to a franchise-record 24 games Zach DeMattio singled in a run to make it 1-0.

Three batters later Andrew Eppinger singled with the bases loaded to drive in two, and Matt Maloney followed with an RBI double. But that would end the scoring for the Bravehearts. The Rox would put up three in the top of the second to close within one and then got the tying run in the top of the seventh. In the eighth Brockton got two to win it.

In game two it was Brockton’s Brady Afthim taking on Worcester’s Bryce Afthim, and it was older brother Bryce getting the 2-0 win for Wooball. Both of Worcester’s runs came in the second inning, with Zach DeMattio‘s infield single driving in the first run, and Kenny Mallory Jr. earning the second RBI. Bryce struck out seven in six innings, giving way to Griffin OConnor in the seventh for the save.

210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Luke Delongchamp is the easy winner for his 7-inning complete-game shutout. He also tacked on 1.2 innings of hitless relief earlier in the week.
Batter: Gavin Noriega is another easy winner this week, ending the week on a Bravehearts franchise-record 25 game on-base streak. He went 8-22 on the week with a double, triple, and home run. He also walked four times and scored six runs.

This week’s opponents
Monday off
Tuesday vs Brockton, 6:30pm
Wednesday @ New Britain, 6:30pm
Thursday vs Nashua, 6:30
Friday vs Pittsfield, 6:30pm
Saturday vs Westfield, 6:30pm
Sunday vs Vermont, 4p

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

Around the FCBL
@Westfield 4, Brockton 0
Pittsfield 11, @Norwich 4
@Vermont 7, Brockton 3 (game 1, 8 innings)
Brockton @ Vermont (game 2), ppd, rain

@Nashua 11, Norwich 4
New Britain 12, @Pittsfield 4
Brockton 5, @Vermont 2 (game 1, 7 innings)
Brockton @ Vermont (game 2), ppd, rain

New Britain 6, @Norwich 5
Westfield 10, @Pittsfield 9

@Brockton 6, Nashua 3 (game 1, 7 innings)
@Brockton 2, Nashua 1 (game 2, 5 innings/rain)
Westfield 12, @New Britain 5
Vermont 10, @Pittsfield 6

Westfield 8, @Norwich 6
Pittsfield 4, @Brockton 3 (10 innings)
Vermont 11, @New Britain 1 (8 innings, mercy)

@Norwich 3, Westfield 1 (game 1, 7 innings)
Westfield @ Norwich (game 2, late)
Nashua @ Pittsfield, ppd, rain

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

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