WooBall Weekly: Bravehearts clinch FCBL playoffs for 8th consecutive season

The Worcester Bravehearts entered the final week of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s regular season in the fourth and final playoff spot, but because of scheduling still were going to need a little bit of help to clinch their spot. They got that help on Tuesday from Vermont and took a giant leap toward the playoffs themselves with a 9-4 win over the Pittsfield Suns.

Playing their final road game of the regular season WooBall came out of the gates quickly, putting up two runs in the top of the first on Zach DeMattio‘s double with two on. The Bravehearts then broke it open in the second frame with a five-spot in the inning. Buddy Mrowka started the scoring with an RBI single, and two batters later Cam Caraher made it 4-0 with an RBI double. A Gavin Noriega single scored another run, and a Zach DeMattio sacrifice fly scored another and an outfield error allowed the fifth run to score.

In the fourth a Matt Maloney single drove in two more runs to cap Worcester’s scoring. Ryan O’Donnell earned the win with two innings of scoreless relief, striking out four. In the fifth O’Donnell tied the WooBall record when he needed just five pitches to retire the side.

Wednesday saw the Brockton Rox visiting Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field, and early on it was a see-saw affair until the Rox took control in the middle of the contest and handed the Bravehearts a 13-5 loss. Down 2-0 after the top of the first Worcester got three runs on a Gavin Noriega RBI single, a passed ball, and a fielder’s choice to take a 3-2 lead. They’d lose that lead in the next half and by the time Mark Darakjy launched a fifth inning sac fly the game was almost out of reach. The Bravehearts final run came in the sixth on a Sebastian Salado RBI single. It wasn’t all bad news as Westfield also lost, inching WooBall closer to clinching a spot.

New Britain was the visitor to the HIP on Thursday, and just before the scheduled first pitch of the game, a thunderstorm passed over the city. The Bravehearts worked two and a half hours on the field getting it ready to play, and they were rewarded with an 11-3 victory. WooBall got a quick lead in the first when Gavin Noriega hit a two-run homer, and three batters later an Andrew Selima double scored another run. The next batter was Lewis Barnum, and he launched a two-run shot of his own to make it 5-0. WooBall then scored on an error in the third for a sixth run.

In the fourth Noriega homered again, this time knocking in three. After the Bees scored two in the fifth Barnum answered with his second long ball of the contest. In the eighth Noriega tacked on a sacrifice fly for the final. Luke Delongchamp earned the win, going five innings and striking out seven.

The entire playoffs race came down to Friday, and Worcester knew exactly what was needed; a win by them against Nashua or a loss by Westfield, and WooBall would be heading to the playoffs for an eighth straight season. Early on it became apparent the Starfires weren’t going to lose, and not only did they win 10-0 but pitcher Roland Thivierge threw a no-hitter for Westfield. By the end of the night, thanks in part to one of the most amazing plays this writer has ever seen, WooBall came out on top 10-1 and advanced into the playoffs.

The Bravehearts got on the board first on Zach DeMattio‘s opening inning sac fly. The Silver Knights tied in in the third, but WooBall struck back on a fourth-inning Lewis Barnum RBI double. A second run in the frame was erased on an appeal by Nashua after Kenny Mallory Jr. appeared to have knocked in a run with a sac fly. The Silver Knights appealed saying Andrew Selima left third base early, and home plate umpire Jeff Kleiner ruled Selima out. Bravehearts manager Alex Dion had to be restrained by his coaching staff as he vehemently argued the call, and was ejected. It appeared to those along the first base side, including a couple of Nashua fans, that the call was incorrect. Luckily WooBall didn’t end up needing that run, with Worcester officially plating their third run in the fifth on a Zach DeMattio sacrifice fly.

The sixth inning saw one of the oddest plays you could ever imagine. Words cannot accurately describe it, but luckily the FCBL tweeted a video of the play.

Worcester grabbed another run in the frame on a wild pitch, and the rout was on. In the eighth Worcester made a run at ending the game early under the mercy rule when Selima and Lewis Barnum added RBI singles, but the game went the full nine with WooBall on top. Starter Alex Amalfi went four innings, striking out five. Tyler Mudd earned his second win of the season with a three-inning relief stint striking out four. Griffin O’Connor and Dennis Colleran each had three up-three down frames to end the game.

210Sports’ Bravehearts of the week
Pitcher: Ryan O’Donnell gets the nod here in the short week, pitching four innings in two appearances and striking out eight. He did not allow a hit.
Batter: Gavin Noriega wins for the third week in a row, a first here on 210Sports. In four games he went 9-17 with two doubles, two home runs, and eight RBI. He added four runs scored

This week’s opponents
Saturday @ Vermont, 6:30pm
Sunday vs Vermont, 5pm
Monday @ Vermont, if necessary, TBA

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

Around the FCBL
Westfield @ Brockton, canceled, rain

@Nashua 3, New Britain 0 (game 1, 7 innings)
@Nashua 3, New Britain 2 (game 2, 7 innings)
@Brockton 11, Norwich 3
@Vermont 6, Westfield 4

@Vermont 7, Westfield 4
Nashua 2, New Britain 1

Brockton 6, @Nashua 5 (game 1, 7 innings)
Brockton 11, @Nashua 10 (game 2, 7 innings)
Westfield 7, @Norwich 5 (game 1, 7 innings)
Westfield 10, @Norwich 5 (game 2, 7 innings)
Pittsfield 8, @Vermont 0

@Brockton 11, New Britain 9 (6 innings, darkness)
@Westfield 10, Norwich 0
Pittsfield 12, @Vermont 8

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

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