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FCBL Around The Diamond: August 14, 2021

By Benjamin Upson

Last Night’s Games:

Friday, August 13

Brockton Rox 11, New Britain Bees 9 (6 innings)

The final night of regular season competition began up at Campanelli Stadium as the Brockton Rox hosted the New Britain Bees. In what was primarily a meaningless game for New Britain, Brockton needed a win AND a Pittsfield loss in order to clinch the #2 seed in the playoffs.  

Brockton set the tone early on offense with 3 runs to open the game in the 1st inning with a pair of RBI singles and an error to take a 3-0 lead. They were not done yet as they continued to pile it on in the 4th inning with a 3-run home run by left fielder Ben Rounds (Harvard University). At that point after 4 innings, Brockton held a 7-4 advantage.

Ben Rounds is the player of the game for Brockton with another successful night on offense, going 3-4 with a home run and 4 RBIs. Rounds has really turned it on during the final stretch of the season, racking up 13 hits and 18 RBIs over the course of the final 8 games.

4 more runs came across in the 5th inning off a bases loaded walk, RBI single, sacrifice fly and stolen base home. Jacob Studley attempted to steal second base and instead the Bees defense opted to try and get the runner out at home plate, Tommy Lapham (Babson College). He ended up scoring as the tag was missed at home plate, and all of a sudden Brockton had quickly regained the lead 11-9 in a battle of trading places with New Britain. 

11-9 actually ended up being the final score as this game had to be called due to poor lighting. During the season, it was an issue to get some games completed at Campanelli Stadium which forced the Rox to begin playing at 5:00PM instead of the traditional 6:00PM start. 

The Rox are locked into the playoffs at the #3 seed, just without home-field advantage. They are going to head over to Wahconah Park to face the Pittsfield Suns in Game 1 of their best-of-3 series at 6:05PM Saturday. 

 

Westfield Starfires 10, Norwich Sea Unicorns 0 (7 innings)

The Norwich Sea Unicorns headed up to Bullens Field on Friday night to finish their season with the Westfield Starfires, who were in search of some Bullens magic to make one final push for the 2021 postseason. No matter what the outcome was going to be, it ended up turning into a night we would not forget. 

Roland Thivierge (Mitchell College) put on a show in what would become the final game of the season for the Starfires. 7 no-hit innings with 10 strikeouts and an E6 shy of a perfect game. Roland’s gem also keeps a streak alive on the final night of the regular season. His unforgettable night makes it 3 straight years now with at least 1 no-hit performance in the Futures League. 

Westfield took care of the offense mightily, racking up 10 runs on 17 hits total throughout the game, including scoring a run in every single inning except for the 5th. They won in a mercy rule during the 7th inning when Dougie DeLaCruz singled to center field. The ball was mishandled and allowed for Starfires center fielder Hunter Pasqualini (Central Connecticut State University) to score the winning run as they won by a score of 10-0. 

The player of the game goes to Hunter Pasqualini) who tallied 3 RBIs on the night with a 2-run double and sacrifice fly. Pasqualini had a strong finish to his 2021 campaign, rounding out with a .299 average with 21 RBIs, recording at least 1 hit in 10 of his last 11 games. 

Unfortunately, the season came to a close with Worcester’s ultimate 10-1 victory over the Nashua Silver Knights, dashing Westfield’s hopes of the playoffs. There are plenty of great highlights to look back on from 2021, including Roland Thivierge’s no-hitter to end the season and Cole Bartels winning the league MVP award. For a franchise that has previously struggled, there is plenty of hope looking ahead for the Starfires.

 

Worcester Bravehearts 10, Nashua Silver Knights 1

The Worcester Bravehearts hosted the Nashua Silver Knights on Friday at Fitton Field in their regular season finale in front of a massive crowd, just shy of 3,500 fans. The process was simple: a win and the Bravehearts would be in the playoffs. A loss meant that they would need Westfield to lose as well. 

It was a slower paced start to the game as the teams were even at 1-1 after the 3rd inning after a pair of sacrifice flyouts from Nashua and Worcester. The Bravehearts regained the lead in the 4th off an RBI double from Lewis Barnum (Bryant University) to go back up 2-1. 

With the very fast pace of the Westfield game, Worcester knew as early as the 5th inning that they would need to win the game in order to occupy the final playoff spot. Another sacrifice fly by catcher Zach DeMattio (Wheaton College) during the 5th put them ahead 3-1 and were looking for more. 

After Nashua left the bases loaded in their half of the 6th inning, the Bravehearts broke through on one of the most bizarre plays you might ever see in baseball at any level. Center fielder Nick Martin (Westfield State University) was able to get a shallow single into right field that dropped for a hit. After an error by Nashua first baseman Will MacLean (UMass) that airmailed home plate, Martin ended up coming all the way around to score with an inside the park grand slam!

All in all, that play stripped the confidence away from the Silver Knights as 5 runs came to the plate in the 6th inning. After 2 more RBI singles were scored in the 8th, it was a dominant 10-1 victory in the regular season finale for the Bravehearts. 

As they controlled their own destiny, Worcester did not have to worry about Westfield and they are officially playoff bound with the win! They are headed up to Vermont on Saturday where they will begin their best-of-3 series with the #1 seed Lake Monsters, looking to pull off what would be an upset. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05PM from Centennial Field in Burlington. 

 

Pittsfield Suns 12, Vermont Lake Monsters 8

The night ended up north as the Pittsfield Suns took on the Vermont Lake Monsters in their final game of the regular season. It was looking like Brockton was going to hang on and win out east against New Britain. This meant the pressure was shifting on Pittsfield to win and clinch the #2 seed to head home for the start of their playoffs.

The scoring opened in the 3rd inning for Pittsfield when Jack Cooney (Springfield College) knocked a home run out of Centennial Field to make it a 1-0 Suns lead. Vermont answered with 3 runs in the bottom half, as Chris Brown (UConn) challenged with a 3-run home run, putting the Lake Monsters right back in front 3-1.

Next in the 4th inning, Pittsfield recorded 3 RBI singles in 4 batters to quickly regain a 4-3 lead. From there, Chris Brown came up clutch yet again for Vermont with an RBI single in the 5th to tie the game at 4-4. This was turning into a thriller and potential playoff preview of what we might expect to see from these teams over the coming days. 

The Suns separated themselves in the later innings, chipping away at it from the 6th inning on with a sacrifice fly by Joel Lara (Frankin Pierce University) and RBI single in the 7th by Mike Gervasi (UMass Amherst). It was 5-3 at the time as they tacked 2 more on in the 8th inning to make it an 8-4 ball game. 

Vermont was not done just yet as they tried to make a rally out of it. They were only able to manage getting 1 run back in the 8th off their own sacrifice fly to cut their deficit to 8-5. It ultimately did not matter as the pitching snapped in the 9th, allowing 4 consecutive walks and 2 wild pitches. All in all, the Suns scored 4 runs on just 1 hit, putting the game out of reach. They led 12-5 heading into the bottom half of the 9th. Despite 3 more Lake Monsters runs coming across, the final score was 12-8 in favor of Pittsfield. 

It was a confidence boosting series sweep for the Pittsfield Suns as they took down the Lake Monsters on both Thursday and Friday, handing them their first 2 game losing streak since the end of June. The Suns are heading into the playoffs with the #2 seed and home-field advantage during their first round series with the Brockton Rox. Remember that first pitch is scheduled for 6:05PM on Saturday from Wahconah Park in Pittsfield.  

 

2021 FCBL Playoffs

#4 Worcester Bravehearts at #1 Vermont Lake Monsters

Game 1: @ Vermont Saturday 6:05pm

Game 2: @ Worcester Sunday 5:00pm

*Game 3: @ Vermont Monday TBD (If Necessary)* 

 

#3 Brockton Rox at #2 Pittsfield Suns

Game 1: @ Pittsfield Saturday 6:05pm

Game 2: @ Brockton Sunday 3:00pm

*Game 3: @ Pittsfield Monday TBD (If Necessary)*

 

FCBL Nightly Awards:

Player Of The Night: LF #11 Ben Rounds, Brockton (3-4, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI) (Harvard University)

Pitcher Of The Night: #27 Roland Thivierge, Westfield (CG, WIN, 7 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 10 K) (Mitchell College)