Another eventful week around the Futures League saw a new king arise as well as multiple upset victories. Whether teams were on a tear or looking for their bats to get hot again, the competition is surely heating up with only two weeks before the All-Star Game.
The Worcester Bravehearts have surpassed the Vermont Lake Monsters for first place in the league standings by two games and have been playing their best baseball of the season. Going 8-2 in their last 10 games, the Bravehearts went on a league-leading nine-game winning streak that included a two-game sweep over Vermont. Shortstop Tyler Bastunas (Drury University) has cemented himself as a possible MVP candidate, leading all qualifying hitters in the league with a .402 batting average. Also, pitcher Max LeBlanc’s (University of Massachusetts) seven-strikeout performance Wednesday put him in the league lead in K’s with 44 on the season.
Don’t let a 5-5 record in its last 10 games fool you because the Vermont Lake Monsters find themselves in second place. Despite 2 tough losses to the aforementioned Bravehearts, the team is on a two-game winning streak after sweeping the Westfield Starfires at home this past weekend. Pitcher Francis Ferguson (Eastern Nazarene College), who has been hot all year, is tied for third in the league in strikeouts with 35 and has had no less than four strikeouts in each of his last five appearances. Left fielder Tommy Martin (Yale University) is also fourth in the league in batting average with a .322 and had two hits in the Vermont win Saturday.
The Norwich Sea Unicorns continue to stand in third place, going 6-4 in their last 10 games and sitting just two games behind the Lake Monsters. The team is also on a two-game winning streak after securing a 2-1 walk-off win against the Nashua Silver Knights Saturday and an 11-9 win against the Bravehearts in Worcester Sunday. Left fielder DJ Perron Jr. (University of Rhode Island) has been playing like an all-star after a two-RBI day in Worcester moved him into second in the league with 25 RBI. Perron has also hit two home runs.
The New Britain Bees are the new hottest team in the league. Currently riding a five-game winning streak and going 6-4 in their last 10 games, the team could quickly move up the league standings as early as Tuesday when they play the Norwich Sea Unicorns, where a win would move them up to third place. The Bees swept the Brockton Rox in a four-game series on the backs of great performances by second baseman Tyler Pettorini (Ohio State University), who had two runs including a home run and five RBI, as well pitcher Dylan Scudder (Eastern Connecticut State University), who had five strikeouts Friday and leads the league in wins with four.
Despite being swept by the Lake Monsters last weekend, the Westfield Starfires have taken the fifth-place spot. The team has been lighting it up on offense and defense with two of the best players in the league. Rivaling Bastunas, first baseman Nick Serce (Alfred State University) has been the team’s best asset and is also an MVP candidate. He hit his league-leading eighth home run of the season Thursday and had five RBI this week to put himself into the lead in that category with 27. Pitcher Ryan Bailey (Alfred State University) stands in second place in strikeouts with 42 on the season.
The Pittsfield Suns move down to sixth place this week after going 5-5 in their last 10 games and looking to get back into the win column after a loss to the Bravehearts Sunday. Although the team suffered that loss, second baseman Jimmy King’s (College of the Holy Cross) three hits and two stolen bases helped the Suns snap Worcester’s nine-game winning streak with an 8-7 walk-off win Friday night. King also currently stands fourth in the league with a .316 batting average.
In another case of ‘don’t let their record fool you,’ the Nashua Silver Knights have been on a tear winning four of their last six games. Despite being in seventh place, the Silver Knights are just four games behind Pittsfield and five behind Westfield, which could be made up by the all-star break. Second baseman Jack McDermott (Amherst College) helped the team capture a 5-2 home win over cross-state rival Vermont after going 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBI. First baseman Shane Wockley (Mount St. Mary’s University) has also been a stellar performer on the team, standing second in the league in home runs with five.
Lastly, for the Brockton Rox who stand in eighth place, the team is just looking to get back into the win column this week. Losing 9 games in a row certainly hurts, but a lot of new players have been able to get playing time showing future potential for the team. For example, pitcher Dominic Chieffalo (University of Scranton) is second in the league in wins with three and TJ Curley (Mount St. Mary’s University) is tied for seventh in the league in strikeouts with 30. There is still a long season left to go, and perhaps the upcoming all-star break is just what the team needs to improve.
With just two weeks until the All-Star Game and another whole month before playoff time, there is still a lot of baseball to be played for all eight teams. For the latest news and information on the Futures League all year long, visit thefuturesleague.com and follow the league’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to catch your favorite team all season long either at the ballpark or on the Futures League Network.