Another eventful week around the Futures League saw more fierce competition and history being made for two franchises, one being on a national stage with NESN. Whether teams were on a tear or looking for their bats to get hot again, the competition is surely heating up with the Futures League All-Star Game in Vermont less than a week away.
The Worcester Bravehearts have been on a roller coaster this week but still hold the narrow first place lead in the league standings. Despite losses to the Vermont Lake Monsters and Westfield Starfires, the team took a quick turnaround winning their next 3 games including a sweep over the New Britain Bees Saturday. Shortstop Tyler Bastunas (Drury) has added to his stellar season by not only continuing to have a top-three batting average in the league at .375 but also by notching his 31st stolen base, a Bravehearts franchise record Wednesday. Also, pitcher Clay Robbins (Southern Maine) has moved up to fourth in the league in strikeouts with 39.
Making a splash going 8-2 in their last 10 games and moving up to second place in the league standings this week are the Norwich Sea Unicorns. After sweeping the Brockton Rox and Lake Monsters, as well as getting wins over the Nashua Silver Knights and Bravehearts, Norwich sits just one loss behind Worcester. First baseman Andrew Bianco (New Haven) has been just one of the key pieces of the team’s recent winning ways. He hit his sixth home run and drove in his 31st run to cement himself into second place in the league in both categories. Also, third baseman Dean Ferrara (Fairfield) won Plakata Player of the Week honors after going 9-for-18 with five runs scored, four RBI and two stolen bases.
The Vermont Lake Monsters have been a definition of consistency throughout the season. With a 5-5 record in its last 10 games, the team continues to stay competitive despite falling to third place in the league standings this week. A sweep of the Bravehearts and a split with the Sea Unicorns shows that they can still hang with the league’s top competitors. Pitcher Francis Ferguson (Eastern Nazarene) has been the answer for this team on the mound throughout the season and that continued this week as he stands in fifth place in the league in strikeouts with 38. Also, pitchers Evan Maloney (Rhode Island) and Ben Alekson (Fairfield) both won 78 Sports Pitcher of the Night honors after throwing a combined 16 strikeouts.
It’s been an up-and-down road for the New Britain Bees over the last week. The team currently sits on a five-game losing streak after being swept by the Bravehearts and suffering losses from the Starfires and Lake Monsters, but still manages a fourth-place standing. While the Bees have a 2.5-game cushion between them and the fifth-place Starfires, they will need to get back into the win column before all-star weekend to stay in the playoff race. Pitcher Brian Hart (Hofstra) threw for four strikeouts in a loss to Worcester Saturday, but it brings him up to third place in that category with his now 40 on the season.
The Westfield Starfires are on the hunt, slowly closing the gap between themselves and the Bees. Going 5-5 in its last 10 games, the team will be drawn a tough hand with three road matchups against the first-place Bravehearts in the next five games. First baseman Nick Serce (Alfred State) was the second player to make history for the Futures League this week after hitting his franchise record 10th home run of the season Friday. Serce also stands in third place in RBIs this season with 30. Pitcher Ryan Bailey (Alfred State) has been the second Pioneer to make noise in the league as his 52 strikeouts currently lead the league by eight. Bailey also won Saturday’s Pitcher of the Night honors after tossing 10 strikeouts in six innings.
The Pittsfield Suns maintain their sixth-place position in the league but find themselves on a three-game winning streak. Going 5-5 in its last 10 games, the team dominated in the battle of the ‘S’ teams with two home wins over the Starfires, which included a 2-1 win in a home run derby, and a road win over the Sea Unicorns. Second baseman Jimmy King’s (Holy Cross) bat continues to stay hot, as he stands in sixth place in league batting average at .292.
The Nashua Silver Knights have been on an up and down trajectory this week as they stand in seventh place in the league standings. While the team has gone 6-4 in its last 10 games, the rain postponed many of the team’s games this week, which should give the team some much-needed rest. In the three games the Silver Knights played, the team won all three, scoring a season-high 10 runs in a win against the Brockton Rox Saturday. Outfielder Shane McNamara (Eastern Nazarene) has taken over first place in the league in RBI with 32 as well as earning Player of the Night honors after going 3-for-6 with a home run and three RBI in Saturday’s win.
Lastly, for the Brockton Rox who stand in eighth place, the team is just looking to get back into the win column this week and get a fresh start after all-star weekend. While the team has lost 5 straight games, they did capture a 7-6 win over the Suns Tuesday night that gave the Campanelli Stadium crowd some excitement. Pitcher TJ Curley (Mount St. Mary’s) threw for two strikeouts Saturday to move him up to tenth place in the league in strikeouts with 32. Also, three Rox players racked up four RBI, which is the most on any team in the last seven days.
With all-star weekend just one week away, the competition is sure to heat up in the last few weeks of play until postseason baseball. 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.