WORCESTER—The Worcester Bravehearts (FCBL) broke their attendance record on Wednesday morning, as they invited 4,933 school children from Worcester and the surrounding towns to attend their 4-2 victory over the Pittsfield Suns.
The Hanover Insurance Company sponsored the school children’s visit to Fitton Field on the campus of Holy Cross, creating a ‘great’ family environment for everyone involved.
“It just shows how much the City of Worcester cares about the (Bravehearts), and how much this team cares about them,” said Worcester native and Braveheart infielder Mariano Ricciardi.
The packed house witnessed a great pitching debut from Braveheart’s 6’2” pitcher Eric Chavarria (Bellflower, CA), who went seven innings allowing only two-hits while striking out 10, to improve the Bravehearts to (3-2) overall.
“I was really nervous, being my first start in Worcester,” Chavarria said. “My fastball and curveball were working well today, [and] being able to spot them really helped a lot.”
Chavarria opened the game striking out two of the first three batters he faced, for a perfect first frame. The southeastern Los Angeles product would find himself in trouble to start the second inning, as the leadoff hitter reached on an error.
Chavarria walked the next batter, missing on the outside of the plate, to put a Pittsfield runner in scoring position.
The 6’2” power pitcher settled down from there, as he struck out the next two Pittsfield hitters, before inducing a weak ground-ball to first to end the threat.
“(Chavarria) was excellent the whole day, he works fast, gets ahead of (hitters), and doesn’t get himself in a lot of bad counts,” said Worcester Braveheart manager Alex Dion.
The Cypress Junior College (CA) righty would go on to retire 12 of the next 13 batters he faced, allowing only one runner to reach on an error, and maintaining a no-hitter entering the seventh inning.
“I wasn’t thinking about that at all,” said Chavarria of the no-hit bid entering the seventh.
Pittsfield opened the seventh with a walk, and a single to left by Pittsfield’s Matt Malcolm to break up the no-hit bid.
The Suns put on the hit-and-run, as Jack Culumovic laced a single to right to put Pittsfield up 1-0.
Worcester answered in the bottom of the seventh, as the Bravehearts’ CJ McKennitt (Concord,Ma) reached on an error, and the Bravehearts added another baserunner on a bloop single into shallow left-field.
PJ Barry (Holden, Ma) then lofted a ball to left-field that somehow carried over the Pittsfield outfielder’s head for a 2-run double and the Braveheart lead.
Pittsfield tied it up in the eighth, despite a diving effort by Barry in centerfield, who was able to catch a sinking line-drive off the bat of Pittsfield’s Jackson Peterson, with runners in scoring position.
However, his glove came off his hand, allowing the run to score to tie the game at 2-2.
Yet the Bravehearts would answer again, as Ricciardi was able to fight off an inside fastball on the hands, for a leadoff double, as he hit a soft liner just over third base.
“I was looking (inside), and (the pitcher) threw in, but I got tied up,” Ricciardi said. “I was just happy to get enough (bat) on it, to get on (second base).”
Worcester’s Paul Coumoulos would plate Ricciardi with the go-ahead run, with a single to right. The Bravehearts would add an insurance run on a sacrifice fly, for the 4-2 win.
“(Ricciardi) has been here before, and he has come through in the (clutch), we needed a single or extra-base hit in that situation,” Dion said, “and we were able to take advantage of the opportunity and punch two across the board.”
The Bravehearts play next on Thursday morning at 10:30 AM vs. the Westfield Starfires.
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