By Benjamin Upson
Futures League Baseball is back in action for the second half of the season! This follows up on what was a spectacular 2 days worth of All-Star festivities in New Britain, Connecticut, hosted by the Bees organization. To recap, Monday night started it off with the home run derby. Cole Bartels of Westfield won the title, recording 22 homers over the 3 rounds, including 11 of them in the opening round.
Then it was Tuesday when Team East defeated Team West in the 2021 edition of the All-Star Game by a score of 10-2. Logan Ott of Nashua went 3-4 with a walk and 2 RBIs. He played all 9 innings in the Team East victory. Jack Choate of Worcester took home the most valuable pitcher award as he tossed a scoreless inning in relief, striking out 2 batters.
This is also the beginning of “Around The Diamond,” which we hope to continue throughout the last month of the 2021 season. Our plan is to provide a brief, written recap of games that occur around the league nightly to keep you up-to-date with all the thrilling action in the FCBL. After Vermont defeated Westfield on Wednesday, the following night marked the first full slate of FCBL action for the second half.
Last Night’s Games:
Thursday, July 15
New Britain Bees 6, Worcester Bravehearts 4 (Game 1) (7 innings)
A full slate of FCBL action began early Thursday morning at Fitton Field, where New Britain got their second half of the season off on the right foot with a road doubleheader sweep of Worcester.
Game 1 consisted of a back and forth battle. New Britain catcher Davis Cop (University of Utah) set the tone with an RBI double to put the Bees on the board in the 1st inning. Second baseman Michael Hernandez (Sacred Heart University) knocked an RBI double to score first baseman Jake Hyde (Georgetown University) in the 3rd inning, while Hyde returned the favor with an RBI single of his own in the 4th inning.
Worcester posted 3 runs in the bottom half of the 1st inning, via a passed ball, wild pitch and RBI single by designated hitter Sebastian Salado (Palm Beach Atlantic University), all coming off of Bees starting pitcher Michael Boyian (Sacred Heart University).
They were only able to send only 1 more run to the plate during the rest of the game. It came in the 4th inning when shortstop Randy Flores (Franklin Pierce University) recorded a sacrifice fly which made the score 6-4, the way that this one finished.
Jake Hyde was busy on the basepaths for New Britain and was the top player in Game 1, reaching base in all 4 of his plate appearances, 2-2 with 2 walks and 2 RBIs on a pair of singles. He showed why he was a member of the 2021 FCBL All-Star Game this past Tuesday.
To finish it off, Bees relief pitcher Bryson Cafaro (Fairfield University) shut the door on Worcester in Game 1, tossing 2.2 no-hit innings with just 1 walk allowed on 5 strikeouts, as he continued building upon his stellar season.
New Britain Bees 9, Worcester Bravehearts 1 (Game 2) (7 innings)
Game 2 went to the Bees with a comfortable 9-1 victory in the latter half of this doubleheader. They got ahead from the start and never looked back in this one, scoring 5 runs on 5 hits in the 6th inning, and taking advantage of some defensive errors by the Bravehearts defense which sealed the deal for the sweep.
The player of Game 2 was center fielder Ryan Bagdasarian (Eastern Connecticut State University), also an all-star selection, as he had a 2-3 day with a walk, 2 runs scored and 3 RBIs coming on a pair of RBI singles in the 3rd and 6th innings.
Starting pitcher Kevin Seitter (Quinnipiac University) threw 5 innings of efficient work for New Britain, allowing 1 run on 5 hits, 1 walk and 6 strikeouts.
The Bees had shown some struggles heading into the All-Star break with lackluster offense, scoring a total of 3 runs over their final 4 games against Brockton, Norwich and Vermont. Now scoring 15 runs today, this is the start they needed to gain some confidence moving forward as we approach the stretch run.
Nashua Silver Knights 16, Brockton Rox 3 (7 innings)
The evening slate began up at Campanelli Stadium with a lopsided contest between Nashua and Brockton. The Silver Knights have been looking for something to build off of, as things have not fared well for them in the first half after being crowned as the 2020 FCBL Champions last August.
This was a fantastic performance by the Silver Knights as they were able to post 16 runs on 16 hits, scoring at least 1 run in every inning from the 2nd to the 7th. It was highlighted by a total of 9 runs on 5 hits in the 7th inning as Nashua sent a total of 14 batters to the plate.
This would ultimately lead to a mercy rule under the new league rules, which state that if a team leads by 10 or more runs at the conclusion of 7 innings, the game is over.
It came against a potent Rox offense in this game that was held to just 3 runs on 6 hits. Brockton still remains at the top of the Futures League standings with the loss. Their record falls to 21-14 on the season. Overall, they couldn’t find any success outside of a few RBI walks to second baseman Jack Murphy (Saint Mary’s College of California) and third baseman Tommy Lapham (Babson College) that led off the game to give the Rox a 2-0 advantage which quickly faded.
There is no debate who the player of the game award goes to here. Nashua left fielder Jackson Linn (Tulane University) stole the show in just his 2nd appearance of the season. He went a perfect 5-5 with 4 RBIs, including 2 RBI doubles, an RBI single and he came across to score 3 times in the game.
This was a good warmup for Nashua as they are set to face Brockton once again on television across the New England region this Saturday at 12:00pm on NESN up at Holmann Stadium. This is part of the FCBL Saturday Showcase on Saturdays in July as the league is showcased on one of New England’s premier sports television networks.
Nashua has now won 3 straight games and is starting to find some momentum that they have sorely missed during the first half. They are now 12-24, let’s be sure to monitor their progress over the coming week or two to see where they go from here.
Vermont Lake Monsters 8, Pittsfield Suns 4
You know things are going in the right direction when you hit a double digit win streak. The Vermont Lake Monsters are certainly feeling that after clinching their 10th consecutive victory at Centennial Field. All of a sudden, they have launched up the FCBL standings all the way to 3rd place and are beginning to round into a playoff contender as the second half is just beginning to ramp up.
Thursday’s game brought the Pittsfield Suns up north to Burlington, as they were looking to regain some of their confidence back as they faltered just a bit heading into the All-Star break, going 5-5 in their last 10 games.
As we have seen so many times in the Futures League, games can tend to have such bizarre yet interesting swings and it was no different here. Pittsfield posted 3 quick runs to lead off the game off a Vermont defensive error and an RBI single from catcher Jackson Appel (University of Pennsylvania) which led to 2 more runs scored (1 earned, 1 unearned).
Vermont chipped away at the 3-0 deficit throughout the first 3 innings and were able to get it to a 3-3 tie by the end of that 3rd inning. It broke open in the 5th when Suns starting pitcher Jack Mullen (Bowdoin College) lost control of the situation, loading the bases to later surrender a go-ahead grand slam to Lake Monsters catcher Ethan Anderson (University of Virginia).
That was the major blow to Pittsfield as it took the wind out of their sails so to speak. The group effort of the Vermont bullpen led by Ian Parent (Endicott College) (5 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 5 K) helped to lock this game up for them. The Suns were limited to just 1 additional run on 3 hits from the 3rd inning on.
Vermont is on an amazing streak right now and 10 straight wins can completely change a team’s mentality and season around for the better. Let’s see how long this can continue going forward for the new Futures League members.
Westfield Starfires 8, Norwich Sea Unicorns 4
Thursday’s action concluded at Dodd Stadium between the Westfield Starfires and Norwich Sea Unicorns. Coming off a rough 8th inning in Vermont on Wednesday that cost them the game, the Starfires rebounded nicely with a good balance of hitting and pitching to lock up the road victory.
Dougie DeLaCruz (Mitchell College) was yet again an important piece of this victory on offense and is the player of the game for the Starfires. After recording a 2 RBI triple on Wednesday against Vermont, he followed that up with a bases-clearing 3 RBI double last night.
Despite only going 1-4 with a strikeout, this one play made a difference as it gave Westfield a 4-0 advantage at the time, a lead that they held onto for the rest of the game. These first nights out of the break have been very welcomed as DeLaCruz has struggled to get his game going this season. He played in just 8 games during the first half and averaged .127 with 1 home run and 2 RBIs.
Westfield scored two runs in both the 6th and 7th innings off a pair of RBI singles to extend their lead to as much as 8-0. Norwich attempted a late rally, scoring 2 runs in the 7th and even loaded the bases with 2 outs in the 9th down by a score of 8-4, but they ended up falling short.
Reliever Andrew Roman (Salve Regina University) entered to record the final out of the game for Westfield as Norwich home run derby participant Tremayne Cobb (University of Hartford) came in to pinch hit and struck out swinging to make this one final.
The offensive success was backed up by starting pitcher Ryan Shea (Stevens College), who had a really nice night on the mound for Westfield (5 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 4 BB, 7 K). He improves to 2-0 with a 4.65 ERA. The offense has backed him up as the Starfires average 6.8 runs per game and are 4-4 when he is on the mound.
FCBL Nightly Awards:
Player Of The Night: LF #24 Jackson Linn, Nashua (5-5, 3 R, 4 RBI) (Tulane)
Pitcher Of The Night: #38 Ian Parent, Vermont (WIN, 5 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 5 K) (Endicott)
Friday, July 16
Worcester Bravehearts (20-18) AT Nashua Silver Knights (12-24) 6:00PM
Brockton Rox (21-14) AT Westfield Starfires (17-19) 6:30PM
New Britain Bees (18-20) AT Norwich Sea Unicorns (18-20) 7:00PM
Pittsfield Suns (21-16) AT Vermont Lake Monsters (22-18) 7:05PM
**ALL games streaming on fcblnetwork.com AND the FCBL Network app**