It was a slugfest at the “Wahc” on Wednesday night, with the Worcester Bravehearts and Pittsfield Suns combining for a massive 32 hits. But, the Bravehearts got the better end of the game, heading back east with a 9-7 victory in a 12-inning nail biter.
Left fielder Matt Diesel led the offensive rampage for the Bravehearts. Diesel had four base hits in seven at-bats, plating three runs and scoring twice. He got Worcester on the board in the third inning, cranking a two-run homer beyond the right-field fence and off of the Bedard-land sign. Diesel’s no-doubter put the Bravehearts up 2-1 over the Suns.
As became the game's custom, the Suns would not set quietly. In the bottom of the same inning Pittsfield’s Eric Hamilton continued his successful 2016 batting campaign. Hamilton doubled to deep centerfield, scoring Devin McGrath and Thomas Hughes to retake the lead. The SUNY Oswego State first baseman has racked up a hit in every contest this season.
After scoring a run in the fifth inning to knot the game at 3-3, Worcester’s Matt Rothenberg came to the plate with two outs against the Suns’ Ryan Simpler. Rothenberg, a rising junior at Harvard University, hit a blooper to right field that dropped in for a two-RBI double. The visitors took a 5-3 advantage over the Suns.
Pittsfield emerged from the deficit, doing damage in the bottom half of the inning. The Suns plated runners on a fielder’s choice and a Trent Bryan single to tie the game, 5-5. With two outs in the inning and the bases loaded, Hamilton brought his hot-bat back to the plate. However, Worcester reliever Pat McGowan set him down on three strikes to silence the Suns’ threat.
Worcester and Pittsfield continued to exchange blows. Bravehearts shortstop Tom Walraven hit a two-run single past first base in the seventh inning, putting the visitors up 7-5. However, in the bottom of the eighth inning, Thomas Hughes came up big for Pittsfield. Hughes smacked a single to right field, scoring two runs to tie the game, 7-7. It was the highlight of Hughes’ 4-for-5 night. The shortstop, who was named Oklahoma’s top high school baseball player in 2015, currently holds a .340 batting average.
A walk-off win seemed to be in the conversation for the Suns in the bottom of the ninth inning. Worcester had other plans; with Pittsfield native Kevin Donati at third base with two outs in the inning, Trent Bryan looked at a called strike-three to send the game into extra innings.
Finally, Worcester put a nail in the coffin in the top of the 12th inning. Matt Diesel capped off his strong night with a go-ahead RBI single through the hole between shortstop and third base. The following at-bat, designated hitter John Friday laced a hit to left center, knocking in Diesel and putting the Bravehearts up for good, 9-7.
Taylor Williams picked up his first win of the season, hurling the last two innings of the game. Williams struck out two batters while giving up just a hit and a walk. University of Massachusetts’ Kevin Hassett was tagged with the loss. He hurled two-innings of two-run, two-hit ball, allowing the winning runs to score in the 12th frame.
The win keeps Worcester (8-3) in first place in the FCBL’s West Division. The Suns (6-6) dropped to third place in the standings, 2.5 games behind the Bravehearts.
The Suns will be back at historic Wahconah Park this Saturday to take on the Torrington Titans (4-8) in another West Division showdown. Game time is slated for 7:00 P.M.