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Brave new world; Worcester captures home opener.

Byline: Bill Doyle

WORCESTER -- Neither the rain nor the Suns could keep the Worcester Bravehearts from winning their home opener in their inaugural season in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

After FCBL Commissioner Chris Hall and Bravehearts interns pumped out the rain water that had fallen in right field at Hanover Insurance Park, Worcester held off the Pittsfield Suns, 7-6, Thursday night.

The Bravehearts, who won their season opener at Torrington, 3-1, on Wednesday despite getting only two hits, improved to 2-0 before 1,109 fans.

"I guess it means a lot,'' Bravehearts manager Alex Trezza said. "For us, it's a long season, but it's a big thing for the city, it's a big thing for the Creedon family (which owns the team). They put so much time and effort into it and it's a big thing for the fans who came out and supported us. It was a little dicey weather-wise halfway through the day, but it turned out to be a great night.''

Leadoff hitter Andy Lack led Worcester with two doubles, a single and two walks. Mark DeYoung had a double and two singles. Aaron Doughty earned the win in relief and Charlie Butler of Marlboro picked up his second save.

Nick Nunziato was hit by a pitch to lead off the Worcester sixth and scored to break a 6-6 tie when Michael Valentine dropped T.J. Riccio's fly to left.

For Pittsfield, Zack Tower hit a solo home run, Luke Reynolds smacked a two-run double and Valentine stroked a pair of run-scoring singles.

Dylan Harris hit a sacrifice fly to right to put Worcester on top, 4-3, and drive Pittsfield starter Justin Finan from the game. Finan was 2-2 with a 5.24 earned run average as a freshman for the Holy Cross baseball team this spring.

Worcester boosted its lead to 6-3 later in the fifth. Darian Ramage scored after catcher Tad Martin threw the ball into center field while Lack stole second and DeYoung later hit a run-scoring single to right.

Reynolds clubbed a two-out, two-run double off to left-center off reliever Tyrone Miller to pull Pittsfield within 6-5 in the sixth. Doughty then relieved Miller and allowed Valentine's run-scoring single to left to tie the game.

Lack led off the first and third innings with doubles and Brenden O'Reilly drove him in both times.

"I'm more of a singles hitter,'' Lack said, "but that was my goal, to come out this summer and work on hitting into the gaps and work on hitting more doubles and driving the ball instead of just getting singles.''

Tower homered to center in the fourth and Valentine singled home a run in the fifth to knock out Worcester starter Andrew Bergmann. Miller walked cleanup hitter Jeff McGarry to force in the tying run, but fanned Tower to end the fifth.

Rain fell earlier in the day, but the sun popped out a few minutes before gametime. The game began at 7:30 p.m., 25 minutes later than scheduled while more water was cleared from the field.

In a pregame ceremony, City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. welcomed baseball back to Worcester, two years after the Worcester Tornadoes were evicted from the Can-Am League. Kevin Hunt, who won the contest to name the Bravehearts and received free season tickets for life, was among those who threw out ceremonial first pitches. Nelson Place Elementary School students sang the national anthem and the Harold N. Keith American Legion Post 204 from West Boylston presented the colors.

"It's a little surreal,'' Bravehearts owner John Creedon said, "but it's very exhilarating, very exciting. We couldn't be happier. We feel like this is an important project for the community. It was pouring rain all day and folks are coming out well in advance of first pitch here so I think the community is ready for baseball to be back in the city.''

"I'm truly excited,'' Hall said, "especially for the Creedon family. They worked so hard this offseason to try to get here.''

The Bravehearts will host the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs at 7:05 tonight at Hanover Insurance Park. Charter TV-3 is scheduled to televise the game.

Contact Bill Doyle


Follow him on Twitter @BillDoyle15.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Doyle, Bill
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 6, 2014
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