The Bravehearts will play their 28th and 29th games of the season today, July 3, 2019. With 56 games in the regular season, that means that the first half of the season is just about complete. With that in mind, here are the highlights of the first half.
The Bravehearts started the season off in style, with four pitchers combining to throw a no-hitter on Opening Night against the Nashua Silver Knights in a 5-3 victory. Shawn Babineau went the first six innings, retiring the first 17 batters he faced before allowing a walk. This game was just the beginning of what has been an amazing season for Babineau.
The following week the team had their Baseball in Education days, where history was made. On June 5, the team played the Pittsfield Suns in front of a record crowd of 4,933 fans. The following day, that record was broken again, as 5,157 fans came to cheer on the Bravehearts. Not only did this break the record for highest attendance for an event at Hanover Insurance Park, those two days broke the Future’s Collegiate Baseball League record for highest attendance in consecutive games with 10,090 fans.
On July 1, the Braveheart made an improbable comeback in the second game of a double header against the North Shore Navigators. After scoring two runs in the 6th inning, the Bravehearts trailed 8-4 going into the 7th inning (this was a seven inning game due to the double header). Ben McNeill started the inning with a single. Mack Cheli followed with one of the at bats of the season, fouling off five pitches, before reaching base on an error on the 10th pitch of the at bat. After a fielders choice that advanced McNeill to third, Paul Coumoulos hit a double that scored one run. Riley Livingston came up next, and reached on an error that allowed another run to score. A single by Joseph Pesce made the score 8-7 Navigators. Nicholas Martin was up next, he worked the count full before hitting a single into center field, tying the game. Mariano Ricciardi grounded out to second, but Pesce scored on the play, making it 9-8 Bravehearts! The Bravehearts closer, Bryce Hellgeth, would come on in the bottom of the inning and secure the victory.
Here are five players that have stood out so far this season.
Shawn Babineau has been lights out on the mound. He has been the ace of the staff, and has arguably been the best pitcher in the entire league. In four games he is 4-0 with an ERA of 1.08 and opponents are batting a measly .137 against him. In 25 innings pitched he has 30 strikeouts, compared to just five walks. That first start where he went six hitless innings might have not even been his best start, because in his next start he struck out 10 hitters in seven shutout innings, only allowing two hits.
Angelo Baez started the season as the closer, but has since been turned into a starter. He has put up a staggering amount of strikeouts, with 29 Ks in just 17.1 innings. Since becoming a starter, he has faced 40 hitters, and struck out 19 of them. He has put together a record of 2-1 along with going 2/2 on saves. His ERA of 2.08 is good for third on the team, behind Babineau and Bryce Hellgeth.
Bryce Hellgeth has also been lights out on the mound. He actually didn't pitch much in the first two weeks of the season, as he was playing third base for the team. He hit .250 during that time and even hit a home run. When Baez became a starter, Hellgeth took over the closer role, and he hasn't looked back. He is 6/6 in save situations, and in those games, he has allowed just two hits, and has not allowed a run. Overall he has an ERA of 1.38 and is holding hitters to a batting average of .155.
Jakob Sessa has been a consistent presence in the heart of the Bravehearts order. His .333 batting average leads the team, and is good for seventh in the league. His 14 RBI’s also lead the team and is good for tenth in the league. He has 21 hits, a third of which have been for extra bases.
Mariano Ricciardi has been the perfect lead off hitter this season. He has an OBP (on base percentage) of .454 and a batting average of .305. These are good for 5th and 15th in the league respectively. Ricciardi has played in 24 games this year, and has reached base in 23 of them. He has a hit in 20 of those, and has reached base multiple times in 17 games. His 21 walks are more than double the amount of anyone else on the team, and good for second in the league.
Join the Bravehearts for their next game on July 4th at 1pm as they face the Nashua Silver Knights. For $10 fans will get a ticket to the game, as well as access to an All-American BBQ. For tickets click here.