NASHUA, NH– With a tie score in the bottom of the eighth inning and runners on the corners, Worcester third baseman EJ Exposito (NYIT) stroked a RBI-single to left field to plate Nick Martin (Westfield State), giving the Bravehearts a 3-2 lead and ultimately the win to take Game One of the FCBL Championship series versus the Nashua Silver Knights.
Worcester is now one win away from its third consecutive FCBL title, and a championship victory tomorrow night would be the team’s league-leading fifth championship in seven seasons.
Worcester took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning but had remained scoreless the rest of the night until Exposito’s RBI-hit in the eighth to break the tie. Jakob Barker (Valdosta State) picked up the save in the ninth inning to preserve the 3-2 win for the Bravehearts, their seventh win versus the Silver Knights overall this summer.
The win was not handed to Barker in the ninth as Nashua put the tying run on third base with just one out. Ben Rounds singled to start the inning, and pinch runner Thomas Crowley stole second. Max Viera’s sacrifice bunt put Crowley on third, but a Lucas Stalman ground out with the infield in and a Troy Schreffler, Jr. strikeout ended the night to give Worcester the 1-0 series advantage.
Nashua made it a game in the seventh inning and tied the score when Kyle Bouchard hit a two-run blast to right field off of Worcester starter Cole Chudoba (Assumption). The homerun was Bouchard’s third in just nine games for the Silver Knights. The homer ended Chudoba’s outing after six-plus inning. The righty had pitched well up to that point and ended with six hits and two walks allowed, and six strikeouts.
Worcester forced Nashua to go to the bullpen early, knocking out starter Griffin Young after just three 1/3 inning. He allowed the two early runs (one earned), five hits, and two walks. Josh Roberge pitched two 2/3 scoreless innings, but Jack Palowski takes the loss by allowing the Exposito RBI-single. Carson Hauben (Rollins) and Shawn Babineau (Franklin Pierce) each pitched a scoreless relief inning for Worcester.
Martin had three hits, and Exposito and Matt Shaw (Maryland) had two hits apiece for the Bravehearts. Bouchard and Shreffler, Jr. tallied a multi-hit night for the Silver Knights.
Worcester tries to clinch the championship tomorrow night at six o’clock at Holman Stadium. Nashua, the two-seed, will be the home team with Worcester, the top-seed, as the acting “home team” Saturday night for Game Three if necessary.