Silver Knights win title
WORCESTER, Mass. – Somehow, some way, the Futures Collegiate Baseball League is colored silver for the third time in six years.
The Nashua Silver Knights jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and topped the Worcester Bravehearts, 8-5, on Friday to sweep the best-of-three FCBL Finals and win perhaps the most improbable title of their three, the first since 2012.
How did they do it? The Silver Knights’ pitching arms, for the most part, were dangling, and they faced elimination after losing Game 1 of the semis to Seacoast, and of course were one strike away from losing Game 1 of the finals.
"We were down to our last guy," Silver Knights manager B.J. Neverett said, as reliever Anthony Meduri labored through the ninth, walking in a run but retiring the game’s last two hitters on a pop up and strikeout. "Think of all the guys we lost (to injuries) and here we are."
Champions. Reliever Collin Duffley got the improbable start, and held Worcester to two runs over five innings, tossing 97 pitches – the most he’s thrown in two years when he was at Worcester Academy. Reliever
Justin Foley helped out for the second straight night, and Connor Gavin pitched out of an eighth inning jam.
"The fight on this team was unbelievable, like nothing I’d ever seen," Silver Knights catcher Anthony Fava said. "We just met each other two months ago and now we’re family."
Nashua started Game 2 quickly. Worcester starter Brady Furdon, who had beaten the Knights twice here this season, hit Harry Roberson with a pitch to start the game. One out later Merrimack native and FCBL MVP Mickey Gasper walked and with two outs Cam DiSarcina doubled up the right center gap to plate both for a 2-0 lead.
"It’s unbelievable," DiSarcina said, his team outhitting Worcester 14-13. "A lot of guys stepped up when we needed it."
"I think we’re something like 28-4 when we scored first," Neverett said. "I had a feeling."
The Silver Knights took advantage of a close call at first to keep another two-run inning alive in the second. It was ruled Worcester first baseman Greg Kocinski’s foot was off the bag on a close play on a Roberson grounder. Yanni Thanopoulos followed with a two-run double for a 4-0 Nashua lead, chasing Furdon.
However, reliever Kevin Stone fanned DiSarcina with the bases loaded to prevent the Knights from breaking it open.
However, the Bravehearts rallied in the third off Silver Knights starter Collin Duffley with Ryan Ward smacking a two-run double off the glove of a diving Sullivan at first down the line to make it 4-2.
Nashua, however, answered in the fourth thanks to two walks and a sac fly by Mickey Gasper to make it a 5-2 game. They tacked on another for a 6-2 lead in the sixth on a Sullivan RBI single off Worcester’s third pitcher, lefty Mason Feole.
However, Worcester’s John Foley brought his team to within 6-4 with a two-run homer just inside the right field foul pole, his second of the series, in the seventh.
However, Nashua’s third pitcher, Connor Gavin pitched his way out of a two-out, two on jam in the eighth and Nashua added two more in the ninth on Charlie McConnell and Harry Roberson RBI singles.
Meduri loaded the bases on a bunt single, walk and hitbatsman and walked in a run. But he got Kocinski to pop to Cam Cook and fanned Austin Lonestar with the bases loaded to give the Knights the 2016 title.