This past Friday night, the regular season of the Futures League came to an end. The top four teams then moved on to play win or go home baseball to determine who would play for the league championship this week. The overall number one seed is no surprise. The Vermont Lake Monsters, would finish the regular season with 40 wins, and by doing so become the first team in league history to reach that number. Their opponent was the Worcester Bravehearts who needed a win on the final night of the season to get in. Their win over Nashua in their home finale put them in the playoffs for the eighth straight year. Worcester has known playoff success since they have won the championship four times. The Bravehearts, like every other team in the league, had trouble with the Lake Monsters during the regular season dropping four of the seven regular-season meetings.
The other two that made the Futures League playoffs and had to face each other were Pittsfield and Brockton. Pittsfield earned the number two seed the hard way going to Vermont and winning back-to-back games to get home field. Brockton was on a bit of a role themselves having won four of their last five games to end the regular season. However, during the season it was the Suns who had the edge on the Rox winning six of the eight meetings the two teams played this summer.
As expected, the Lake Monsters had little problem with Worcester taking both games played over the weekend. On Saturday, Vermont had their hitting shoes on as they took the game by a 15-2 score at home. They would bang out 13 hits and have two six-run innings in the game. The big bat for Vermont belonged to their number nine hitter, shortstop Zach Landry, who had himself a four-for-five night with three runs scored. On the mound, Billy Oldham went the first five frames allowing four hits and one run to get the win.
Sunday’s game was a more closely contested game with the same results. Vermont showed they can win the close game on the road as well pulling out a 4-3 verdict to move on. The Lake Monsters jumped on the Bravehearts right off the bat with a three spot in the very first inning and never looked back. Patrick Harrington got the job done on the hill with six innings of seven-hit, two-run baseball. He also punched out eight Worcester hitters. Vermont, in their first year in the league, punched their ticket to the finals.
Pittsfield and Brockton will need three games to determine who will play Vermont for the championship. Brockton would strike first by taking the Saturday game by a 6-2 score. The Rox offense would come through late to win this game by scoring runs in the final three innings to get the victory. Brockton banged out eight hits, four of them for doubles. Juaron Watts-Brown got the win with six innings of five-hit, two earned runs pitching. He struck out seven and gave up four walks. The bullpen would get the job done with three innings of three-hit shutout ball.
Sunday night saw the road team win again. This time Pittsfield would come back from being down 4-0 after two innings to force a deciding game with a 6-5 comeback win. The win is even more impressive when you consider that the Suns defense was nowhere to be found. They committed six errors on the road but somehow found a way to get away with it. That is how Sunday night went for them. Kyle Roche got the win despite some shaky play behind him with five frames of four-hit, four-run, only one earned, ball. He did strike out seven Brockton hitters. His mates in the bullpen did their job by throwing four innings of three-hit baseball. At press time the win or go home game three was taking place between the two teams.
From here it’s on to the championship final. Where it would seem that Vermont has a bit of an advantage and home field. But as we all know, this is why you play the game.
Next week we will recap how this played out and the crowning of the Futures League Champion.