Locals Will Dominate 2019 Bravehearts Roster
The Worcester Bravehearts will continue to pack their roster with local players in 2019. On Wednesday, they announced the additions of five position players and four pitchers from Central MA and Metrowest, including the first-ever Bravehearts from the towns of Holden and Leicester. All nine local players will join West Boylston's Mariano Ricciardi (Worcester Academy), whose signing was announced in December.
Holden residents Jack Gardner (Saint John's H.S.) and P.J. Barry (Saint Peter Marian H.S.) will join the Bravehearts after they complete their second college seasons this spring. Gardner is a sophomore teammate of Ricciardi at Cypress College in California while Barry is a redshirt freshman at Saint Leo in Florida. Gardner- a catcher - was an accomplished high school player for Saint John's, earning the Telegram and Gazette Player of the Year award and being named to the All-State Massachusetts team. He also won the Super 8 Championship his senior year. As a freshman at Cypress in 2018, Gardner made an immediate impact for the Chargers by playing in 37 games, batting .323 while driving in 21 runs. He is currently hitting .438 with 2 home runs in his spring season. Barry is an outfielder for the Saint Leo Lions and is hitting .235 in 13 games with nine starts. He was a three-year All-Conference honoree and two-year Central Massachusetts Super Team selection at Saint Peter Marian High School and finished his career with 108 hits, a .403 batting average and 53 stolen bases.
Catcher Craig Corliss (Hopkinton, MA / Worcester Academy) of Siena College and pitcher Jack Steele (Rochdale, MA / Worcester Academy) of UMass-Amherst will reunite at Hanover Insurance Park after winning a championship together at Worcester Academy. The two were integral pieces of the 2017 Central New England Prep School Baseball League Championship team under head coach Jim McNamara. Corliss, a sophomore, has played in 9 games on the young season at Siena and hit .396 at Worcester Academy in 2016, making both the Central Massachusetts All-Star and All-State teams. Freshman Jack Steele will be the first UMass player to don a Bravehearts uniform. He is 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA on the young season for the Minutemen, and he was named team MVP his senior year at Worcester Academy.
Shrewsbury's Nick Martin (Shrewsbury H.S.) will return to the field on which he won the 2017 American Legion Northeast Regional title with Shrewsbury Legion Post 397. Martin is now a sophomore catcher/utility player for Westfield State University, and he has begun the season red hot. Through four games, he has 11 hits in 19 at-bats (a .688 average) with two doubles, two triples, and eight runs scored. He transferred to Westfield St. after a season in Worcester at Quinsigamond Community College. He started all twenty-seven games for the Wyverns in 2018, hitting .364 with three home runs and 24 runs batted in. The speedy utility player scored 26 runs and stole 13 bases last season as well.
Milford's Aidan Wilde (Milford H.S.) will share the dugout with Martin - his former American Legion rival when he played for Milford Post 59. Wilde is in the midst of his freshman year at Stonehill College and is already hitting .333 while leading the team with 3 home runs and a .630 slugging percentage. The third-baseman also posted some eye-popping numbers in high school. He hit .476 in 235 total high school at-bats, including a senior year in which he finished with a .509 average and .645 on base percentage. Wilde is one of the very few players to actually hit a ball over the fence at Milford's Fino Field, a distance of over 400 feet. He'll be reunited with his high school coach Alex Dion, who will begin his first season as Manager of the Bravehearts on May 30th.
Three more local arms will boost the Bravehearts' pitching staff in 2019 with the additions of Shawn Babineau (Ashland, MA / Ashland H.S.), Matt Aronson (Leominster, MA / St. Bernard's H.S.), and Ethan Teixeira (Millbury, MA / Millbury H.S.).
Shawn Babineau is a junior at Springfield College and figures to be one of the veteran members of an otherwise young pitching staff. In 2018, Babineau was a leader of both the Springfield Pride's pitching staff as well as the Martha's Vineyard Sharks- a team that shared the Futures League championship with the Bravehearts last August. He was named the 2018 NEWMAC Baseball Pitcher of the Year after finishing his sophomore year with a record of 5-2 in eight starts and a minuscule 1.59 ERA. He had three complete games and allowed only seven walks the entire season. In his freshman campaign, the lefty also finished with a sub-2.00 ERA and a 2-2 record. With the Martha's Vineyard Sharks last summer, Babineau finished fifth in the league with a 3.53 ERA in 43 1/3 innings pitched. With the team's season on the line, he completely shut down the Brockton Rox in the playoffs by pitching 6 innings of no-run baseball in a 5-0 victory that propelled the Sharks to the Championship Series.
Matt Aronson is a true freshman at UMass-Lowell where he has already made three appearances out of the bullpen on the young season. At St. Bernard's, Aronson was named a conference All-Star as a junior where he posted a 1.82 ERA with 57 strikeouts. He was also a district finalist as a sophomore with a 2.40 ERA and threw a complete game shutout in his first playoff start.
Ethan Teixeira of Millbury will join the Bravehearts after his freshman season at American International College (AIC) in Springfield, where he expects to work in the starting rotation. He has already made one start on the season against Stonehill College, tossing 5 innings of three-hit ball in a no-decision. Prior to AIC, Ethan was part of some successful Millbury High School teams and played alongside Ryan Ward, a 2016 Braveheart who is now playing at Bryant University and has his eyes on the MLB draft this summer. Teixeira powered the Woolies to the district playoffs last spring with a complete-game three-hit shutout over Oxford in a 10-0 win. He received First Team All-SWCL honors as a senior and also played in the junior and senior Massachusetts All-Star game.
These nine local players will join the 12 returners announced just after Christmas on the 2019 Worcester Bravehearts when they open their season at home against the Nashua Silver Knights on May 30th. Season Tickets, 5-Game Plans, and Group Outings are now available by calling the Bravehearts box office at 508-438-3773. All single-game tickets go on sale April 20th.
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