Bravehearts turn to local talent

Another competitive baseball season is on the horizon, with the Worcester Bravehearts announcing their summer 2018 roster. The roster is full of returning local talent, along with five new pitchers from Central Massachusetts being signed.

After being defeated by the Nashua Silver Knights last season, the Worcester Bravehearts are back in full force. The Nashua Silver Knights won the Future Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) series last year against the Bravehearts, making it their second time winning the crown. Now, the Bravehearts are ready to reclaim the championship.

Brenden Cournoyer, of Dudley, one of the new signees, is a freshman at University of Albany. Cournoyer was the 2017 MVP at the Berkshire School in the Western New England Prep Baseball League, having a 1.87 ERA in 2015. He will be joined by Matt Stanks, of Douglas, from Bryant University and Sean Burke, of Sutton, who is graduating from St. John’s High School and will go on to play for University of Maryland in the fall.

Burke, a powerhouse pitcher for the St. John’s Pioneers, has a 93 mph fastball which he used to rack up 30 strikeouts over the course of 25 innings.

Nathan Florence, of Wilbraham, will also join the Bravehearts this summer. Florence is currently a sophomore at the University of Hartford and made 15 appearances and nine starts as a freshman. Florence earned his first victory against UMass Lowell, only giving up two hits over four innings.

“These guys are all from Worcester,” Bravehearts Director of Operations Kevin Hartigan said. “That’s important.”

Local star Danny Barlock, of Shrewsbury, will return to the Bravehearts this season, alongside teammates Kendall Pomeroy, of Shrewsbury, and Sebastian Gruszecki, of Dudley.

“I’m excited to be back with these guys. It’s always a good time out here,” Barlock said.

While the Futures Collegiate Baseball League requires leagues to carry at least 50 percent of players from the local area, for the Bravehearts, this is not difficult — the players are eager to rep their hometown.

“It’s pretty special because I have family and friends in the area…and it has a kind of hometown feel,” said Florence.

Florence is especially eager to continue to shine, but also to gain some knowledge from his new teammates.

“I’m a starter at Hartford, so I’d like to assume a starting role,” Florence said. “I want to make an impact and get some wins…but I’m also ready to learn from my teammates.”

The Bravehearts are supported by fans from Worcester and the greater Central Mass. area, so with a team full of local spirit, the fans are connected with the players on a personal level. The Bravehearts team also has a number of youth outreach programs to strengthen ties with the Worcester community such as the Reading Program and the Junior Bravehearts.

Barlock, who is excited to meet the new recruits, has a lot of faith in the quality of the recruiting team.

“Kevin Hartigan and the rest of the recruiting team does a good job at recruiting college players with good talent,” Barlock said. “Worcester has great talent.”

Barlock, playing for Holy Cross as a right-hand pitcher, was named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll. He is gearing up to switch over to the summer season.

“It’s nice to be close to home and be able to continue my success from spring into the summer,” Barlock said. “I’ve matured from playing at the collegiate level, on and off the field.”

The Bravehearts anticipate a strong, competitive season and hope to regain their title as league champions. The Worcester Bravehearts will kick off their fifth season on May 30 against the defending champions Nashua Silver Knights at Hanover Insurance Park. Get your tickets at

Kaiomi Inniss