By Brian Johnson
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The Worcester Bravehearts of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) have successfully filled the summer void for Worcester baseball fans since the disbanding of the Worcester Tornadoes in 2012. In addition, the Worcester community has welcomed the Bravehearts as an opportunity to support many players from around the New England area.
The FCBL is an emerging collegiate league that began operation in 2010. The league is comprised of 10 teams from across New England with each team featuring 15-30 players with a local New England connection. For two Bravehearts, the connection is not only by geography, but by the fact that their summer team takes the same field their collegiate team calls home.
The Bravehearts signed a pair of Crusader juniors, Sean Gustin (Stoneham, Mass.) and Shane Sandoval (Westerly, R.I.) to play for the team this summer. Both Gustin and Sandoval have taken the responsibility to serve as ambassadors of collegiate baseball in Worcester in the inaugural season, as well as hosting New England players at Fitton Field. With so many collegiate leagues springing up across the nation, the decision for both Gustin and Sandoval to continue playing baseball in Worcester for the summer seemed to be the obvious choice to supplement their collegiate baseball.
Two major factors for both players was the comfortability of playing on Fitton Field and being around the Holy Cross campus. "In terms of deciding factors as to playing here in Worcester at Holy Cross for the summer, it was a no brainer for me as I was beyond excited to play at a place I call home," Sandoval said.
"I really enjoy being here at school, and to play on a field that I am so familiar with is just a bonus," Gustin added. "Additionally, living on campus, working out at the Hart Center and being in close proximity to home were factors I also considered when choosing to play here in Worcester."
In addition to the ease of staying in Worcester, they hope the opportunity will foster their growth as Holy Cross athletes. Playing on Fitton Field and staying in Worcester has allowed the two to emerge as unofficial hosts for the team. "Shane and I absolutely feel a responsibility to act as hosts for the other guys on our team," Gustin said. "Because Fitton Field is our 'home' and we have so many players from all different parts of the country away from theirs, Shane and I believe that we must make our teammates feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible, whether it be working out on the field or simply hanging out in the clubhouse."
For many Worcester residents, summer baseball has been a longtime tradition of watching the best players in the area, and the Bravehearts are responsible for bringing summer baseball back to Worcester. Gustin and Sandoval feel honored and humbled to be not only a part of the inaugural team, but also on the squad as Holy Cross representatives.
"Being a part of the inaugural season is a truly humbling experience, as we are able to be part of an organization and team that has brought summer baseball back to the city of Worcester," Sandoval said. "Playing in front of a fan base that is familiar with Sean and I as members of the Holy Cross community is an incredible experience as we feel we are playing not only for ourselves, the Bravehearts and Holy Cross, but also for the city of Worcester and its great community." Gustin and Sandoval are excited to continue the season as members of the Worcester Bravehearts.