NWHL, Team Russia to Face Off For Second Year in a Row

11 Jul

NWHL Russia Summit SeriesThe National Women’s Hockey League and Team Russia will once again face off in exhibition games when the Russian’s travel to the United States as part of their preparation for the 2018 Winter Olympics.  The NWHL/Team Russia Summit Series will take place between October 11 and 23, when team is in the United States for games and training.

Russia will play two pre-season games each against the Boston Pride, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters.  Last season, Russia played five games in the United States, which included one against the Pride, in which Boston triumphed at the Warrior Ice Arena.  The two games between the Pride and Team Russia will likely take place once again at the Warrior Ice Arena.  Last year, Russia played a five-game series against NWHL teams, and the NWHL teams won three of those games.  The schedule of games will be released later this summer, with ticket information to be published when it becomes available.

North Adams to Host NECBL All-Star Game

10 Jul

2017 NECBL All Star GameThe New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game will be returning to Massachusetts for the first time since 2014, when Holyoke hosted.  This time the game will be heading to Berkshires and will be hosted at Joe Wolfe Field in North Adams.  The league’s 13 teams will be divided up by division (Northern and Southern) and will be coached by the manager’s whose team’s lead those divisions.  After the team’s are announced, fans will be able to vote in one player per division to be added to the team roster, called the All-Star Game Fan Vote.

The day in North Adams will begin early in the morning and continue into the late evening.  The league will host an MLB Talent Showcase, which will begin at 9:45 AM and be completed by 11:30 AM.  The showcase will feature a Pitching Prospect Showcase (15 pitches per pitcher), a Hitting Prospect Showcase (4 rounds per hitter, 7 pitches per round), Catcher Pop and Throw (5 throws to second base) and Outfield Arm (3 rounds of 2 throws from CF to Home Plate).  This is following by an All-Star Brunch at 11:45 and then batting and fielding practice for each time, which will run until 3:15 PM.  At 3:15, a 60-Yard Dash will be conducted and at 3:30 the Home Run Derby will take place.  In the Derby, each contestant will get 3 minutes to hit, with the top 4 contestants making it to the final round.  Field prep for the game will go from 4:50-5:10 and pre-game ceremonies will follow and lead up to first pitch.Joe Wolfe Field

The game will be played at the home of the North Adams SteepleCats, Joe Wolfe Field which is located at 310 State Street in North Adams.  The stadium last hosted the All-Star Game in 2007, when 4,000 fans came out to watch the Southern Division defeat the Northern Division 8-0.  The stadium has a bleacher seating that holds about 1,800 while most fans will bring chairs and line them up down the foul lines, so be sure to arrive at the field early

Gillette Stadium to Host Italian Soccer Power’s

10 Jul

juventus_romaThe International Champions Cup presented by Heineken will see the final United States match take place at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on July 30.  Five-time defending Serie A champions Juventus FC will take on AS Roma in a clash of Italian powerhouses.  It will be the final match of the 12-match showcase across the United States, featuring eight teams from England, Italy, France and Spain.  At the end of the tournament, each team will have played three matches and the team will the highest point total will be crowned champion.

AS Roma will be celebrating it’s 90th year of its founding in 2017.  The club has won the Serie A title three times, with the most recent championship coming in the 2000-01 season.  The club’s current captain, Francesco Totti, is also their all-time leading goal scorer.  They will face off against fellow Serie A rival in Juventus FC, who was founded 110 years ago this November.  Juventus has won the Serie A title a record 34 times, including the last five seasons to be contested.  Their roster is loaded with notable players, including Gianlugi Buffon, who has made 612 appearances for the club.

The game will kick-off on Sunday, July 30 and air on both ESPN and ESPNDeportes.  Tickets can be bought by visiting the International Champions Cup website.  Information about Gillette Stadium can be found on the venue’s website, including parking, security, clear bag policy and ADA information.

Cape Cod Baseball All-Star Weekend Will Be Filled With Activities

10 Jul

Cape Cod Baseball All-Star WeekendThe Cape Cod Baseball League will host its annual All-Star Game on July 22, which will be preceded the night before by the first ever Celebrity Softball Game that the league has ever hosted.  The CCBL has partnered with Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital/Cape Cod, and tickets sold for the weekend will benefit the only hospital on Cape Cod that provides hospital level rehab care.  Varitek

The weekend will kick off with the Celebrity Softball Game, which will begin on July 21 at 6:00.  The game will feature a variety of recognizable names, including: former Red Sox players Bill Lee, Jose Santiago and Jason Varitek, former Olympian Nancy Kerrigan, former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak and 96.9 radio host Ramiro.    The game will take place at McKeon Park in Hyannis, and will be preceded by a Pre-Game Kids Clinic.  The clinic will begin at 4:00 and cost $25 for children aged 12 and under to participate.  It will last for one hour with participants learning baseball skills from professionals and participating in kid-friendly contests.  All participants will receive a t-shirt and admission to the All-Star Weekend.  An After Party will take place following the softball game at Cape Cod Maritime Museum.  The party will begin at 8:00, with tickets costing $50 to attend.  Attendees will get the chance to meet many of the celebrities who participated in the game.Print

The following day after the softball game, the 2017 Friendly’s Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game will take place at Spillane Field in Wareham.  Tickets to attend this game are purchased as a package that includes the softball game as well.  Gates will open in Wareham at 2:00, when a Home Run Hitting Contest and an autograph session with the players will take place.  The All-Star Game’s first pitch is scheduled for 6:00 and will be broadcast on Fox College Sports, and can be heard on WCAI National Public Radio, 90.1, 91.1 and 94.3.

Massachusetts Summer Baseball Rages On

10 Jul

Lowell Spinners

The first step for young prospects on the road to Fenway Park is at Lelacheur Park with the Lowell Spinners.  The team began play in the New York-Penn League back on June 19, and will play a short season with 76 games this summer.  The first recently completed their 19th game, putting them 1/4 of the way through their season.  The Spinners sit at 9-10 on the season so far, putting themselves into a tie for second place in the Stedler Division, 4 games behind the division leader, the Vermont Lake Monsters.  In the Wild Card Race, the Spinners currently sit 2.5 GB the Aberdeen Ironbirds.Raiwinson Lameda

The ball club has seen some impressive stat performances so far, lending hope that the Red Sox success will continue for many years to come.  Top prospect Jay Groome made three starts for the Spinners, registering 14 strikeouts with an ERA of 1.64 and a WHIP of 0.91 before being promoted to the Greenville Drive.  Brian Johnson made one rehab start for Lowell, after being placed on the DL following four starts for the Red Sox.  The best pitcher for the team so far this season has been Dakota Smith, who has compiled a 2-1 record in four starts, striking out 17 with a 2.18 ERA.  Hitters for the Spinners has varied, as many players have been bouncing around the Red Sox farm system.  Raiwinson Lameda has been the most consistent for the Spinners so far, playing in 18 of 19 games while batting .284 with 1 home run and 11 RBI.

The Spinners will on the road this entire week, but return to Lelacheur Park next week for a series against Aberdeen from July 17-19 followed by a visit from Tri-City from July 20-22.  Head to the Spinners website to purchase tickets for these games.

Cape Cod Baseball League

The Cape League has reached the mid-season mark of the summer.  The league has seen incredibly competitive play so far and has found itself with tight playoff races in both divisions.  At 30 points, the Orleans Firebirds lead the East Division with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox and Brewster Whitecaps close behind at 25 points.  The Chatham Angelers sit at 20 points during coach John Schiffner’s final season, while the Harwich Mariners round out the division with 15 points on the season so far.  In the West, the Cotuit Keetleers lead the division with 28 points at the mid-way point of the season.  They are closely followed by the Bourne Braves (24 points), Falmouth Commodores (23 points) and Wareham Gateman (21 points).  The Hyannis Harbor Hawks round out the division with 19 points on the season.Marty Bechina

As is expected, the league has seen some impressive stat outputs this season as players look to impress MLB scouts that attend many of the games.  The best hitter in the league has been Marty Bechina (Michigan State), who plays for Falmouth.  In 22 games for the Commodores, Bechina is hitting at a clip of .304 while leading the league in home runs (7) and RBI (21).  Right behind Bechina has been Griffin Conine (Duke) of Cotuit, who is hitting .345 with 5 home runs and 20 RBI, just behind Bechina in power hitting categories.  Justin Montgomery (Cal Baptist), continues to be on a tear on the mound, throwing 21 scoreless innings to start his season with a 3-0 record for Wareham.  Montgomery has 24 strikeouts to only 6 walks, and has a WHIP of 0.90.  Zane Collins (Wright State) has also stood out this season, with a 0.96 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 18.1 innings, compiling a record of 3-1 for Cotuit.  On July 3, Collins throw a complete game shutout for the Keetleers over Wareham.

Two games can be seen on Fox College Sports this upcoming week.  On July 12, Cotuit will visit Hyannis for a 6:00 first pitch, while the next night July 13, fans can watch Bourne face off against Yarmouth-Dennis at 5:00.  On July 16, Sunday Night Baseball on WEEI will feature Yarmouth-Dennis taking on Falmouth for a 6:00 first pitch.  In less than two weeks, one of the most exciting weekend’s of the season will commence in the Spaulding Rehab Hospital/Cape Cod’s All-Star Weekend.  It will begin with the first ever Celebrity Softball Game on July 21 at McKeon Park in Hyannis, with appearances from Bill Lee, Jose Santiago, Jason Varitek, Nancy Kerrigan and Scott Zolak.  The next day will feature the Friendly’s Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game at Spillane Field in Wareham.  The following Monday, July 24, all league players will travel to Fenway Park to work out for all 30 MLB teams as well as the MLB Scouting Bureau.

Future’s Collegiate Baseball League

The FCBL has also just passed the mid-way point of their season, with playoff races heating up throughout the league.  In the West Division, the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs are narrowly holding on to lead at the top of the division with 36 points on the season.  The Bristol Blues are right behind them at 34 points.  Massachusetts rivals the Pittsfield Suns (33 points) and Worcester Bravehearts (29 points) follow closely behind.  In the East Division, the Brockton Rox lead the division with 36 points to tie them with the Dirt Dawgs for most points in the league.  The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks trail them with 31 points on the season, and despite only having 23 points on the season, the North Shore Navigators have recently been on an up-swing, winning 11 of their last 18.Joseph Caico

Joseph Caico (University of New Haven) continues to dominate in the batter’s box for Worcester.  In 31 games played, Caico leads the league in home runs (9) and RBI (31), while maintaining a batting average of .310.  Zach Tower (Franklin Pierce) has also shown incredible power for Wachusett, blasting 9 home runs with 23 RBI while batting .333.  Billy Devito (University of Hartford) has been one of the best pitcher’s of the season while playing for the Bravehearts.  Devito has started five games and leads the league in ERA at 1.17 while compiling a 2-0 record with 35 strikeouts over 30.2 innings pitched.  Zach Martin (Notre Dame), currently leads the league in strikeouts with 41 on the season, with a 3-2 record and a 1.70 ERA for the first place Brockton Rox.USA-v.s.-JAPAN

This week, the FCBL will be hosting a series of baseball games throughout Massachusetts between the United States and Japanese collegiate baseball teams.  The games will run from July 11-15 and be played in Worcester, Brockton and Lowell.  The teams will stay at Worcester State University during their team in Massachusetts.  The league all-star game will take place July 18 in Bristol, Connecticut.

New England Collegiate Baseball League

Well into the second half of the season, playoff races are in full swing as team’s charge towards August.  With only the top three team’s in each division making the postseason, each game as the season winds down will become crucial.  In the Northern Division, the Valley Blue Sox currently comfortably in second place, with a 15-8 record on the season and only 0.5 games behind first place.  Their Western Massachusetts counterparts, the North Adams SteepleCats are 11-14 on the season and only 0.5 games out of third place, putting them in great position to make a run at the playoffs.  In the Southern Division, the Plymouth Pilgrims (12-12) and New Bedford Bay Sox (10-14) find themselves on the outside looking in, currently 1 and 3 games behind third place, respectively.

Blake Whitney

Blake Whitney (South Carolina Upstate) has been an absolutely dominant for North Adams.  Despite being 1-3 on the season, Whitney leads the league in strikeouts with 62, while the next closest pitcher has 31.  Whitney has a 2.18 ERA in 37 innings pitched over 6 starts for the SteepleCats.  His teammate, Robert Donnelly (SUNY Oswego) is tied for the league in wins, with a 4-2 record.  Bay Sox outfielder/first baseman Luke Bakula (Kansas) is still near the top of the league’s batting average leaders with a .367 average through 23 games.  His teammate, Dan Schock (Sacred Heart) is currently tied for 2nd in the NECBL with 20 RBI through 23 games.  2017 NECBL All Star Game

North Adams will be hosted the 2017 NECBL All-Star Game, which will take place on July 30.  It will feature a day full of festivities with includes an MLB Talent Showcase and a Home Run Derby leading up to the game.  The game will be held at Joe Wolfe Field, where the record attendance for a game is 6,714, so be sure to purchase tickets as soon as possible.

US-Japan Collegiate Baseball Games Fast Approaching

6 Jul

USA-v.s.-JAPANAnnounced back in late May, the 41st series between the United States and Japanese collegiate baseball teams is fast approaching.  A total of five games will be played across New England with the first three taking place in Massachusetts.  Three games between the USA and Japan will take place in Massachusetts, with the third being a match-up between the United States and Future’s Collegiate Baseball League’s Prospect Team.  The teams will play games at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field in Worcester, Campanelli Stadium in Brockton and Lelacheur Park in Lowell.  The series is sponsored by the Future’s Collegiate Baseball League, with the team’s staying and training at Worcester State University.  The games played in Massachusetts will occur from July 11 through July 15:

July 11: United States vs. FCBL Prospect Team, 7:05, Worcester. TICKETS.

July 13: United States vs. Japan, 7:05, Worcester. TICKETS.

July 14: United States vs. Japan, 7:00, Brockton. TICKETS.

July 15: United States vs. Japan, 5:35, Lowell.  TICKETS.

Tickets for the two games in Worcester start at $5, while the game in Brockton has seats as low as $11 and seats in Lowell range from $7-10.  Campanelli Stadium can hold almost 6,000 fans, while Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field holds about 3,000, and Lelacheur Park about 5,000, so be sure to purchase tickets as soon as possible.

Team USA will feature players from across the country and will be led by UCLA manager John Savage.  Savage has had a legendary career at UCLA, becoming one of only six coaches in college baseball history to win a College World Series title, coach a #1 overall draft pick and have a Golden Spikes Award Winner.  His assistant coaches come from baseball powerhouses in Long Beach State, Cal Poly, Florida State and Cal State Fullerton.  The roster consists entirely on those who just finished their freshman or sophomore seasons in college.  Fans will have the opportunity to see some local talent, as UConn’s Tim Cate will be a pitcher on the US squad, hailing from Manchester, Connecticut.  Cate has a 3.02 career ERA at UConn and also participated on this squad last summer.  The Japanese squad will be led by manager Tatsuya Yoshinami, who will bring a talented roster to New England.  These will be some of the final games of the summer for the US Collegiate National Team, who is 11-1 so far this summer.


Summer Collegiate Baseball Update

26 Jun

Cape Cod Baseball League

Looking for their fourth CCBL championship in a row, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox are off to a strong start through the first two weeks of the season.  Through 11 games on the Y-D Red Soxseason, Y-D has started off 7-3-1 and leads the East Division with 15 points.  They lead the league in run differential (+14) and are third in the league in ERA with a mark of 3.22.  Their offense is led is Carlos Cortes (South Carolina) who is near the top of the league in batting average with a mark of .400 while playing in every game so far this season.  The Red Sox best pitcher so far this season has been Kris Bubic (Stanford), who has a 2-0 record with 1.39 ERA and 13 strikeouts through his first two starts.  The Red Sox have a busy week ahead, including a doubleheader on June 29 against the Bourne Braves, who are currently in first-place in the West Division.

Many players have stood out through the first two weeks of the season, putting up impressive numbers.  Perhaps the most notable is Wareham pitcher Justin Montgomery (Cal Baptist), who has yet to surrender a run through 12 innings of work while compiling a 2-0 record with 14 strikeouts.  Hyannis pitcher Michael Brettell (Central Michigan) has been nearly just as good, with a 0.73 ERA with a 3-0 record through 12.1 innings pitched on the season so far.  At the plate, Hyannis’s Reece Hampton (UNC-Charlotte) leads the league with 21 hits and currently has a batting average near the top of the league at .420.  Marty Bechina (Michigan State) has been the league’s best power hitter while playing for Falmouth.  Through 13 games played, Bechina leads the league in home runs (4) and RBI (15) while batting at a clip of .304.Marty Bechina

While the Y-D-Bourne doubleheader is likely the biggest games of the week, fans can hear a game on the radio this coming Sunday night and soon after Fox College Sports will begin broadcasting.  On July 2 at 5:30, WEEI 96.3 FM on the Cape and Islands will hear the Chatham at Harwich match-up in Cape League Sunday Night Baseball.  Just two days later, Fox College Sports will begin their TV coverage of the CCBL, with the first broadcast taking place on July 4 at 7:00 when Chatman visits Orleans.  Fans will not have to wait much longer, as on July 5 at 5:00 they can watch the match-up between Harwich and Brewster.

Future’s Collegiate Baseball League

Through three weeks of play in the FCBL, teams are approaching the mid-way point of the season and are beginning to separate themselves in the standings.  Massachusetts squads continue to see great success, with teams at the top of both the West and East divisions.  The Wachusett Dirt Dawgs have climbed to the top of the West with 26 points and the Brockton Rox to the top of the East with 24 points.  In the West, the Pittsfield Suns (21 points) and the Worcester Bravehearts closely trail the Dirt Dawgs for first place.  Over in the East, the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks sit at 19 points while the North Shore Navigators continue to struggle with only 13 points on the season.

On June 25, Doyle Field in Leominster saw one of the most exciting games of the season, when the Dirt Dawgs defeated the Bravehearts 16-14 in one of the more exciting baseball IFgames one will ever see.  The game saw 30 total runs, 39 hits, 8 home runs and 8 stolen bases.  The Dirt Dawgs jumped out to an early 8-0 lead after 3 innings, but the Bravehearts battled back and took a 14-12 lead during the 7th inning.  The Dirt Dawgs scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th to capture the game and maintain their grasp on first place.  During the game, Bravehearts Joseph Caico (New Haven) hit his 7th home run of the season to maintain his grasp on the league lead in home runs.

On the season so far, Rox pitcher Zack Martin (Notre Dame) has been mowing down batters and has arguably the best pitcher in the league to this point in the season.  Martin leads the league in both ERA (0.89) and strikeouts (32) in five appearances and 20.1 innings pitched with a 3-0 record that is tied for the league lead.  Martin’s Rox will host the Nashua Silver Knights on June 27 at 6:35, in a battle of the two top teams in the East division.  The first-place Dirt Dawgs will have a busy week as well, which includes a visit to the Silver Knights on June 29.  The highly anticipated rematch between the Dirt Dawgs and Bravehearts will take place on July 4 at 1:05 in Worcester.

New England Collegiate Baseball League

As the NECBL season continues along, the Valley Blue Sox have established themselves as one of the top teams in the league.  Winners of nine of their last ten, the Blue Sox sit at 10-4 on the season at the top of the Northern Division.  The team has been very balanced so far this season and not dependent on the performances of individual players.  Andrew Rouse (Marist) is the only player near the top of any statistical categories for the Blue Sox, with a batting average of .375.  In the Northern Division, the other Bay State team in the North Adams SteepleCats has stumbled after a hot start and currently at 6-7, 3.5 games behind the Blue Sox.  In the Southern Division, everyone is looking up at the Ocean State Waves, who lead the division with a record of 10-1.  The New Bedford Bay Sox sit in second place in the division, with a 7-6 record and 4 games behind, while the Plymouth Pilgrims are 5 games behind with a record of 7-8.Blake Whitney

The NECBL will give out an award for the Player and Pitcher of the Week every Monday.  Bay State teams continue to dominant the weekly award, as one player from each Massachusetts team has won the award so far.  This past week it was Bay Sox shortshop Connor Joyce (North Carolina Central) and SteepleCats pitcher Blake Whitney (South Carolina Upstate) who earned the honors.  During the past week Joyce went 11-19 with six RBI, four runs scored, five doubles and one stolen base.  Whitney tossed a gem for North Adams back on June 20, when he threw seven innings of one-run ball while striking out 11 in a 4-1 win over Vermont.

The budding rivalry between the Pilgrims and Bay Sox will continue on June 27 when the Pilgrims head to New Bedford for a match-up between Southern division foes.  Later in the week, the Pilgrims will head to the Berkshires for a match-up with the SteepleCats, to take place on July 1 at 6:30.  On July 2, the Bay Sox will host the first-place Ocean State Waves with the goal of catching up with them in the standings after the Waves super fast start.  The first place Blue Sox have a busy week ahead of them that including trips to Newport, RI and Keene, NH as well as hosting a doubleheader on June 29.

For the first time in its league history, over 100 NECBL alumni where selected the 2017 MLB Draft.

Massachusetts Amateur Baseball Update

20 Jun

Cape Cod Baseball League

On June 12, 10 former CCBL players where drafted in the first round of the the 2017 MLB Entry Draft and just two days the new season kicked off with five games across the Cape.  Through one week of play, the Chatham Anglers lead the East Division while the Cotuit Keetleers lead the West Division, each team with a record of 4-1.  Looking for their fourth title in a row, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox had started out the season strong at 3-1.  Over the course of the next six days, each league squad is scheduled to play seven games, and the standings are likely to shift greatly as the season chugs along.

Every week the CCBL will award one pitcher and one position player with the Coca Cola Pitcher/Player of the Week.  After Week #1, Pitcher of the Week was given to Connor Higgins (Arizona State) of the Brewster Whitecaps after he threw five innings of two-hit ball in a June 14 win against Orleans.  Player of the Game was given to Nick Patten Nick Patton Chatham 2017(Delaware) of Chatham who has been tearing it up so far for the Anglers, batting .538 with two home runs, five RBI’s and five runs scored.  Marty Bechina (Michigan State) has arguably had the most explosive bat to this point in the season, hitting .333 with three home runs, seven RBI’s and six runs scored while playing for Falmouth.  While many pitchers have yet to allow an earned run, Joey Matulovich (Cal) has thrown nine innings over two games so far for Wareham.


The game to watch this week will be Thursday night the 22nd at 5:00, when first-place Cotuit travels to play the three-time defending champion Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.  The June 25 matchup between Chatham and Hyannis will have a first-pitch time of 5:30 and can be heard on WEEI 96.3 FM in the Cape and Islands.

Future’s Collegiate Baseball League

After starting out the season on an absolute tear, the Pittsfield Suns have encountered a long losing streak and fallen back to 8-8 on the season, but have maintained their spot in first place in the West Division.  At 16 points they hold a two-point lead over the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs and Worcester Bravehearts, who each sit at 14 points on the season.  In the East Division, the Brockton Rox have won 8 of their last 10 games and surged ahead to first place with 18 points on the season.  The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks are right behind the Rox with 17 points so far this season, while the North Shore Navigators continue to struggle, with only five points on the season so far.

Teams from Massachusetts continue to see their players near the top of the league’s statistical categories, both in batting and pitching categories.  Kyle Simon (Palm Beach Kyle Simon RoxAtlantic) has been on a tear for the Rox, batting .500 with 19 RBI and 11 runs scored through his first 11 games of the season.  Teammate Chris Berry (North Florida) is right behind him, coming in at third in the league with an average of .405.  The best pitcher of season thus far has been has also been pitching for Brockton in Zach Martin (Notre Dame).  Martin has compiled a 3-0 record while coming into a game in relief three times for the Rox, having not allowed a run in 13 innings.  Billy Devito (Hartford) has been the next best pitcher in Massachusetts, with a 2-0 record and 0.50 ERA after 18 innings for the Bravehearts.  Joseph Caico of the Bravehearts (New Haven) lead the FCBL in home runs, with five on the season while knocking in 16 RBI’s as well.

On June 20 at 6:35, the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks will travel to Brockton to take on the Rox in a matchup that will determine first place in the East Division.  At the same time the Pittsfield Suns will host the Bristol Blues with the hopes of snapping their losing streak and maintaining a hold on first place in the West Division.  The Bravehearts and Rox will face off in a double-header on June 22 that could turn the standings depending on the results.  On June 25 at 4:30, the Bravehearts will face off against the Dirt Dawgs in a game important for positioning in the West Division.

New England Collegiate Baseball League

After a 4-1 start, the North Adams SteepleCats have suffered a four-game losing streak and fallen to 4th place in the Northern Division while their division counterparts in the Valley Blue Sox have won six in a row and taken second place in the in the Northern.  In the Southern Division, each of the Bay State’s team are sitting in second place with a winning percentage of .500, with the Plymouth Pilgrims at 5-5 and New Bedford Bay Sox at 4-4.  Overall, the four Massachusetts NECBL teams are at a combined record of above .500.

The four teams continue to see their players at the top of various statistical categories.  Andrew Rouse (Marist) is currently second in the league in batting average, hitting .444 Luke Bakulafor the Blue Sox.  Bay Sox player Luke Bakula (Kansas) is second in the NECBL with 14 hits to this point in the season, while teammate Corey Joyce (North Carolina Central) leads the league with 11 runs scored.  Chas Hadden (Belmont) has walked an incredible 14 times through nine games for the Blue Sox.  Jonathan Bermudez (St. Leo) of the Pilgrims has throw 12 innings without allowing an earned run, while Bay Sox pitchers William Chillari (Duke) and Jacob Lamb (Richmond) have also yet to allow an earned run this season.  SteepleCats pitcher Blake Whitney (South Carolina Upstate) is second in the league with 18 strikeouts on the season.

This week will consist of some big games as the Bay State’s teams will look to properly position themselves in the standings.  On June 20 the Pilgrims will travel to New Bedford to take on the Bay Sox to break the second place tie in the Southern Division.  The two teams will then face off again at Paul Walsh Field on June 22.  The Bay Sox won the first meeting 6-0.  The Blue Sox will host the Upper Valley Nighthawks on June 22 @ 6:35 while they sit right behind the Nighthawks in second place in the Northern Division.  The very next night, the Blue Sox will host the SteepleCats in a budding rivalry between the Western Massachusetts squads.




Lowell Spinners Open Season June 19

15 Jun


On June 19, the Lowell Spinners will begin play in their 22nd season of existence, the 20th of which will be played at LeLacheur Park in Lowell.  The team will open the season on Monday the 19th against the Vermont Lake Monsters with a 6:35 first pitch.  The Spinners are coming off of a franchise-best 47 win season that ended in a Stedler Division Title and playoff appearance.  With many players from last season being promoted to a higher level of minor league ball, the fans will welcome a new crop of players hoping to make their impression on the Red Sox organization.

For the first time since moving to Lowell in 1996, the team saw a change in ownership occur last summer.  After nearly 20 years of running the team, Drew Weber sold the team Dave Hellerto new owner Dave Heller (Main Street Baseball Group), who assumed the responsibilities when last season began.  Heller owns four other minor league ball clubs across the country, according to the Lowell Sun, and has every intention of keeping the same promotions and fun family atmosphere at the games that Weber’s ownership oversaw for so many years.  Per an story in the Eagle Tribune, Heller plans to keep the team both in Lowell at LeLacheur Park and as a member of the Red Sox organization for years to come.

As a result of the new ownership group, the team also revealed a new logo and jerseys for the upcoming season.  The new branding for the team emphasizes the city of Lowell over the Spinners, hoping to show the connection with the city.  The team’s Canaligator mascot has also taken a big role on the logo and will be the same insignia on the team’s home hats.  The logo also shows the mills of the city of Lowell, which is a huge part of the history of the city.  According to Ballpark Digest, Heller said that he was excited to incorporate the city of Lowell into it’s logo and uniform to show how important the team is to the city and vice versa.Spinners Logo

After such a successful season last year, it is no surprise that many players were promoted to a higher level, as the Spinners participate in the New-York Penn League, a short single-A season.  After winning the NYPL batting title with a .332 average, Tyler Hill has been Tyler Hillpromoted to the Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League. Teammate Bobby Dalbec also begin 2017 in Greenville after winning Player of the Month last August after Hill won the award in July.  Roldani Baldwin, Carlos Tovar, Jhon Nunez, Ryan Scott and Nick Lovullo are among other notable players who have moved on to a new club in the Red Sox organization.

Notable players returning to Lowell for this season include Victor Acosta, Matt McLean, Nick Sciortino, Yoan Aybar and Enmanuel De Jesus.  As is the case with every season, a slew of new players will be joining the Spinners.   The most well-known player joining is Jay GroomeJay Groome, who has not pitched since injuring himself in a Greenville Drive game in April.  Groome was considered a top prospect for the 2016 MLB Entry Draft out of Barnegat HS in New Jersey, and the Red Sox drafted him 12th overall and signed him to a $3.65 million contract.  He was recently rated as the 41st best prospect in all of baseball and will be one of the most exciting players that fans in the Greater Merrimack Valley will see all season.

During the 2017 season, the Spinners home schedule is full of fun promotional nights in order to try and draw fans to the ballpark.  For the home opener on Monday night, they will be giving away magnetic schedule’s to all fans, as well as their first installment of “Military Monday”, when all military members can enter the game for $1.  Military Monday will occur every Monday, while every Tuesday will be “Taco Tuesday” with Taco’s sold at the ballpark and Sunday’s are “Kids Day” as well as “Peanut Free Game” for those with a peanut allergy.  Nearly every home game will have a promotion, while five of the Rick Porcello Bobbleheadhome games will have fireworks following the conclusion.  During the season, the team will continue its series of bobblehead giveaways, this season with giveaways for Rick Porcello, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley.

The Spinners have seen and continue to see numerous players make their way to MLB and make major impacts once they get there.  Current Red Sox players Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr, Brian Johnson, Deven Marrero, Christian Vazquez, Robby Scott and Sam Travis all played games at LeLacheur Park when their careers were getting started.  Former Sox players Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, Travis Shaw and Clay Buchholz all got their start in the organization with the Spinners, while 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein was a popular player for the Spinners back in 1997.  Nearly every season that the Spinners have played has seen a player who later goes to play in the major leagues.


SteepleCats top NECBL North Division after Week 1

12 Jun

SteepleCats Start Hot

Through six days of play in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, the teams from Massachusetts are making an early impression, most notably the team from North Adams. Coming off of a playoff appearance the SteepleCats have started the season strong and lead Robert Donnellythe Northern Division at 4-1, just ahead of the Vermont Mountaineers.  Robert Donnelly (SUNY-Oswego) has been dominant on the mound so far by not allowing a run through two games while beginning the season with a 2-0 record.  Brian Whitney (South Carolina Upstate) has also had a strong start for North Adams, striking out eight over six innings of work in a June 7 win over Sanford.  A balanced attack at the plate has been led by Dillon Paulson (Southern California), who is currently second in the league with a .545 batting average.  Liam Sabino (Pittsburgh) has only had three hits thus far but has made them count, compiling 6 RBI’s in his last two games played.  Tonight they host their Western Massachusetts rivals the Valley Blue Sox, who are off to a slow start this season at 1-3, their lone win on June 11 against Keene when Cooper Bradford (North Florida) threw six innings of one-run ball.

The Southern Division has seen both Massachusetts clubs, New Bedford Bay Sox and Plymouth Pilgrims, start their season’s with winning records.  The Bay Sox have been led by Luke Bakula (Kansas), who is near the top of the league with a .692 OBP and a .500 James Venutobatting average.  Off to a 2-1 start, the Bay Sox are tied with Danbury for second place in the Southern Division, behind the final undefeated team in the NECBL, the Ocean State Waves.  The Pilgrims are off to a 3-2 start, just slightly behind the Bay Sox in winning percentage and are led by slugger James Venuto (Elon), who leads the league with three home runs while driving in six runs as well.  Jonathan Bermudez (St. Leo College), threw six scoreless innings for the Pilgrims in a June 8 win over Newport.  New Bedford travels to Forges Field tonight to take on Plymouth.

Attendance Numbers

After leading the league in attendance last season, the Valley Blue Sox are off to another Blue Sox fansstrong start at third place in league attendance through one week after a 2,157 fans showed up on Opening Night.  North Adams has had 1,475 fans pass through their gates through their first three games.  Plymouth and New Bedford have seen slow starts at the gates but historic numbers show they will recover as the weather gets nicer.

Plymouth Pilgrims Welcome New Owner

In November, Wicked Local reported that Peter Plant had taken over as the new owner of the Plymouth Pilgrims after questions about the team’s future while the NECBL Plantssearched for a new owner.  Plant appointed his son Kevin, a former Pilgrims player, as the team’s new general manager, while manager Greg Zackrison will stay on with the team.  Also according to Wicked Local, on May 30, Peter attended the Plymouth selectmen’s meeting to update the board on his future plans for the team.  Plant has already donated five new picnic tables at Forges Field, and told the select board that he has future plans to renovate Forges Field.  Plant noted that he would like to add a two-story press box behind home plate as well as a permanent structure for storing equipment.  A new American flag is needed at Forges Field according to Plant, and Selectman Sheila Joyce offered to pay for a new one at the meeting attended by Plant.

Current Standings

Northern Division

1. North Adams SteepleCats: 4-1

2. Vermont Mountaineers: 3-1

3. Keene Swamp Bats: 2-3

4. Winnipesaukee Muskrats: 2-3

5. Sanford Mainers: 1-3

6. Valley Blue Sox: 1-3

Southern Division

1. Ocean State Waves: 3-0

2. New Bedford Bay Sox: 2-1

2. Danbury Westerners: 2-1

4. Plymouth Pilgrims: 3-2

5. Newport Gulls: 1-3

5. Mystic Schooners: 1-3

Games to Watch This Week

June 12: Valley @ North Adams, 6:30

June 12: New Bedford @ Plymouth, 6:30

June 13: Mystic @ New Bedford, 6:30

June 14: Winnipesaukee @ North Adams, 6:30

June 15: Newport @ New Bedford, 6:30

June 15: Sanford @ Valley, 6:35

June 16: Winnipesaukee @ Plymouth, 6:30

June 16: Mystic @ North Adams, 6:30

June 16: Ocean State @ Valley, 6:35

June 17: Valley @ New Bedford, 6:30

June 18: Newport @ Valley, 5:05