This is an exciting time of year for baseball here in Rhode Island. Little League® teams are preparing for playoffs, then district and friendship tournaments, perhaps a shot at playing in the Little League® World Series in Williamsport, PA. Rhode Island Middle and High Schools are just about finished with their seasons and RI State Champions will soon be crowned in a number of divisions. And the weather is finally cooperating so that fans of all ages can flock to our iconic baseball fields to enjoy games played from Tee Ball to the Pawtucket Red Sox.
The New England College Baseball League has two organizations based in Rhode Island – The Ocean State Waves (Old Mountain Field, Wakefield) and the Newport Gulls(Cardines Field, Newport). These local summer baseball league teams have some of the best collegiate baseball talent in the country playing for them. And last night, the Newport Gulls traveled to iconic Old Mountain Field to face their in state rival the Ocean State Waves. It was a gorgeous night weather wise to see a game, plus my son Harrison’s birthday was this past week, so we took the drive down Route 1 to Wakefield to take in the game.
First off, parking was a breeze. We found a spot in the parking lot next to the tennis courts about 20 minutes before game time. The lot did fill up as the game went on but this was such a great way to start the night. Second, admission to the game was $11 for myself and my two sons. What a bargain! There are few ticket stands located at Old Mountain Field so depending on where you park, you can access these ticket stands with ease. Third, a local sponsor – Lennon Insurance Agency – was Saturday’s featured game sponsor. Sean Lennon accompanied his son who threw out the first pitch. Fourth, a local South Kingstown Little League team accompanied the Waves players out to their positions on the field. Truly, a great memory for these kids to run out to the field with a potential Major League baseball prospect. And last, President and General Manager Matt Finlayson of the Ocean State Waves set up an on the field meet and greet with the starting pitcher for my son Harrison’s birthday. Harrison got to deliver the game ball to the starting pitcher for the Waves, Camrin Opp, who was nice enough to sign the ball as well. These subtle yet incredibly comforting aspects of an NECBL game are just a few reasons why this summer baseball league is so very special. Ease of parking, inexpensive night out for a family, recognizing and supporting local businesses, those personal touches that make baseball memories – and that is all before the first pitch is thrown.
The kids and I took a seat in the bleachers right behind home plate. After watching Little League®, Middle School, and High School games all season, it was incredible to see collegiate baseball players in action. The two starting pitchers – Camrin Opp of the Waves and David Stiehl of the Gulls – had electric fastballs, sharp breaking balls, and full command of the strike zone. The catchers – Michael Turner of the Waves and John Mazza of the Gulls – were brilliant behind the plate, blocking tough pitches in the dirt, throwing out would-be-basestealers, and communicating instructions to the defense. The NECBL is a wooden bat league and it was awesome to hear the CRACK of the bat, especially from right behind home plate. I love that sound. Fan friendly activities took place during each 1/2 inning break. And it was great to see President and GM Matt Finlayson walking around, greeting fans, greeting sponsors, talking to parents and kids. Again, these subtle yet impactful aspects of a summer baseball league game along with the incredible baseball players on the field make the NECBL so special and truly a must see event for any baseball fan here in Rhode Island. In the end, the Newport Gulls defeated the Ocean State Waves by a score of 5-1.
Special thanks to Matt Finlayson and the staff of the Ocean State Waves for the birthday shout-out and first game ball opportunity. Great job by the concession stands, the game announcer (this foul ball is sponsored by Lennon Insurance Agency, that was hilarious), the Waves staff on and off the field, and of course the players. Best of luck for your summer baseball league games both home (Old Mountain Field, Cardines Field) and on the road. I know my son will always remember where he was on his 13th birthday. At home, at a baseball field, being a part of an amazing baseball experience.
Ocean State Waves – www.oceanstatewaves.com
Newport Gulls – www.newportgulls.com
Lennon Insurance Agency – https://agency.nationwide.com/…