Saturday, June 25th was the first Summer Saturday of 2022 and greeted us here in Rhode Island with 80° plus temperatures and tons of sunshine. I checked my baseball calendar and found the Ocean State Waves (NECBL) had a home game vs the Mystic Schooners. Having successfully worked through my Saturday “To-Do” list, I took the drive down to Wakefield’s Old Mountain Field to catch the Waves and Schooners on Saturday night.
I was early to the game and had a chance to catch up with Head Coach Eric Hirschbein-Bodnar. Eric and I text most of the year so it is always great talking baseball with him. We chatted about the team, the season, and just how talented the entire New England Collegiate Baseball League is. Honestly, for as many games as I go to, I still marvel at the speed of the runners, the arms of the catchers, the sliders of the pitchers, and the walloping line drives of the hitters. If you get a chance to meet and talk baseball with Eric, serious do it!
I took a photo or two behind home plate as the team (Waves players) watered the field, raked the infield and base lines, and prepped the mound for the 6:30 First Pitch. Then, I made my way out to right field and sat out in one of the picnic tables and watched the starting pitchers for each team (Waves, Schooners) get their final preps, throwing some long toss in the outfields before heading into the bullpens pre-game. As I looked out into outfield, I saw a sponsorship banner covering just about every inch of the outfield fence. Great job by the Waves staff to get the community involved with the team, and great job by the community in supporting the Waves!
Here is the 2019 Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year, Tucker Flint (Bishop Hendricken) who started at first base for the Mystic Schooners. I last saw Flint playing in the Newport Collegiate Baseball League in 2020.
This guy gets better and better every time I see him play. Cumberland, URI Baseball standout Addison Kopack started at 2nd base and led off the game for the Mystic Schooners. This photo captures Addison’s scalding line drive to center in the 2nd inning.
Barrington native and soon to be UCONN Huskie Baseball’s Jake Studley started in Right Field and went 1 for 4 on the night with a double. Studley’s .286 leads the Waves roster in batting average.
Daniel Baruch, the Cranston native who plays at Boston College, is back with the Waves this summer and was in the lineup Saturday night. Saturday was just his 3rd game of the season and he contributed with 2 walks and 2 runs scored against the Schooners.
The crowd, similar to the Gulls vs Waves game a few weeks ago, filled the bleachers and stretched out into left and right field. Fans lining the hill facing the field in left, battled the sun for most of the first few innings. I saw a nice mix of baseball fans of all ages, lots of family members snapping photos, and was really psyched that so many came out to support the Waves and the Schooners.
A home run was hit by the Schooners Anthony Donofrio in the top half of the 4th inning, and I tracked it down and found it on the cart path behind the outfield fences. I picked it up and headed towards the “Host Family Hangout” section in right field. This Spring, I had met up with Leslie and Jen, who are the host family coordinators for the Waves. They both mentioned the right field area as a place where host families and friends of the Waves like to hang out. Sure enough, I ran into Leslie and Jen right there in right field. They spoke about all the great events that the host families have attended together this season, plus all the amazing community service work the Waves players have been doing in the community. It was great to chat with them, run into my nephew Finley, and see what the “Host Family Hangout” is such a cool place to watch a Waves game!
On my way to find a lucky fan for the home run baseball, I ran into Sports Editor for the Independent, Will Geoghegan. Will was enjoying a sandwich behind home plate and watching the game. We chatted for a bit about the NKHS state title run, his book “Summer Baseball Nation,” South Kingstown’s Ben Brutti, and the Waves of course. Will is a fountain of sports knowledge here in South County and I follow him on social media and love reading his articles in the Independent. Great guy and fantastic sports writer!!!
Fun game last night, I stayed until about the 5th inning or so, and loved running into some great people at the game. I tossed the home run baseball to a few kids at the concession stand on the way out, much to their delight! The weather was ideal for summer baseball with temperatures still in the 70s throughout the time I was there. Lots of sunshine, no wind to speak of, and no bugs!!! The play on the field is always spectacular, these players are so talented it is ridiculous. Great crowd again that packed the bleachers, left field hills, and into the “Host Family Hangout” area of right field. In the end, the Waves got the win at home over the Schooners, 6-2. Waves are back at it today vs Keene Swamp Bats at 4:30 right there at Old Mountain Field. AAAAAHHHH – Summer baseball, The Waves, and yes, another awesome Rhode Island Baseball Experience!