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By Nick Lemley

For the past two weeks, I have spent my time going to and writing about the New England Collegiate Baseball League.  I have visited amazing baseball fields, watched some exciting games and learned about its players, notably players from Rhode Island.  Thursday night June 23rd, I decided to go to check out another summer collegiate baseball league here in New England, The Futures Collegiate Baseball League.   

The Futures League is another popular collegiate summer league here in New England that is focused on recruiting top collegiate baseball talent nationwide, as well as tapping into the local collegiate programs here in New England. It comprises nine teams spread throughout the New England area and was founded in 2011. Originally, the league was only made up of four teams. However, after a successful first season in 2011, The Futures League expanded and added five more teams. In the league’s 11 year time span, they have welcomed over 2 million fans across the New England area. 

So, I decided to take the drive to Willow Brook Park in New Britain, CT to watch The New Britain Bees vs The Westfield Starfires, who were tied for second in The Futures League at 13-10 going into the game. The New Britain Bees came into the game on a 4 game win streak hoping to make it 5. By the way, the Westfield Starfires and New Britain Bees are the most recent teams to be added to the Futures League. The Westfield Starfires joined The Futures League in 2019 replacing the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks. The New Britain Bees are the newest addition to The Futures League back in 2020 as a part of another expansion. Before joining The Futures League, The Bees were an independent professional baseball team that was a part of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball from 2016 to 2019.

The drive to the ballpark was about an hour from my home and upon arrival I got a good look at Willow Brook Park. It is also home to Veterans Memorial Stadium and Beehive Stadium which are both used by New Britain High School’s athletics. After getting my ticket, I went to the team store and bought a hat for a new collection I am starting and will get a team hat for each team I go to see play. The concourse is below the stands and when I walked up the stairs I got a great view of the field. The grass was stunning and everything from the stands to the outfield walls looked very clean. The right and left field walls were 330 feet and center field was 400 feet and the home and away bullpens were each behind the right and left field wall. At the top of stands, there are skyboxes which are their suite level, as well as a Beer garden on the first baseline and the Alvarium Rooftop Beehive along the third baseline. These two sections are open to all fans and offer a great view of the field and a different way to watch the game.

The game had a decent sized crowd filled with fans of all ages. Kids were constantly trying to get the Bees players to toss them balls as well as take pictures and hang out with the mascot Sting, I even got a picture with him. The players and coaches would also talk to the fans here and there, the pitching coach John Neagle even complimented the hat I had just bought as well as my father’s UCONN hat. The atmosphere of New Britain Stadium was great and I will definitely be back to see more games.

The game ended 3-0 Westfield Starfires ending The Bees 4 game win streak. The Westfield pitchers did a great job on the mound, Justin Sinibaldi only allowed four hits in 5 innings and Alex Perez closed out the last 4 innings with no recorded hits. I originally went to the game hoping to see two Rhode Island natives play for the Westfield Starfires; Right Handed Pitcher Sam Craven (Trinity College) and Outfielder Jack Wentworth (Seton Hall University) both of whom are from Wakefield, RI. The two of them didn’t get playing time that night so I spent it just taking in and experiencing a new ballpark and a great game.  

Finishing thought: While the two Rhode Island natives didn’t play on Thursday night, Friday night Westfield was home playing against The Pittsfield Suns. The game ended 6-4 Suns and Jack Wentworth of Wakefield, RI had a 2 run RBI single in the second inning to put The Starfires up 2-0 to start the game.

Published by theribbe

The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.

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