NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s Opening Week in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) with both the Ocean State Waves and Newport Gulls gearing up for what they hope to be another successful summer on and off the field.
“Any time there’s a new season, there’s a ton of excitement, a ton of optimism,” said Gulls Director of Baseball Operations Michael Falcone.
There is no shortage of local talent between the Gulls and the Waves this summer.
“To have so many local ties, it helps fill the stands up a little bit earlier,” said Falcone.
“Oh, it’s awesome,” said Waves Assistant General Manager Tim Joyce. “We start working on putting together a roster in pretty much September.”
For Foster’s Billy Butler, it’s a dream come true.
“I remember growing up and coming to games like this, seeing college guys and looking up to them and feeling like they were big league players. It’s really humbling to see all these kids show out and be so into the game,” the Rhode Island outfielder said.
It’s a feeling of unfinished business for the Gulls, who won the Coastal Division last summer, but lost in the playoffs.
“Most wins since 2013, won the division,” Falcone said. “But didn’t win the championship, so there’s some unfinished business.”
Beyond the game, it’s about the community.
“Great baseball. Major league stars of tomorrow. We’re really looking forward to a great summer. I think it’s going to be a great product on the field, really family, fun, entertainment off the field,” Falcone said.
“The talent is always exciting. We’ve got a lot of players from some big schools, Mississippi State, stuff like that, but for us, it’s really being involved in the community,” said Joyce.