South County baseball fans can officially mark their calendars.
After the cancellation of the 2020 New England Collegiate Baseball League season, it’s full speed ahead for 2021. The Ocean State Waves will make their return to Old Mountain Field on June 9.
“We’re really excited,” president and general manager Eric Hirschbein-Bodnar said. “Being that beacon of hope and that sense of bringing the community back together is really what this summer is all about for us.”
The home opener will actually be the fifth game of the season for the Waves, who will be on the road for their first four games, beginning with a trip to NECBL newcomer Bristol in the season opener June 4. A trip to Mystic, another journey to Bristol and a ferry ride to Martha’s Vineyard will follow before the Waves make their debut in Wakefield.
It will be a typical 42-game season for each team in the league, but the slate will look different. In order to limit travel and potential COVID-19 exposure, the NECBL’s Northern and Southern Divisions will not play crossover games in the regular season. The Waves will play all their games against Southern Division opponents Mystic, Bristol, Martha’s Vineyard, Newport and Danbury. The NECBL championship series will be the only meetings between teams from the two sub-divisions.
The change means an extra matchup between the Waves and their Rhode Island rivals, the Newport Gulls, in the Pell Bridge Series, which is normally a six-game affair. The first of seven meetings between the two comes on June 12. The peak of the rivalry comes later, with a home-and-home set July 9 and 10.
The Waves are set to play 20 home games, including five in a row from July 13 to July 20. First pitch for all home games will be at 6:30 p.m. Five Saturday home games highlight the schedule. The regular season concludes July 31, with playoffs to follow. The NECBL All-Star Game will be at Cardines Field in Newport on July 18.
Details for COVID protocols and attendance are still being sorted out with the league, but with several other summer leagues operating last year and college sports returning this year, there is a template for the NECBL to follow. The Waves expect to welcome fans back. Sponsorship and host family opportunities are also available.