The 2014 NECBL season at Cardines Field kicks off on Friday night, June 6, as the Newport Gulls begin their 14th season playing in the City by the Sea.
The Gulls will play 21 regular season home games and one exhibition at historic Cardines in 2014, with the playoffs set to begin Aug. 4. Gates open at 5 p.m. and tickets are just $4 for adults, $2 for seniors, military and teens 13-18, and $1 for children 12 and under.
On Opening Night 2014, the Flock will host their former divisional rival, the Sanford Mainers, who were realigned in the off season to the NECBL Northern Division. The Gulls, who find themselves in the newly organized NECBL South along with the Danbury Westerners, Mystic Schooners, New Bedford Bay Sox, Plymouth Pilgrims and Ocean State Waves, officially kick off their season on the road on Thursday, June 5, at Old Mountain Field in Wakefield, R.I., against the Waves at 6:05 in the first of the six-game, season-long Pell Bridge Series.
The Gulls, who won the inaugural Pell Bridge Series four games to two in 2013, bring back six players from last year’s squad, who were just one win away from back-to-back Fay Vincent Sr. Cup victories, falling to the Keene Swampbats in Game 3 of a thrilling League Championship Series last August. New and returning Gulls from all across the country are making their way to Newport this week in order to finish the job in 2014 and bring the Cup back to Newport for an unprecedented sixth time. A complete 2014 roster preview is available on the team’s website, newportgulls.com.
Season passes are available, good for all 2014 home games, for just $50, and can be purchased on Opening Night at the Gulls Ticket Office outside of Cardines Field. The game will also be broadcast live on the NECBL Broadcast Network and via www.newportgulls.com, with extended pregame show coverage beginning at 5:55 p.m.
Each year, the City of Newport has supported the Gulls by packing Cardines to capacity on Opening Night, including record crowds exceeding 3,000 fans multiple times over the last eight years. The first 1,000 fans through the gates of Cardines Field on Friday’s Opening Night will receive free magnet schedules for the 2014 season courtesy of Carmella’s Pizzeria in Middletown.
The Gulls, who in recent years have been members of the NECBL East, will find themselves with relatively short road trips this summer to their divisional rivals’ ballparks, with the furthest Southern Division opponent residing at Rogers Park in Danbury. Groton, Connecticut’s Fitch Field, where the Mystic Schooners – the NECBL’s oldest franchise – call home, New Bedford’s Paul Walsh Field, and Plymouth, Massachusetts’s Forges Field round out the new Southern Division.
Plymouth, like Ocean State, enters its second season as an NECBL expansion team, and the Gulls and Westerners were once division rivals a decade ago before being separated by the league’s east-west alignment (and subsequently playing each other in the 2012 championship, bested by Newport). In the new NECBL North, the Gulls former NECBL East opponent, the Laconia Muskrats, find themselves pitted against Sanford, Keene, the Vermont Mountaineers, North Adams SteepleCats, and Valley (formerly Holyoke) Blue Sox. The Gulls will play each Northern Division team twice, with one game at each team’s ballpark, and each Southern Division squad six times in completing their 42-game schedule.
The Gulls travel to Danbury on Saturday, June 7, before returning to Cardines Field for a special Sunday home exhibition against the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Wareham Gatemen at 6:35 on June 8. The Gulls lead the annual exhibition series 2-1, taking victories on the Cape in 2011 and 2013 but falling to Wareham in Newport in 2012. Newport remains home on Monday to host the Pilgrims; a complete 2014 schedule can be found online at newportgulls.com.
The Newport Gulls, members of the 12-team New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL), are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded as the Rhode Island Gulls in 1998 in Cranston, R.I., before moving to Newport in 2001. In addition to recruiting, fielding, and developing a team of the nation’s top collegiate baseball athletes and attracting 50,000 fans annually to Cardines Field, the predominantly volunteer organization strives to benefit the youth of Newport County via summer camps, reading programs, fundraisers, scholarships, and charitable donations – totaling nearly $1 million since 2001. The Gulls are five-time champions of the NECBL – the winningest franchise in league history – and were ranked as the overall No. 1 summer collegiate baseball team in the country by Perfect Game USA in 2012.
For more information about the Newport Gulls, visit facebook.com/newportgulls, follow the Gulls on Twitter @NewportGulls or visit www.newportgulls.com.