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2022 New England Summer Series: Team Preview - Southern Maine River Rats


Bruce Hefflinger and Dylan Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer and Editor in Chief/NW Scout

 

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Eight of the top organizations in New England have teamed up with Prep Baseball Report to form a new league that will benefit players and colleges alike.

The PBR New England Summer Series will begin in late June to the delight of those involved.

“College coaches can come out to see the best organizations in the area,” explained Rich Gilbride, the director of the league. “A bunch of colleges in New England have asked why can’t we get something together at one venue for them to come out and watch and we finally decided to get one together. Everyone thought it was a great idea.”

The eight-team league will play four games once a week at Fraser Field in Lynn, Ma,, a 5,000-seat venue that has played host to many minor league teams over the years. Games will be nine innings in duration and be held at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. every Tuesday beginning on June 28.

Players throughout each organization in the 2023-2025 graduating classes will participate.

“These are high-level organizations that already send kids on to play college baseball,” Gilbride said. “This will only help bring maximum exposure for players in each organization.”

The Expos, Gilbride’s organization, will be joined in the newly formed league by the U.S. 9 Prospects, GBG Hawks, J & M Baseball Academy, Northeast Baseball, New England Ruffnecks, River Rats and Team Boston. Each will play one game each week over a seven-week season, with play ending on Aug. 16.

2022 New England Summer Series: Team Preview - Southern Maine River Rats

Southern Maine River Rats

Marcus Crowell speaks about the organization.

What began in 2013 as an organization with youth teams has now expanded.

“This is our fourth year playing in front of college coaches,” noted Marcus Crowell, the do-it-all director of the organization who schedules practices and tournaments and coaches while also running the Hitters Count Training Facility in Saco, Me.

There are four showcase teams and three high school teams in an organization with 20 total teams between youth and middle school along with those seven.

“It’s about development,” pointed out Crowell. “We really want to help kids take the game to the next level. We give everything we can in the winter to help get them better. It’s not just in-game development, it’s about individual life lessons, becoming better baseball players and, for some, helping them reach their college and pro dreams.”

College commits from the organization now total more than 20.

“A lot of them are at Division III, but a handful are at the Division I level,” Crowell related. “The program is really growing now with four showcase teams. We want to help them find the right fit, the right home. We want to celebrate all the commitments, whether it’s D-I or D-III.”

There is a strategy behind it all.

“We try to blend everything,” Crowell explained.”There is a lot of value with team camps. You’re guaranteed college coaches and it’s easy to plan pitching. There are also events like the Boston Open with winner takes all. There is a competitive focus with a lot of value on winning.

“We try to get players to focus on playing no matter the environment. There are prospect events and PBR events. Being able to show numbers with PBR, there’s always a value to that.”

The new PBR New England Summer Series provides another avenue for the organization.

“Number one there is really good company,” Crowell said. “If you look at the eight teams it’s really an impressive list. It’s an additional opportunity for exposure and it’s on a Tuesday so it’s not going to interfere with weekends. It’s an opportunity to be seen mid-week.

“We’re excited to be in the ‘elite eight,’” Crowell added. “There will be exposure to the competition, not just exposure to coaches, so you’ve got to be battle-tested. This league will provide all of the above.”

Most players in the organization come from a 30-mile range of surrounding towns from the facility along with a few players on the New Hampshire border. Teams range from 9U through showcase.

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