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Plymouth welcomes New England Collegiate Baseball franchise

Plymouth lands team in top summer league

The national pastime is coming to America’s hometown. The newly formed Plymouth Pilgrims will open play this summer in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

The Pilgrims, part of a league expansion that will increase the number of franchises to 13, will join South Kingstown, R.I., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., as new entrants. Plymouth will compete in the Eastern Division along with ­Laconia, N.H., Sanford, Maine, South Kingstown, New Bedford, Newport, R.I., and Mystic, Conn. Their 44-game regular season schedule will run from early June to mid-August, with admission $2 for adults, $1 for children.

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Like the Cape Cod Baseball League, the NECBL is a wood-bat league that attracts some of the finest collegiate talent in the country. Alums that have gone to the big leagues include Stephen Strasburg (Nationals), Andre Ethier (Dodgers), and Joe Nathan (Rangers); 85 players with NECBL ties were selected in last year’s Major League Baseball draft.

“Plymouth seems to be an ideal fit with what we do,” NECBL president John ­DeRosa said. “It’s a great area for baseball and I think we can form some real rivalries with nearby teams like the New Bedford Bay Sox and the Newport Gulls.

“The location is terrific and if the team becomes part of the community, which we think it will, then it will be a success.”

The league signed an agreement with the town to have the Pilgrims play at the Forges Field complex off Jordan Road this summer, with an option for next year.

Team president ­David Dittmann said preparing the facility for the season stands as the major obstacle. There are temporary bleachers that can seat fewer than 100 people, while the Pilgrims hope to average 500 fans per game.

“We have to create a stadium-like atmosphere, since there is nothing that exists there now,” Dittmann said. “There are basic things we have to build. We’re going to need help from the community.”

Approximately $150,000 must be raised through sponsorships, donations, and summer baseball camps, according to Dittman. He said the team hopes to eventually play its home games at a field that will be built alongside the new Plymouth North High School.

Dittmann was owner of the Newport Gulls before selling the team to Chris Patsos , who will serve double duty as Plymouth’s interim general manager while the league works to get the team up and running.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to hand it off to somebody by the end of this year,”  said Patsos, a Scituate native who played for the Cape League’s Wareham Gatemen in the early 1980s.

Greg Zackrison, an assistant coach at Massasoit Community College for 10 years who also was a coach with the Cape League’s Harwich Mariners, will be the Pilgrims’ manager.

“We model ourselves after the Cape League in the way we run our teams, which are nonprofits, and in the way we make sure these kids have a great experience and get to that next level,” Patsos said. “That’s their goal. They’re not just here to have fun. They want to get drafted.”

DeRosa said the league will be actively involved with local youth baseball leagues and will be looking for host families to house players. Players will be encouraged to mingle with fans and sign autographs after games.

Rehnquist pours in 32 points off bench

Grace Rehnquist (inset below) averages 18.5 minutes per game off the bench for the women’s basketball team at Williams College. But the 5-foot-9 senior guard from Sharon is also leading the 10-2 Ephs in scoring, a number that received a major jolt with her sizzling shooting performance Saturday after­noon against Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Grace Rehnquist of Williams College.

Four minutes into the game, with the teams tied at 7-7, Rehnquist checked in at the scorer’s table. She promptly buried a pair of 3-pointers in a 31-second span.

Bates coach Jim Murphy signaled for a timeout. Rehnquist drained another trey.

In the Ephs’ 17-4 blitz to close out the first half for a 43-24 cushion, Rehnquist poured in 13 points.

By game’s end, she had torched the New England Small College Athletic Conference rival for a career-high 32 points — four shy of the program’s single-game record — in a 71-36 win as Williams bounced back from a 61-57 loss to unbeaten Tufts the night before. She was 12 for 20 from the floor, but a scorching 7 of 11 from beyond the arc.

“Grace was just amazing,” said Williams coach Pat Manning, who also saluted her teammates, particularly Danny Rainer (9 assists, 4 rebounds) for getting Rehnquist the ball. “She played a total game, she shot her threes, but she also attacked the hoop very well.”

Rehnquist’s brother, Peter, was a walk-on at Boston College.

And their father, Jim , was a prolific scorer at Amherst, where he poured in a school-record 50 points against MIT in 1977 as a sophomore.

Bright spots in loss

Mike Silva (Kingston) and Blake Gallagher (Raynham) delivered stellar performances for Team Massachusetts in the Football University national semifinals for eighth-grade squads Saturday in San Antonio.

Silva picked off a pass in the first quarter while Gallagher racked up a team-high 49 yards rushing and eight tackles in the team’s 25-0 loss to Georgia.

Rob Duca can be reached at robaduca@gmail.com.
Staff writer Craig Larson also contributed to this story.
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