The New England Collegiate Baseball League is getting bigger.
The NECBL will be adding three teams for the 2013 season, including the first franchise the league has ever had outside of New England. Teams will be added in South Kingstown, R.I., Plymouth and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The South Kingstown team will be known as the Ocean State Waves, while the New York team will play as the Saratoga Brigade. The Plymouth franchise has yet to decide on a name.
The three teams will join the North Adams SteepleCats and nine other teams. North Adams will be entering its 12th year in the league. League commissioner Sean McGrath said the expansion will be good for both the league and the communities.
"I see what [the NECBL has] done for the community of Northern Berkshire County," McGrath said. "These communities have really taken great interest in summer collegiate baseball league organizations."
This expansion -- the league’s first since 2003 -- will bring realignment. Laconia (N.H.), Sanford (Maine), Ocean State, New Bedford, Newport (R.I.), Mystic (Conn.) and Plymouth will make up the Eastern Division. The West will consist of Vermont, Keene (N.H.), Saratoga, North Adams, Holyoke and Danbury (Conn.).
McGrath, a former coach and general manager with North Adams, said the league once had 12 teams but two organizations had since left. Operating with 10 teams wasn’t ideal because teams were forced to play eight games against division opponents. So the league sought expansion to 12. With the number now at 13, McGrath said a move to 14 teams would be on the table in the future.
For now, McGrath said he’s also excited about adding Saratoga -- even if it is outside the New England states.
"We all know it’s a tremendous community, especially in the summer," he said. "They have a lot to offer. We couldn’t be happier to be welcoming the community into our league."
North Adams finished third in the league’s Western division in 2012 with a 22-20 record. The SteepleCats lost in three games to Danbury in the playoffs.