Baseball returns to The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach on Sunday, with a home run derby featuring one hitter from each of the 10 teams involved in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national tournament, together with a local Little League team in the outfield shagging flies that fall short of the fence.

Tournament play begins the next morning at 8:30, with ninth-seeded New Hampshire Technical College facing No. 8 Clark State Community College of Springfield, Ohio, in the first of six games scheduled for Monday.

“As far as I know, this is the first collegiate national tournament to be played in Maine,” said Matt Richards, athletic director for co-host Southern Maine Community College.

“We’re also the kickoff event to the re-opening of The Ballpark, so all that stuff is pretty exciting.”

The Seawolves, seeded 10th with a record of 20-21, will face Penn State-Greater Allegheny of McKeesport, Pa., in their opening game scheduled for 4 p.m.

The other co-host is fourth-seeded Central Maine CC of Auburn, which finished 19-7 and won the Yankee Small College Conference championship.

The Mustangs will play No. 5 Penn State-Beaver of Monaca, Pa., at 6:30 p.m.

“We’re feeling pretty good,” said CMCC AD Matt Gonyea. “We’re hitting the ball pretty well. We’re pitching well. We think we’ve got a legit shot.”

Other games scheduled for Monday include No. 3 Southern Virginia against No. 6 University of Cincinnati-Clermont at 11 a.m.; No. 1 Apprentice School of Newport News, Va., against the New Hampshire TC-Clark State winner at 1:30 p.m.; and No. 2 Briarcliffe College of Long Island, N.Y. against the Southern Maine CC-Greater Allegheny winner at 9 p.m.

The tournament has a double-elimination format, with six games scheduled for Tuesday, four for Wednesday and the consolation and finals scheduled for Thursday.

Friday is available for weather-related postponements.

Apprentice (2007) and Briarcliffe (2006) are past champions of the event, held for the previous two years in Hampton, Va., and for eight years before that in Tampa, Fla.

New Hampshire Tech, of Concord, and Clark State will be making their national tournament debuts.

Teams were selected based on coaches polls and power rankings, according to Jim Heath, sports information director for both the USCAA and the Apprentice School.

Old Orchard Beach will host the tournament this year and next before it comes up for bid again.

Little League teams from Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Scarborough will take part in the opening ceremonies, with a team of younger players accompanying a collegiate team on a flat-bed truck for a Mother’s Day parade from Old Orchard Beach High to The Ballpark beginning at 2 p.m.

The home run derby is scheduled to begin at 3, with the Little Leaguers taking the field while the hitter from their assigned college team takes his swings.

Players and coaches will attend a banquet Sunday night at Dunegrass Country Club, during which All-American and Academic All-American selections will be announced.

After years of neglect, a fire and even trees growing on the field, The Ballpark has been rebuilt thanks to an outpouring of volunteer support from the Old Orchard Beach community.

“We’re thrilled with The Ballpark, obviously,” said Gonyea. “We’re thrilled to be the first big event.”

 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

[email protected]