SANFORD – The Sanford Mainers returned to Goodall Park for their ninth season Thursday morning.

The Mainers had only 11 players available for their first workout, but several more are expected to join the team for tonight’s New England Collegiate Baseball League opener at Laconia, N.H.

“We got three or four guys coming in (Thursday night) and another three or four guys coming in (today) for Saturday’s game,” said Aaron Izaryk, back for his second season as manager.

The Mainers’ home opener is scheduled for Saturday night against the Newport Gulls.

“We’ll have no pitchers (playing) in the field on opening night,” said Izaryk, who recently completed his fifth season as an assistant coach at the University of Maine. “Last year we had three pitchers in the field and one (serving as designated hitter), so we were behind the eight ball for the first weekend.”

It may take up to two weeks for the full roster of 28 players to report. A number of players are currently with schools involved in the NCAA Division I tournament.

As yet, there isn’t a player from Maine on the squad, but Izaryk indicated that will change.

“I expect to add a couple of Maine kids,” he said.

A total of seven players return from a year ago, when Sanford advanced to the New England Collegiate Baseball League semifinals.

“The kids I got back are the kids who are tough kids,” said Izaryk, who played for the Mainers during the 2003 and ’04 seasons. “They play the game hard and they want to be here for the whole summer.”

The returnees are right-handed pitcher Kyle Davis from Keene State, catcher/first baseman Doug Elliot from the University of Connecticut, infielder Matt Marra and left-handed pitcher Tom McDermott from Le Moyne, right-handed pitcher Dustin Ramey of UMass-Lowell, first baseman Michael Roth of South Carolina and right-handed pitcher Colin Snow of Georgia Southern.

“There’s a good core of guys coming back,” said Ramey, who will be the starting pitcher in the season opener.

“Last year there were only two guys back who played the previous year.”

Among the newcomers is Eric Ruth, a right-handed reliever who just finished his freshman year at Division I Winthrop University in South Carolina.

He joined the Mainers on the advice of Winthrop teammates Tyler Mizenko and Ken Monteith.

“They liked the program here last year,” Ruth said.

Mizenko and Monteith, both pitchers, are playing in the Cape Cod League this summer.

“It’s a great program,” Ruth said. “I heard a lot about this league, and this team being dominant in the league. It made me want to come here.”

Izaryk expects the Mainers, who play a 40-game schedule, to be very competitive in the wooden bat league for college players.

“This year we changed our philosophy a little bit to get some team speed in here and improve the defense,” he said.

“We struggled a little bit last year. We had a couple of guys who didn’t run that well, so if they hit a single you couldn’t get them to second base. A lot of guys on this team can steal second base and be one hit away (from scoring).”

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

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