SANFORD – Laying in rows on the asphalt, in the shadow of Goodall Park’s brick facade, the opened elongated cardboard boxes revealed their treasure.

Baseball bats.

Wooden baseball bats.

Summer is here.

The collegiate summer baseball leagues begin Thursday night in Sanford and Old Orchard Beach. It marks the start of two months of amateur baseball played throughout New England.

At Goodall Park, the Sanford Mainers begin their 12th season in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL), with a 6:30 p.m. game against the Holyoke Blue Sox.

Closer to the coast, the Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide play in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. The Tide open their schedule at 7 p.m. against the Seacoast Mavericks.

Both leagues feature teams across the region. The NECBL, in its 21st season, covers every New England state, plus Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The three-year-old Futures league has teams in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and the Old Orchard franchise.

At Goodall Park on Wednesday, the Mainers gathered for their first practice under Manager Aaron Izaryk, now in his fifth year. Of the 29 on the roster, at least 20 had reported, with others expected to trickle in. Three players from Vanderbilt will arrive later because the Commodores are in the NCAA Division I playoffs.

Izaryk, head coach at Bridgton Academy, is a former Sanford Mainer himself who played at the University of Maine (Class of ’05). He puts together the team, gathering information about players from college coaches. Interestingly, Izaryk sometimes talks to the same coaches about recruiting his Bridgton players.

“Those conversations can be a two-way street,” Izaryk said.

This year’s Sanford team features only one actual Mainer, former Deering High standout Sam Balzano, an outfielder who just finished his sophomore season at the University of Maine (batting .299).

Balzano is one of three Black Bears on the team (along with infielder Troy Black and pitcher Charlie Butler).

“I heard it’s a great place to play summer ball. Great atmosphere. Great fans,” Balzano said. Last summer he played for the Raging Tide and said the NECBL is a “step up.”

One of the biggest adjustment to the summer leagues could be found in those boxes — the bats. College players put away their aluminum bats for now.

The other adjustment is the schedule. “They are playing every single day,” Izaryk said. “They get a taste of what professional baseball is like.”

And pro baseball is on their minds. While the NECBL is not the pro breeding ground found in the Cape Cod League, there are several alumni in the majors. And these games are scouted.

Boston College catcher Nate LaPointe, of Fitzwilliam, N.H., is returning for his second summer in Sanford. He wants to “get my reps in and have a good time.” He also wants to win — and be noticed.

“My dream has always been to play at the next level, and play as long as I can,” he said.

He and his teammates will be playing for the next two months in Sanford and around New England.

The Raging Tide began two years ago as a member of the NECBL. They joined the Futures league last season. The team is managed by Chris Torres, in his first year as a coach after seven pro seasons as a player in minor and independent leagues.

The Futures league focuses mainly on New Englanders, and the Raging Tide have several players with Maine ties. Included are eight from Maine high schools — pitchers Louis Distasio (Cheverus/University of Rhode Island), Jeff Gelinas (Thornton/UMaine), Joey Royer (Cheverus/University of New Haven), Harry Ridge (Cheverus/Bowdoin) and Nick Whittaker (Yarmouth/St. Joseph’s); catcher Mekae Hyde (Lewiston/Bates); and infielders Sam Canales (Thornton/Bowdoin) and Zach Collett (Westbrook/University of New Haven).

There are three other players from UMaine — catcher Fran Whitten, infielder Shane Bussey and outfielder Brian Doran.

Tickets for both Sanford and Old Orchard Beach are $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and children (kids under 7 get in free at Old Orchard Beach).

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases