New England Baseball League: Schultz in Sanford & Diekroeger in Newport atop Of the Pack
The 2 nd place Sanford Mariners of the Eastern Division are only half a game behind the leading North Shore Navigators. Their outfielder Jim Schultz is the most dominating hitter in the league so far. After 81 at bats, Schultz is hitting .395 with an on base percentage of .438 and slugging .556. His story will not be built on power hitting, but so far Schultz has belted 2 homeruns with 12 RBI’s. In his most recent games as a cleanup hitting DH, Schultz has went 7 for 10 and helped the Mariners win 2 games. This past spring he was a junior at East Connecticut State where his numbers and consistent hitting took them to the Division 3 regional tournament. Schultz led his team with a batting average of .377 and a slugging percentage of .623. He was also tied for 1st in his team with 66 hits, 19 doubles, and stole 12 out of 12 bases.
Schultz and East Connecticut State finished tied for 1st place in the Little East Conference with Keene State. In the first game of the regional against Worcester State, Schultz hit in the 3rd slot and went 3 for 6 with 3 RBI’s, and 3 runs scored in an overwhelming 10-4 victory. In the two losses that ultimately knocked them out of the tournament, Schultz when 3 for 7, with a run scored and one driven in against Tufts University and Wheaton College. As a Mariner this summer, Schultz is not only leading the league in hitting, he’s also pitched in 3 games including a sharp performance against the Keene Swamp Bats where Schultz went for 7 innings, scattering 4 hits, giving up 1 run, and only walking 1. The multi-talented athlete is working on helping his team jump ahead of the Navigators in the 2nd half of the summer.
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The Newport Gulls are a team with a .500 record going into July 4th and sit in 4th place in the Eastern Division. For the week ending on June 27th, the Gulls infielder KennyDiekroeger was named the leagues player of the week, and has the 2nd highest batting average overall. After 68 at bats he’s hitting .382 and is building a high rise on the success he experienced as a freshman this past spring at Stanford University. In ’09 as he was leaving the High School life, Diekroeger was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2nd round. Instead of signing a professional contract, Diekroeger committed to Stanford where he exploded into the PAC 10 and headed straight into the NCAA regional. In that season, Diekroeger led Stanford with a batting average of .356. He was tied for 1 st on the team with 77 hits and 41 RBI’s. Even though Stanford lost their first game of the regional against New Mexico, Diekroeger played third base and went 3 for 5 with 2 RBI’s hitting in the 5th slot of the lineup.
This summer, Diekroeger is not letting much get past him as a hitter. In the first 5 games of the summer, he slapped 6 base hits and a homerun. Then Diekroeger went on a 9 game hitting streak that included 6 hits for extra bases. The New England Baseball League was founded in 1993 right in the middle of the Cape Cod and Atlantic Leagues. This is a well respected and influential league that is continuing to recruit and accommodate some of the best baseball players in the country. On July 9th, 10th, 12th, and 14th, four New England Baseball League teams will play against Team Canada for some international baseball rivalry during Canada’s exhibition tour. On July 16 th team Canada faces Team U.S.A in St. Paul. This is only the beginning of an always exciting and baseball filled summer.
By Adrian Nevarez
DFN Sports Staff Writer