NEWPORT, R.I. – The Gulls saw its 2018 campaign fall just short of a playoff berth after losing to the Mystic Schooners in the final game of the season. Newport ended the summer with a 21–23 record, good for fourth in the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Southern Division. Despite missing out on the playoffs for the second consecutive season, the Gulls came out on top in attendance as it was the only team in the league to average over 2,000 fans per game–2,093.
Newport overcame many obstacles to put itself in a win-or-go-home scenario in the final game of the summer. With just over two weeks left in the season the Gulls sat in fifth place with a 13–17 record. Plagued by injuries, Newport lost some of its top performers with a substantial amount of games left in the regular season. Arizona State teammates Cole Austin and Zach Hoguiesson, as well as Louisville’s Zach Britton departed, but the team refused to let the season slip away. The Gulls would go on to win five-straight games, its longest win streak of the season, to wrestle back into playoff contention. By the end of the season, Manager Mike Coombs and his staff had just nine healthy position players on the roster, making it an all-hands-on-deck situation each night. The few who remained played in every game down the stretch as they made a final push for the postseason but unfortunately came up one game short.
Five of the NECBL’s most promising talents represented Newport in the 2018 NECBL All-Star Game at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke, Mass- home of the league’s 2018 Champion Valley Blue Sox. Outfielder Stevie Mangrum (Tampa) and Third Baseman Kody Hoese (Tulane) both earned starting roles for the Southern Division Team at their respective positions, while RHP Nic Enright (Virginia Tech), OF Tim Tawa (Stanford), and First Baseman / Designated Hitter Dalton Reed (Kentucky) represented the Gulls as reserves. Tawa, Hoese, and Wrighter were all tabbed with 2018 All-NECBL First-Team honors following the conclusion of the season.
Hitting was certainly this team’s strong suit as Newport led the NECBL in team home runs, doubles, and slugging percentage thanks in part to the production of its All-Stars. Reed finished the year batting above .300 (.313) and led the club with 11 home runs this summer which was tied for second in the entire NECBL. Mangrum finished the season second in both home runs (10) and RBI (26), while Hoese concluded 2018 with 43 hits, 11 doubles, and seven home runs. Tim Tawa served as one of Newport’s most consistent hitters as he paced the Gulls in batting average (.336), doubles (14), and stolen bases (12). Gulls’ infielder Jack Gethings (Fairfield) collected the most hits (48) and walks (25) on the team, earning him the highest team-OBP (.426) and a batting average of .322.
On the mound, Nate Wrighter proved to be one of the most dominant arms in the league. The Bryant Bulldog finished his campaign with a league-leading nine saves along with a 2.16 ERA. Nic Enright began the summer as Wrighter’s set-up man but ended as one of Newport’s most consistent starters. Throughout the season, Enright’s control gave him an edge as he walked just five hitters in a team-leading 49.1 innings pitched.
Although the Gulls could have achieved a bit more on the field, off the field was certainly a success. In addition to having the top-ranked attendance, the Newport Gulls helped raise nearly $10,000 through fundraisers at Cardines Field, donated over 100 toys to a local homeless shelter via United Healthcare’s Christmas in July, and contributed roughly $30,000 back into the community through in-kind donations, Summer Camp and College Scholarships.
Since 2001, the Newport Gulls have strived to benefit the community of Newport County while preparing collegiate student- athletes for the next step in their personal and professional lives. The Newport Gulls would like to thank its sponsors, volunteers, host families, fans, and the City of Newport for the continuing to support the organization and allowing the Gulls to achieve this mission once again in 2018. With this year in the books, the team looks forward to capturing its league-leading seventh Fay Vincent Cup in 2019. Make sure to stay tuned to the Newport Gulls Social Media Accounts- @NewportGulls and the team’s website to keep current with all things Newport Gulls.