For Boulder Collegians general manager Matt Jensen, every summer baseball season really comes down to just two things: community and contending.
Season number six for the local team begins this coming week, and while it may take a few weeks to show that the new roster can contend, there are already early signs that the team continues to strive to be an asset to the city of Boulder.
The Collegians will play upwards of 40 games this season between their May 31 opener against the Denver Browns (Scott Carpenter Park, 6:05 p.m.) and the end of the regular season on July 18. The will once again play in the Rocky Mountain Baseball League with a chance to advance to the National Baseball Congress World Series in late July/early August.
This year, however, the team will have more exposure than perhaps ever before and fans will have plenty of chances to catch the action. In addition to having full-time streamed broadcasts — the hope is having a live video stream, as well — the Collegians will play 23 home games, including eight doubleheaders, across 14 home dates.
That's more than twice the amount of home contests the team had a year ago, and with that came opportunities for the organization expand its place in the community.
"We have always been grateful for what we could get, but having 14 dates now ... and having every Friday in June this year, it's a big turnaround for us," Jensen said this week. "To have the dates set in January also allows us to promote the games further ahead of time, and it also allowed us to partner with other local businesses and non-profits a lot easier.
"When you go at someone locally in May, and they already have their summer schedule set and have already allocated their money for philanthropy, you're not going to get far. Having those games scheduled a lot earlier has allowed us to connect with those businesses and create a situation where we're able to better let people know what we're doing."
Theme nights dot the entire schedule, the highlights being the "Ball Park Beer Festival" on June 29 and the annual pre-fireworks doubleheader on July 4.
The hope is once again that the Collegians will find themselves in a position at or near the top of the league by the time those fun-filled evenings come around. The promotion of Matt Sena from assistant coach to head coach, and the addition of Eddie Toledo as pitching coach has Jensen excited.
That's been typical over the past five years, but the last few weeks of the season have more often than not been filled with bitter disappointments. Only once have the Collegians made the NBC World Series, and the team is still searching for its first outright RMBL League title despite being hugely successful in the win-loss column.
The roster reflects Jensen's desire to have fresh arms down the stretch. As of Saturday, 15 pitchers had been signed to the team. Jensen also said he felt really good about the firepower of the lineup — which should keep the team among the league's best at producing runs.
"We were happy about getting guys who just had some (at-bats) with their team, but this year we really have a solid group of guys who not only were a part of a team but we big-time contributors in their school's lineup," Jensen said, noting that a few potential players are currently in Grand Junction playing in the JUCO World Series. "We've always struggled with pitching, and I think we have more arms this year, again, that there just aren't as many question marks about. They're going to be loose and ready to go, and honestly I think they're going to be awesome in their roles. We should be able to play matchups a lot better, and that depth will hopefully put us over the hump."
Local graduates added to this year's team include Joe Milano (P, Centaurus), Mitch Trenka (P, Monarch), SJ Mousseau (P, Fairview) and Will Mossa (P, Fairview). Former Green Mountain star Wyatt Featherston, a Colorado Rockies draft pick out of high school, also is listed on the team's roster.
For more on the roster and schedule, go to www.bouldercollegians.com.