BY RICKY ST. CLAIR  Sports Editor

OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine — The Plattsburgh RedBirds will look to defend their Empire Professional Baseball League (EPBL) championship, when they hit the diamond against the Old Orchard Beach Surge at 6:30 p.m. at The Ballpark.

Last year, the RedBirds (31-27) topped the Surge (33-25) 3-1 in a best-of-five series to capture the Empire Cup in their inaugural season.

Plattsburgh is scheduled to play 27 games at Chip Cummings Field, and its home opener features a doubleheader against Old Orchard Beach, beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 20.

NEW SKIPPER

The RedBirds will be managed by Selwyn Young, a 58-year-old native of Los Angeles.

Between 1981 and 1983, Young played second base, shortstop and third base in 226 Minor League Baseball games with the Modesto A’s (A), Medford A’s (short-season A), West Haven A’s (AA) and Albany A’s (AA).

NOTRE DAME LB

Plattsburgh’s roster is highlighted by former Notre Dame linebacker Michael Deeb.

As a sophomore, Deeb appeared in games against Southern California Nov. 29, 2014, and Louisiana State Dec. 30, 2014.

According to an ESPN recruiting profile, Deeb was a four-star recruit at American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida.

In 2018, Deeb hit .262 in 32 starts as a graduate student at Bethune-Cookman.

Pitcher Dimitri Nunez, left fielder Christian Nazario-Cruz and second baseman Raul Shah all return to the RedBirds roster.

EPBL EXPANSION

The league has expanded to six franchises, with the addition of the New York Bucks and New Hampshire Wild.

The Bucks, who were originally slated to play their home games at the Sports at the Beach complex in Georgetown, Delaware, will call SUNY Canton home.

The Wild return after a one-year hiatus.

The Sullivan Explorers have been renamed the Aguada Explorers, and the franchise will join the Puerto Rico Islanders in Puerto Rico.

They will host games at Aguada Stadium and Rincon Stadium, respectively.

Both venues are located in the western coastal valley region of the island.

Two months ago, the EPBL expressed skepticism due to the effects of Hurricane Irma.

But it revealed scheduling adjustments to make baseball in Puerto Rico a reality in a press release May 31.

Last year, the Islanders served as a designated travel team.

NEW FORMAT

The top-four teams from the regular-season standings will qualify for the Empire Cup playoffs.

The top-seeded team will host the fourth-seeded team, while the second-seeded team will welcome the third-seeded team in a best-of-three semifinal.

The winners will meet in a best-of-three final.

Last year, the EPBL championship series consisted of the first and second-half champions.

Email Ricky St. Clair:

rstclair@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @Ricky_StClair

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