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Saranac Lake Surge homecoming

Players on the Saranac Lake Surge celebrate their second doubleheader sweep and their fifth-straight win at home Sunday when they closed out a series against the Road City Explorers. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — This spring, area baseball fans found out there was going to be a new team in town competing in an independent professional league.

After waiting for the season to begin in mid-June, and then waiting for the team to wrap up two road trips to start the schedule, fans finally got to watch the squad compete when the Saranac Lake Surge played its first home game on Thursday, July 4. The Surge, one of six teams in the Empire Professional Baseball League, took on the Road City Explorers in a six-game home that started on the July 4 holiday.

Their home diamond, the high school’s field at Petrova Avenue, never looked better for the home opener, and although the outcome didn’t go the Surge’s way in its inaugural game in Saranac Lake, the rest of the week yielded great results. The Surge lost their game to the Explorers 10-6, and then rattled off five victories in a row to improve to 8-9 in league play.

Fans, young and old, turned out in numbers on the Fourth of July holiday to support the Surge, as paid attendance pushed past the 350 mark. Add in the youngsters age 16 and under were admitted free, like they will be at every home game, and the number of spectators grew to more than 400 to see their team on a hot, sunny afternoon.

The Surge went on to sweep doubleheaders in seven-inning contests on Friday and Sunday, and sandwiched between was an 8-7 victory Saturday in a nine-inning game.

Backed by his players, Surge manager Ken Matsuzaka addresses a crowd gathered at Riverside Park during Saranac Lake’s July 4 celebration prior to the team’s home-opener. (Enterprise photo — Kevin Shea)

Following their first homestand, the Surge took their five-game winning streak on the road for their fourth series of the season as they returned to Concord, New Hampshire to face the Wild. New Hampshire won the opening game of the series 9-0.

Saranac Lake and New Hampshire squared off on the Wild’s home turf at Memorial Field to open their seasons and each won three times over a six-game series.

The Surge are slated to be back home on July 16 for a four-game home stand against the Puerto Rico Islanders. The day after that series concludes, the league will hold its home run derby and all-star game at the Petrova Avenue Field. The festivities take place July 21 starting at noon.

Saranac Lake’s Stafford Branch, who was drafted by both the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals, throws the ceremonial pitch prior to the start of the Surge’s first home game of the season. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Saranac Lake Surge’s Austin Steinfort, of Holland, Michigan, sends a pitch toward the plate during the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader against the Explorers. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Saranac Lake first baseman Brandon Camargo snags a pop fly. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Surge third baseman Daniel Dominguez closes in to tag out the Abraham Longa after a run down. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Kyle Robinson, of Modesto, California, lays into a pitch for the Saranac Lake Surge. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Fans filled the bleachers, and others sat in lawn chairs, as a crowd of more than 400 witnessed the Surge’s first home game played in Saranac Lake on July 4. (Enterprise photo — Kevin Shea)

Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau tries the new Saranac Lake Surge baseball hat he received from Empire Professional Baseball League head Eddie Gonzalez during the team’s home-opener on July 4. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

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