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Empire League baseball season underway

Saranac Lake Surge, Tupper Lake River Pigs competing in Washington, Pennsylvania

They may not be competing on what would have been home fields in the Adirondacks, but the Saranac Lake Surge and the brand-new Tupper Lake River Pigs are now playing baseball.

This was supposed to be the second season the Saranac Lake Surge were to have competed on their home field at Petrova Avenue as a team in the Empire Professional Baseball League. It would have been the inaugural season for the River Pigs, who were added to the league late last summer with plans to compete this year on their home turf at the municipal field in Tupper Lake.

The coronavirus pandemic made the EPBL unable to play in New York state in 2020, which left the league’s president Eddie Gonzalez searching for a host facility that would be able to accommodate teams this summer. The EPBL found that site in Washington, Pennsylvania, which is a short ride south from Pittsburgh on Interstate 79 in the western part of the state.

The EPBL, an independent professional league founded in 2016, is playing an abbreviated season with four teams, and action got underway with opening games on Tuesday. Along with the Saranac Lake Surge and the Tupper Lake River Pigs, the Black Sox and the Brilliance Sox make up the league this summer, with games taking place in front of no fans at the 3,200-seat at Consol Energy Park, which is the home stadium for the Washington Wild Things, a team that normally competes in the independent Frontier League.

The River Pigs and the Surge both played games Tuesday and Wednesday, and the league took the day off Thursday.

The River Pigs won their first game ever, taking down the Black Sox 10-6 on Tuesday, and they lost their next game, falling 6-3 to the Brilliance Sox Tuesday, which evened their record at 1-1. Meanwhile, the Saranac Lake Surge are still looking for their first victory following losses to the Brilliance Sox and the Black Sox by 6-5 and 12-7 scores.

There’s little doubt that baseball fans in the Tri-Lakes would have loved seeing a new rivalry between teams who were based 20 miles away from each other, and hopefully that will be the case next season. That rivalry however, may start brewing a little more than 500 miles away from the Tri-Lakes today when the River Pigs and the Surge square off for the first time with the opening pitch slated for 11 a.m.

For more information on the league, including schedules, scores and rosters, visit empireproleague.com.

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