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Sonoma Stompers: New face, new league, new season

Stompers join California Collegiate League and add new roster of college baseball players in first season since 2019.|

The Sonoma Stompers host opening day at Arnold Field on June 2 against the San Francisco Seals, the first game in two years since the COVID-19 pandemic in a new league called the California Collegiate League.

With these changes, the team starts its season in a new league with an entirely new roster of players, including college players from across the United States hoping to develop their skills and continue their baseball careers.

A new league

Before the pandemic, the Stompers played in the Pacific Association of Professional ballclubs, an independent league operating in the North Bay. The league canceled games in 2020 due to the pandemic and has remained inactive into the summer of 2022 without any official statement, essentially marking its dissolution.

With the break in action for two seasons, most of the former players have joined other leagues to continue playing professional baseball, leaving the Stompers without a league and without a team for two full seasons.

In October 2021, after their second missed season, the Stompers made the decision to switch to the CCL, a league in the North Bay that gives collegiate ballplayers the opportunity to hone their craft over the summer.

Many of these players are from colleges in California, from Santa Rosa Junior College to California Polytechnic State University and the University of California, Berkeley. There are also several players from out of state from Utah, Illinois State and Hawaii Hilo.

Among the ballplayers coming in to revive the Stompers for the 2022 season, there are nine players from Sonoma and Napa county who have moved on to play college baseball.

From the immediate vicinity of Sonoma are three players: Sonoma Valley’s Max Handron, Sonoma native Gavin Rognlien and Justin Siena’s Maxx Castellucci. Though the three went to separate high schools, all three joined their local team for the summer.

After signing on to a summer with the Stompers, Handron committed to Berkeley after a shortened season of college ball at St. Benedictine in 2020 and two seasons at Santa Rosa Junior College.

Rognlien played two years for the Dragons junior varsity teams before transferring to the elite baseball program at Cardinal Newman, where he graduated from in 2020. Rognlien will join the Stompers before moving on to Santa Clara for his college season.

2019 graduate Max Castellucci moved on to Mission College in Santa Clara, where he played for one year in 2020. After the shortened season, Castellucci transferred to Sacramento Community College and made three appearances in the 2022 season.

There are seven other players from Sonoma County: Garret James, Tyler Hellums, Daniel Morehead, Daniel Smith and Sean Flowers, as well as Petaluma natives Aidan Lombardi and Jack Gallagher.

A full season

The team is playing its first full season since 2019, when it was still part of the PAPB and a semiprofessional ballclub. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the dissolution of the PAPB, the team has transitioned into the perennial CCL league, which has been in operation since 1993.

As a member of the CCL, the Stompers will be playing all across California, as far south as Orange County and Santa Barbara.

Not only is the organization trying to rebuild after two missed seasons of ticket revenue, but signing players and staff for team operations has made this offseason one of the busiest in the team’s history.

Contact the reporter Caleb Logue at calebjlogue@gmail.com.

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