Playing in a premier minor league facility, the baseball team opened its home schedule on a rainy Friday afternoon at Campbell’s Field in Camden, N.J., where the new ballpark brought just four more attendees than during the opener at Ambler last season.
But despite low attendance, the Owls defeated Cincinnati 7-5 in the team’s first game at the home of the Camden Riversharks.
Coach Ryan Wheeler said he noticed the team’s energy while it played in an upgraded facility.
“Any time as a college programs you get the chance to come in and play in this environment, it’s really good,” Wheeler said. “I felt like the kids were excited to come here and play. We got here and the guys were really jacked up and it transferred into our play.”
The Owls led from the fifth inning on, as senior pitcher Matt Hockenberry picked up the win.
“It’s very nice,” Hockenberry said of Campbell’s Field. “We’re finally back home, we’re not playing at Ambler and we’re playing at a minor league ballpark. It’s really nice to come out and take the first game of a series.”
Campbell’s Field is also home to the Rutgers University-Camden baseball team, in addition to the Riversharks. Members of the team say the park is a huge upgrade from Skip Wilson Field.
“There’s no comparison,” Wheeler said. “Ambler is a nice facility that has served program well, but anytime you have [6,400] seats, suites, a press box, dugouts, a locker room, all that stuff – it is really nice compared to Ambler.”
“Anytime your surroundings are better than what you’ve had you tend to play better,” Wheeler added.
Senior first baseman Robert Amaro, who went 3-4 with a walk and a run Friday, also said that Cambell’s Field is a big step up from Ambler.
“Coming out here I knew what to expect,” Amaro said. “I didn’t realize how big it was. It’s great to play on a nice field that’s a lot different than Ambler. When you come out to stadium like this the energy is there. I don’t know what it is about playing in a stadium versus playing on an outdoor field.”
The team also hopes that the new ballpark will bring in some more fans.
“Obviously the weather dictates how many fans we get,” Wheeler said.” From the seats you get a view of the bridge and a view of the city. It’s a tremendous place. [We’re] hoping later in the spring when the weather gets nicer we can draw some good crowds here.”
The Owls play 10 of their final 13 home games this season at Campbell’s Field.