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Tarp Skunks open season tonight in Jamestown

New Jamestown Tarp Skunks manager Ben Julian, left, is pictured with Randy Anderson, Jamestown Community Baseball board member. Julian will manage his first game with the Tarp Skunks tonight in Jamestown. OBSERVER Photo by Scott Kindberg

JAMESTOWN — The Jamestown Tarp Skunks open their 2024 Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season tonight at Diethrick Park.

Manager Ben Julian can’t wait.

“I’m pretty excited,” he said last week. “Offensively and defensively I think we’re going to be pretty good. Pitching-wise I think we have some really good arms. … As far as I know right now, I think we look really good.”

Julian, who led rival Auburn to a 74-59 (.556) record over the last three seasons, including three consecutive playoff appearances, has also held coaching positions throughout the PGCBL since 2016, and he’s worked as the assistant coach at Mohawk Valley CC, assistant coach at Utica College and currently is the head coach at St. Petersburg (Florida) High School.

“Winning for me is a big thing,” he said. “I hate losing more than I love winning. I want guys who are committed to winning and do what they have to do. Nothing is given. Just because they’re on the team doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed of anything. … Rent’s due everyday and they have to pay.”

Julian, the son of PGCBL President and general counsel Robert Julian, said that a “quarter” of this season’s Tarp Skunks’ roster played for him at Auburn.

“Obviously, it’s a testament to me and our relationship together,” he said. “The fact that they didn’t flinch coming to Jamestown, I think, it really shows how beautiful the ballpark is, how well they’re treated here and how exciting it is to be part of the history that’s here.”

Julian replaces Jamestown native Jordan Basile, who posted a 72-57 (.558) record in four seasons.

Julian knows the importance of player procurement and has demonstrated the ability to recruit talent to the PGCBL.

“There are two prevailing thoughts when it comes to recruiting teams like this,” he said. “One is you get big-name schools and you get whoever they send you, and the other is you go out and recruit players regardless of school.

“Word of mouth through players I’ve coached before is a big part of it, because I ultimately want people who fit in the clubhouse and fit me well. I’m a big character guy. They have to be good people. I don’t care how good a ballplayer you are if you’re a jerk.”

In preparation for today’s 6:30 p.m. opener against Batavia — the Porcelain Bus Drivers will provide a pregame concert — the Tarp Skunks were introduced to the community during festivities Tuesday night at Diethrick Park. The players also had a game of catch with youngsters from the community on the field.

“It’s beautiful,” Julian said. “The light stanchions are a special feature. The way the press box is right there above everything. If you kind of expanded it around, it kind of reminds me of the old Tiger Stadium (in Detroit), and the playing surface is one of the best in the league. Comparably, it’s one of the best stadiums around. … As far as history goes and how it’s maintained, it’s really quite special.”

Julian is hoping for plenty of “special” moments this season, which runs through July 28. The playoffs will follow.

“My goal is to get out and try and meet people here and get people excited even more about Jamestown baseball,” he said, “because I like playing in front of people. It’s a lot more fun.”

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