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All-Star Captains on the Field, Family off the Field

July 4th, 2024

UTICA, Mich. – The 2024 United Shore Professional Baseball League Draft was held on Sunday, June 30th. The Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers’ Infielder Ben Wilcoxson and the Westside Woolly Mammoths’ Pitcher Beau Atkins were selected as the captains for the two teams.

Atkins and Wilcoxson are not only two of the USPBL’s top players, but are actually roommates through the USPBL’s Host Family Program, and have been living together for two years now. Both Wilcoxson and Atkins are excited to be able to lead their respective teams against each other, especially with the in-house rivalry.

“Its a good rivalry, but we get along pretty well, so it should be a good game,” Atkins said. The two will not be taking it easy on each other going into the game, however. “I think I’ll finally strike him out this time,” Atkins said when speaking about the matchup.

Some of the highlights of Atkin’s draft include the Hoppers’ Noah Marcoux (leading the league in .OBP, Slugging %, and Bases), and Francis Florentino (leading USPBL in HR, RBI), as well as star pitcher Michael Esposito.

“I want to hit a lot of home runs and strike a lot of guys out, so I drafted who I thought would produce the most home runs and get on base, and then for pitching I picked some pretty good velocity guys,” Atkins said, “Hopefully we can get some strikeouts and put on a show for the fans.”

Wilcoxson’s team features two of the best pitchers in the USPBL, Pierce Banks (leading USPBL with .157 ERA and .141 OBA), and Greg Loukinen (leading USPBL with 41 strikeouts and 39 innings pitched.), along with some good hitters in Matt Piotrowski and Ben Ferguson.

Ben’s plan for building his team focused on player chemistry and the personalities on his team, paired with his previous experience coaching. “I think we’ll have good chemistry right off the bat, and we just have a solid group of guys to be around and play on the field with.”

Even though both players love the competition and plan on playing their best baseball during the All-Star game, the real enjoyment for Atkins and Wilcoxson comes from the fans of the USPBL.

“It’s fun to bring joy into people’s lives and that’s how I see the game of baseball. Its just fun to be out here playing and seeing everybody enjoying it and watching it,” Wilcoxson said.

“The fans are awesome, it’s just so fun coming out here and playing for the fans, they make everything great.” Atkins said. It’s his third season in the USPBL, and first All-Star appearance. “Its a great feeling,” Atkins added, “Being named a captain is truly a blessing.”

Written by: Ethan Desjardine