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McGAIR: New Arnold Mills Road Race leadership team looking to make its mark on Fourth of July staple

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Arnold Mills

The leadership team that's running the annual Arnold Mills Road Race might be different, yet the group expects the good times to continue when runners flock to the North Cumberland Fire Station on July 4.

A little of this, a little of that …

• The always popular Arnold Mills Four-Mile Road Race that takes place every Fourth of July in Cumberland might be under new leadership, yet participants can still count on experiencing a good time when they toe the line.

Last fall, we reported that replacing Tom Kenwood as race director would be shared by Steve Mazzone, a former Woonsocket Call sports writer whose knowledge for cross country and track is unmatched; Jim Dandeneau, a two-time Arnold Mills champion; Mike Crawley, Cumberland Parks & Recreation director, and Danny Grundy, whose brother Tom Grundy is also a former Arnold Mills champ.

“Tom did a lot of the groundwork already. We’re just continuing to add on with what he’s already done,” said Mazzone.

That said, the new Arnold Mills administrators are eager to put down its own collective footprint. With just over three weeks until race day, Mazzone says a few additions are already in place, most noticeably as it relates to the prizes.

Marathon Sports Inc., a shop that specializes in running merchandise, is providing free pairs of sneakers to be distributed to the first overall male and female finisher. Gift certificates to Marathon Sports will be awarded to the top-three finishers in the age-related race categories, as well as to those who win the individual categories such as First Cumberland Resident, First Police Officer, First Firefighter, and the First Cumberland High male runner to capture the Bryan Sweeney Trophy.

Runners should also be on the lookout for specialty Arnold Mills T-shirts for $10 each that were designed by a family member of Grundy’s.

“We’re hoping to sell a lot of T-shirts,” said Mazzone.

It’s common to see the Arnold Mills Road Race make way for 600-plus runners. A record turnout for this year’s race could in the works due to the committee reaching out to top athletes and area-based running clubs.

“We’re looking to increase the quality of the field and certainly encourage running clubs to come on down,” said Mazzone.

As always, runners who sign-up ahead of time – the cost is $15 until July 1 – can pick up their running bib on July 3 at North Cumberland Fire Station from 5-7 p.m. For those who register the morning of the race, it will cost $18 with signups taking place from 7:30-8:45 a.m. The race promptly begins at 9 o’clock.

Those wishing to enter may register online at www.arnoldmillsparade.com. For further information contact Steve Mazzone at (401) 480-2401 or smazzone5@gmail.com.

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• Rochester is the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, the same Twins who are managed by Woonsocket native son Rocco Baldelli and entered Thursday tied with Houston for the best winning percentage in the American League (.667).

“We talk a lot. Sometimes the conversations veer off in different directions, but they’re very fluid in terms of where we’re at and things of that nature,” said Rochester manager Joel Skinner on a recent Sunday morning while sitting in the manager’s office in the visiting clubhouse at McCoy Stadium.

Skinner was a MLB coach during Baldelli’s playing career but never met the local lad until earlier this year at spring training.

“He reached out to me after he got the (Twins) job and we had a nice conversation,” said Skinner. “Spring training was wonderful and it’s all been good. Very inclusive.”

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• The date (Friday, June 28) and venue (East Greenwich High School) are set for the intrastate all-star contest that features Rhode Island’s high school football Class of 2019. Details concerning roster makeup and coaches should be determined pretty soon.

• Once again, Dave Belisle plans on putting on his analyst hat and head to Bristol, Conn. to help ESPN’s Little League coverage. It will mark the fifth straight summer in the broadcast booth for Belisle, who plans to see as many Major Division games as he can before heading to the regionals that are scheduled for August 3-10.

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• Two members of Lincoln High’s baseball Class of 2018 earned their stripes as key bullpen options for their respective D-III colleges this past spring.

At Wheaton College, Dominic Cunha appeared in 20 games (19.2 innings) and struck out 24 compared to allowing 16 hits and nine walks while posting a 3.20 ERA. Up at New Hampshire’s Rivier University, Brandon Kelly compiled a workload that included 23 games (29.2 innings) with 26 strikeouts and a 4.25 ERA. Kelly gave up 28 runs but in an amazing twist, only 14 of them were credited as earned.

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• Scheduled to receive the Rhode Island Baseball Coaches Association’s Carl Toti Memorial Award that recognizes coaching excellence is the late Tom Eccleston, who guided the Burrillville High baseball team for nine seasons. His Bronco squads won six consecutive divisional titles from 1945 to 1950, and three state championships from 1948 to 1950.

Eccleston will be officially recognized at the June 27 RIBCA banquet to be held at Wright’s Farm.

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• Speaking of R.I. high school baseball, now seems as good a time as any to float out the suggestion of scheduling the finals in all divisions on the weekend. Every sport, regardless of the season, seems to prioritize staging the biggest game or meet on either a Saturday or Sunday.

A weekend start time could go a long way in increasing attendance, though the counter argument is settling on a place that has ample parking and lights. If Cranston Stadium is an option, you can play at night. If Bryant University’s Conaty Park or another locale that’s not equipped with lights comes into play, a doubleheader could be set for noon and 3:30 p.m.

It’s something to take under advisement as McCoy Stadium’s future in a post-PawSox world remains to be determined.

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• When it comes to local high school coaches, Tom “Saar” Sorrentine ranks up there as one of the best to deal with. Win or lose, he always calls in the score – a trait that’s becoming rare with each passing school year. It will definitely be strange to not see Sorrentine coaching basketball at St. Raphael next winter but definitely glad he’s still onboard with leading the SRA baseball program.

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• Rationale behind Bill Belichick deciding to cancel the Patriots’ final two OTA practices that were scheduled for this past Monday and Tuesday? Why waste it on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium when it’s boating season. Time to hit the ocean blue and show off his boat “VIII Rings” – an homage to the number of Super Bowl rings that Belichick has won.

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• We should all have a little Zdeno Chara in us.

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• Congrats to my podcast partner and South County Independent sports editor Will Geoghegan and his wife Meg on the newest addition to their family – baby Molly, born May 18.

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• This column would have been longer but it seems more appropriate to end with keeping good thoughts and prayers with David Ortiz.

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03. Check out the “Ocean State Sidelines” podcast that appears weekly on www.pawtuckettimes.com and www.woonsocketcall.com

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