Defending Empire League champion Explorers open home season; coach suffers heart attack

By Win Hadley
Explorers righthander Billy Felo struck out eight Surge batters to help break a five game slide.

LOCH SHELDRAKE – The defending Empire Professional Baseball League Champion Sullivan Explorers opened home schedule at Generals Park this week after a season opening road trip that started with a 1-0 win over the Plattsburgh (NY) RedBirds, followed by five straight losses and then three consecutive wins.
More devastating than the rocky start to the season was losing the services of field manager Jim Hayes, who suffered a heart attack before the June 29 game against the Old Orchard Beach (ME) Surge. The game was postponed, but the Explorers lost the following night 3-2 to the Surge.
The Explorers broke the losing streak on Saturday, July 1, erupting for 10 runs in a 10-1 win over Old Orchard Beach, with righthander Billy Felo striking out eight in recording the victory. Explorers’ centerfielder Cole Easley set an Empire League record by stealing five bases in the game.
The momentum continued on Sunday, as Sullivan swept a doubleheader with 6-3 and 11- 7 victories over the Surge.
Returning home to Loch Sheldrake is certainly expected to help keep the victories coming.
The Explorers open an eleven game homestand with six straight games against the Puerto Rico Islanders beginning July 4 (after the Sentinel went to press), with a double header on Saturday, July 8. Then the RedBirds come to town for five games July 10 through 14. After another extended road trip, the Explorers will return home for 13 games beginning August 12.
For a complete schedule and ticket information, visit the Explorers’ website at
The Empire Professional Baseball League is an independent league that began play in 2016 after the demise of the North Country Baseball League. It is a Rookie to Class A level of minor league. There are currently four teams in the league, the Plattsburgh (NY) RedBirds, the Old Orchard Beach (ME) Surge, the Puerto Rico Islanders, and the Sullivan Explorers. Each team plays 70 regular season games. The post season league championship series is the best two out of three.

Explorers’ manager suffers heart attack in dugout

LOCH SHELDRAKE – Sullivan Explorers manager Jim Hayes suffered a heart attack in the dugout minutes before the scheduled start of the team’s game against the Old Orchard Beach Surge in Maine on June 29. Assistant coach John Kazarian administered CPR until emergency personnel arrived, and it is believed that saved Mr. Hayes’ life.
At last report, Mr. Hayes was still in critical condition at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
Empire League Vice President of Baseball Operations Jerry Gonzalez issued the following statement:
“Jim Hayes suffered a cardiac arrest in the dugout prior to the start of the game. He was given immediate CPR by assistant coach John Kazarian, which doctors believe is the reason he was kept alive. He is under the care of one of the best hospitals in the United States that specializes in cardiac arrest in Maine Medical in Portland. He is currently sedated and has undergone several procedures. He had 2 stents put in to unblock an artery that was 100% blocked. He is very sick but alive and the Empire League, players, coaches and family members have been praying throughout all of this and ask that fans would also keep Jim in their prayers.”
John Kazarian has taken over as manager of the Explorers for the time being.