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Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 9:23 am

Muckdogs run young season record to 7-2 with run-scoring offense

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, Batavia Muckdogs, muckdogs, sports

The 2014 edition of the Batavia Muckdogs, at least so far, isn't a team with a lot of pop, but they've shown they can put runs on the board.

In nine games this season, the Muckdogs have scored at least five runs six times. At 7-2, they have the best record in the Pinckney Division and are tied with Brooklyn for the best record in the NYPL.

In nine games, only reserve shortstop Brian Anderson has any home runs, with two in eight at bats, but five starters are hitting over .300.

The Muckdogs lead the league in hitting with a .245 team batting average.

The hitting has made up for a subpar contribution from the hurlers so far. The staff ERA is near the bottom of the league at 3.22.

Saturday night, Batavia had its biggest offensive game yet, scoring 10 runs on 14 hits for a 10-6 victory over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (3-6). Jorgan Cavanerio tossed six innings, giving up four runs, to notch his first win of the season.

The offensive was led by catcher Brad Haynal, a San Diego State product making his professional debut. Taken by the Miami Marlins in the 18th round of the 2014 draft, Haynal was 2-4 with a double and three RBI.

With three hits apiece were DH Carlos Duran and 2B Mason Davis. Duran, a Dominican in his fourth professional season who is hitting .320, had two RBI. Davis, the leadoff hitter, from Georgia, had a triple and his hitting .321 on the season. 

Outfielder Kevin Grove, who went to high school in Los Angeles and college in New York City (St. John's), also had two hits, with a double and RBI. An undrafted free agent, Grove is hitting .324 in his first professional season through eight starts. 

Ryan Aper, a centerfielder from Lincoln, Ill., taken in the sixth round by the Marlins in 2013, had two hits and scored two runs. Aaron Blanton, from Texas, a ninth-round pick in 2013, also had two hits. Blanton is the starting shortstop.

The Muckdogs are home again this evening against State College. Game time is 5:05 p.m. It's Irish Night, sponsored by O'Lacys. Also, the first 100 seniors 60 and over will receive a voucher for a free hot dog, soda/coffee and snack item. The Muckdogs and State College meet again at 7:05 p.m., Monday.

Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 10:14 am

Registration deadline is July 14 for Putt Putt Golf Tournament in August

post by Billie Owens in announcements, sports

Putt Putt Golf Tournament

Aug. 1, 2014  5:30 p.m.

Golf, prizes, basket auction, live auction

$35 includes golf, dinner, 5 basket raffle tickets

$120 per team of 4

Call Sue at MHA 344-2611 for more info or to register.

Deadline to register is July 14.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Local 12-year-old races stock cars, dreams of being in the Daytona 500

post by Julia Ferrini in batavia, Race cars, Raceway 5, sports, stock car race

Oftentimes, young boys can be seen playing with Matchbox cars or Tonka trucks, building roads and ramps in playground or backyard sandboxes during the summer. As they get older, remote-control cars and trucks get tested on homemade ramps, curbs or other obstacles boys deem interesting. On rare occasions, one may find a young boy who races stock cars. Now we’re not talking modified stock cars to fit a growing boy’s frame, these cars are full-size NASCAR-style vehicles, equipped with all safety modifications required of NASCAR. 

Meet 12-year-old Dante Mancuso, of Batavia. The seventh-grader is currently ranked number one in the Bandit Class division at Raceway 5 at the Genesee County Fairgrounds. The 12- to 18-year-olds, race on an oval dirt track and can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

“There’s no chance of me going anywhere because I’m so locked in there,” Mancuso said. “I can only move to shift and steer.” 

Backtracking just a bit, just how did this young lad become interested in racing?

“On my first birthday my dad got me one of those little four-wheelers,” Mancuso said. “I have loved driving ever since.”

Racing does seem to run in the family. Mancuso’s grandfather, Steven Popovich, was a stock car driver in the '50s, driving on both dirt and asphalt tracks. He raced at Lancaster National Speedway when it was still a dirt track under the nickname “The Royal Rebel,” driving car number 30. Additionally, family friends, Larry Richmond and Larry Corp, would also take Dante to the races.

Yet the real beginning was when Mancuso started racing RC (radio-controlled) cars competitively at the age of 9 at the KRZ Raceway and Hobby, Batavia.

“The more I competed, the more I wanted to try and race with something I can sit in and drive,” Mancuso said.

The 1988 Ford Mustang LXT Mancuso drives is a standard six-speed, sporting a number one on the door and “Elvis” where the license plate is normally found. 

“The safety precautions,” David Mancuso, Dante’s father, said, “they’ve taken the NASCAR safety features and applied them to the cars these boys drive.”

“I hit the wall in a recent race,” Dante said, “and it felt more like a tap because I’m so strapped in.”  

“When he hit the wall, he hit the tires first and bounced back a bit before actually hitting the concrete wall and that slowed the impact,” the older Mancuso said. “Even with all the safety features my wife still can’t watch. She puts her head in my lap during the race.”

The aforementioned tires are ones that line the concrete barricade for just such incidents. It’s a safety feature built into the track.

Although the young Mancuso participates in what most would consider an adult sport, he is still a kid and school takes precedence over racing. 

“After school I’d do my homework and if I can, I work on my car,” said the Batavia native. “But Saturdays are the best day because I get to do my favorite thing -- other than spending time with my family -- and that’s working on my car.”

The deal with his parents is this: “If I fail a class, I don’t get to race."

“I’m really excited about summer,” Dante said, “because I also play football.” 

Last year, Mancuso played for the Batavia Bulldogs, the Batavia town league. This first stringer played many different positions on the defensive line.

“I like to say he’s got the ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ ” the elder Mancuso said. “He likes to win.”

“When you lose, you learn something. When you lose, you lose with pride,” Dante said. “I learn something when I lose. As the racing saying goes ‘Don’t let your head get too big.' In other words, don’t get overconfident in yourself. Learn something from every race.” 

While the middle-schooler prepares himself to go further in racing -- having his eye on the Winston Cup or the Daytona 500 -- right now he says he wants to be the best he can be “in life, in racing, in general. Just to be the best I can be.

“Racing is a team sport. It’s no use getting angry at losing, just learn something for the next race, because you never know, you could take first in your heat and then win.”

Mancuso races against six to 10 other drivers. There are two races on race night: the heat, then the feature.

“To qualify in a heat, you need to finish the heat,” Dante said. “Depending on where you finish, that places you for the feature.”

Racing is a point system from both the heat and the feature races. Each placement -- first, second and so on -- garners points and position. With races held every weekend, weather permitting, he never really knows what’s in store for him.

“Before I even get out on the track I take 10 seconds to just breathe and clear my mind,” the boy said. “When I get on the track I focus on the track and nothing else. I’m focused on winning.

“Most important of all, other than my mom and dad’s support, if I didn’t have (the support of) fellow racer Jason Babbitt (Babbitt Racing) and Larry Corp (chief mechanic at Mancuso Limo),” Mancuso continued. “I wouldn’t be able to race.”

More often than not, Mancuso works alongside his crew to learn not only the basics of car mechanics but the more intricate details of owning a car.

“They teach me the mechanics as I go along,” Dante said. “I’ve learned how to change racks and transmissions and things like that.”

Mancuso’s sponsors include his dad, David Mancuso of Mancuso Limo and Buses of WNY, Batavia; Nate Mancuso of Caesar Auto and Truck, Bergen; and James Gayton of The Detail Shop, Batavia.

When asked why he is involved in a potentially dangerous sport: “It’s my passion. I love to do it.”

Monday, June 16, 2014 at 11:19 am

GCC athletics to host summer sports camps for girls - softball, volleyball, soccer

post by Billie Owens in sports

Press release:

Registration is now open for the upcoming summer sports camps that will be hosted by Genesee Community College athletics and its participating programs. The camps include softball, volleyball and girls soccer.

The first scheduled camp is for softball and is open to girls of all ages and skill levels. The camp will run from July 14-17 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. GCC head softball coach Cassie Moore will ensure that each participant learns the proper, fundamental techniques essential for the sport. The cost of the camp is $100 and includes a camp T-shirt, skill drills, infield play, footwork drills, mental side of hitting, bunting, catching drills, relay games and a water balloon fight on the final day. Registration is limited to the first 30 campers. Contact Coach Moore with any questions or concerns: camoore@genesee.edu.

The women's soccer program will host a camp from July 21-25 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for girls ages 12-17. GCC women's soccer head coach Jeff Reyngoudt will be joined by other area coaches and college players throughout the five-day camp. The GCC soccer program believes the "game" is the best teacher and that philosophy will be evident at the camp. Cost is $125 and includes a T-shirt. Contact Coach Reyngoudt with any questions or concerns: jcreyngoudt@genesee.edu.

Volleyball will host the final summer camp from July 28-Aug.1 for girls in grades 7-12. The camp will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and conclude on Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. GCC head volleyball coach Jim Mercer will ensure that each participant learns the proper, fundamental techniques essential for the sport. Participants will learn the skills, drills and thrills of volleyball led by Mercer and select assistant coaches. Cost of the camp is $125 and includes a camp T-shirt. Contact Coach Mercer with any questions or concerns: jlmercer@genesee.edu.

Registration for summer camps can be made online: www.geneseeathletics.com.

Genesee Community College athletics program endeavors to provide a quality and competitive intercollegiate athletics program consistent with the National Junior Collegiate Athletics Association (NJCAA) philosophy and the overall educational mission of Genesee Community College. Participation in collegiate athletics should be an extension of the total educational experience for the student athlete. The inherent philosophy emphasizes the athletic setting as a classroom used to teach character, commitment, work ethic, respect for differences, and the importance of sacrifice, teamwork, and cooperation.

For further information and pictures go to Genesee's Athletic Web page, which is updated regularly with game results, team rosters, photographs and information about Genesee's overall athletic program. http://www.geneseeathletics.com

Sunday, June 15, 2014 at 12:39 am

Scoring outburst in eighth give Muckdogs win in home opener

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, muckdogs, sports

A seven-run eighth inning propelled the Batavia Muckdogs to victory in the team's 2014 home opener in front of 1,400 fans.

A three-run double by Miles Williams broke the eighth wide open after the Muckdogs trailed Auburn throughout the game 2-0.

Alexander Carreras got the win, tossing three scoreless innings. Starter Jose Adames went five innings, giving up the two runs on two walks and five hits. He fanned five.

The Muckdogs were held to only six hits on the evening, with second baseman Rony Cabrera collecting two hits.

Batavia is 1-1 on the season and meet up with Auburn again today at 2:05 p.m. at Dwyer Stadium. Next home game is Monday at 7:05 p.m.

Photos by Mike Janes.

Top photo: Shortstop Aaron Blanton slides home safely during the team's seven-run eighth inning.

Manager Angel Espada is introduced before the season opener.

Shortstop Aaron Blanton poses for a photo with Ann Gavenda after she threw out the ceremonial first pitch; Gavenda was in attendance during the 1939 opener.

First baseman Scott Carcaise tags Jose Marmalejos-Diaz on a pickoff attempt, however Diaz was called safe.

Catcher Rodrigo Vigil at bat.

Two young fans participating in the three-legged race in between innings.

Young fan gets to hit Muckdogs General Manager Travis Sick in the face with a pie after answering a trivia question correctly.

Relief pitcher Alexander Carreras, the game's winning pitcher.

 Outfielder Ryan Aper leads the celebration after the Muckdogs defeated Auburn 7-2.

Sunday, June 15, 2014 at 12:14 am

Notre Dame out of sync in state championship semi-final in Binghamton

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

Things really didn't go Notre Dame's way in what turned out to be the baseball team's final game of the season.

Nobody wanted it to end this way, with a 7-1 loss to Smithtown Christian in the Class D semi-final game for the state championship, but Coach Mike Rapone said he told his players to hold their heads high.

"I tried to joke with them that if I told you the first day of practice that, 'you know what, we're going to lose in the state semi's,' I think you might have signed up for it," Rapone said.

Starting pitcher Alec Covel agreed. Clearly pained by the loss, he said he still recognized the Fighting Irish accomplished a lot this year, more than they might have thought possible at the start of the season.

"It's been fun," Covel said, not at all sounding like it has been fun. "I'm going to tell my kids about it someday. It's something to look back to."

Covel clearly had a reason to be disappointed. The ace of the staff, and a big reason Notre Dame made it this far, Covel struggled with his control all afternoon.

He walked the first two batters he faced. Both would score, because of throwing errors, even as Covel recorded all three outs in the inning on Ks.

"I was battling the whole time, pitching from behind and it showed," Covel said.

After the top of the first, Covel went with a coach into the bullpen to throw more.

"I was working on a drill to get over my front side," Covel said. "The mound was flatter than usual and I couldn't get over my front side and I was leaving pitches up."

Catcher Andrew Mullen said he thought Smithtown's hitters did a good job of not letting Covel establish a rhythm.

"The took their time in there, like any good team would," Mullen said. "I think that shook him up and then after that, things really didn't go our way, so he couldn't get comfortable."

Mullen thought Smithtown's starter, Jack Palma, who threw a complete game, threw harder than pitchers Notre Dame has faced recently, but he wasn't unhittable.

In fact, Notre Dame put a lot of balls into play, just not too many of them were hit hard or turned into hits.

"Anything in the infield they would chew up and it was an out for them," Mullen said. "That definitely helped them."

Rapone said Palma wasn't at all overpowering.

"All he threw was a fastball and a change up, but he was keeping us off balance," Rapone said. "We only hit the ball hard but a few times, so you've got to give him credit. Whatever he was doing was working."

Even though Covel walked four, he struck out six and Rapone said he pitched well enough that Smithtown should not have been able to put seven runs on the board.

"If we made some plays behind him, it's a lot closer game," Rapone said. "But they're a good baseball team. They didn't make too many mistakes. They were patient at the plate. They didn't help us out with anything, and we threw the ball around a little bit, misplayed a ball in the outfield we probably should have caught, and that's what happens. When you get to this level, the team that executes better wins. They executed better, so they won."

A team that has been relaxed all year may have found it a little harder to get loose for such a big game, Rapone said.

"I was surprised that, as loose a group as this has been all year, they were a little tight before the game, and then they started playing that way," Rapone said. "I think if we could have gotten out of the first inning, as we probably should have, without giving up anything, maybe we would have relaxed a little bit."

Mullen agreed with Rapone's assessment.

"We were a little nervous coming into this," Mullen said. "It was a lot of pressure on us. We had been really relaxed to this point, but I think being in the final four finally caught up to us. I think a little bit of nerves got to us, and he (Palma) was a good pitcher."

In the final, Smithtown beat Hancock 7-3 to take the state's Class D title.

We'll have a slideshow of more photos available in the morning.

Notre Dame supporters, reminder, it would be a big help with the expense of this coverage if you joined The Batavian Club.

Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Notre Dame drops first-round game in baseball state championship

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, high school sport, Notre Dame, sports

Smithtown Christian celebrated a first-round victory over the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame this afternoon at Broome Community College in Binghamton. Smithtown won 7-1, eliminating Notre Dame from the state championship series.

We'll have a game story and photos later (long drive back to Batavia before I can work on it).

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 9:06 am

Notre Dame rallies for baseball team as it heads off to play for a state championship

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

Notre Dame High School held a rally this morning in support of its baseball team before the team left for Binghamton and a shot at a state championship.

Tomorrow, in a final four match, the Fighting Irish play Smithtown Christian High School. The winner will play either Hancock or Heuvelton Central. The Batavian will bring you full coverage or ND's run at the title. This is only the second time in the school's history that the baseball team has played for a state championship.

Photos submitted by Joseph Scanlan.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 11:39 am

Photos: 2014 Batavia Muckdogs tuning up for new season

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, muckdogs, sports

New Muckdogs -- and some returning -- have been arriving in Batavia this week and starting workouts with their new teammates.

The first home game of the season is at 7 p.m., Saturday, at Dwyer.

Manager Angel Espada, in his second season in Batavia, said the staff will have some good young arms and pitching should be a team strength during the 2014 campaign.

"At this level the most important thing is you help them develop," Espada said. "Pitching and defense (are) going to dictate, at any level, but especially at this level.

"I think our pitching should be solid," he added.

Leading the staff, at least out of the gate, will be Gabriel Castellanos, Jorgan Cavanerio, Jose Adames.

Position players to watch include Aaron Blanton, Kevin Grove and Ryan Aper.

The Muckdogs are an affiliate of the Miami Marlins.

Yesterday's workout was cut short by a cloudburst.

For the full season schedule, click here.

Monday, June 9, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Wagering surged to record high for Belmont Stakes says WROTB

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, belmont stakes, horseracing, sports

Press release:

Representatives from Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation (WROTB) announced today that total wagering at WROTB on Saturday’s Belmont Stakes totaled $1,246,239. This beat WROTB’s previous record set in 2004 of $853,578. That year, Smarty Jones nearly completed the Triple Crown.

The 2014 handle number for WROTB is a 59-percent increase over 2013’s $786,062.10. Belmont handle nationwide was up 35 percent from last year. This new record comes on the heels of WROTB’s best day ever, which happened on Kentucky Derby Day, along with a record handle number on the Preakness Stakes. WROTB celebrated its 40th year of existence in May.

“It’s encouraging to see our corporation out pacing the national numbers," said WROTB CEO and President Michael Kane. “California Chrome’s story certainly inspired an excitement not seen since Big Brown had a shot in 2008.  Hopefully his story will generate more interest in the sport of horse racing.”

TV Ratings showed that Buffalo Ranked 8th nationally among viewership in major cities posting a 15.9 rating and a 36 share.

“The hope for a triple crown winner comes up every few years,“ said Ryan Hasenauer, director of Marketing of Batavia Downs and WROTB. “This was the first real Triple Crown shot in the modern social media era. We saw not just sports fans, but nearly everyone talking about the Belmont Stakes in the days leading up.”

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Regional OTB is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 30 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility.

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