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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.

Monday, June 9, 2014 at 12:51 pm

GCC pair finishes top-40 at golf nationals

post by Andrew Crofts in GCC, golf, sports

 

Adam Baumeister (Lancaster, NY) and Chris Mandia (Highland, NY) capped off the 2014 golf season at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III Golf National Championships held at the Chautauqua Golf Club last week and both golfers finished in the top-40.

Baumeister ended the four-round tournament in 11th place and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team. He shot a combined +15 (303), which was 18-strokes off the lead. He began the week shooting a 78, followed with a 74 on day two, shot a 78 on day three and fired his low round of 73 on day four.

Mandia shot +35 with rounds of 82, 79, 82 and 80 (323). He finished tied for 38th place.

The 76 player field was paced by Nick Thompson of Sandhills Community College (N.C.), who finished the tournament at three-under par (285). Sandhills CC won the team title.

 

Full tournament results: http://bit.ly/1oNsc3S

Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Notre Dame advances to state champion semi-final behind one-hitter by Covel

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

The lore of the ace is the guy who can take the big game on his shoulders and simply dominate. Once again, Notre Dame's Alec Covel showed he's that kind of guy.

He struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced in today's regional championship game in Jamestown against North Collins. If not for some mental lapses in the 4th -- when the Eagles scored two runs without a hit or even a knock into the outfield -- Covel would have completed the game with a one-hit shutout.

Instead, the Fighting Irish advance to the state championship games at Broome Community College next Saturday with a 9-2 win over the Section VI champs.

"I knew he'd pitch a strong game for us," Head Coach Mike Rapone said. "I didn't know it would be that strong. He was really overpowering.

"He was vintage Covel today, that's for sure," Rapone added. "This is what you expect of a big time player in a big time situation and he came through."

The Eagles looked in over their head against Covel from the start of the game. They couldn't catch up with his fastball, and Covel knew it, and curve after curve caused knees to buckle.

"I was feeling really good (during the first three innings)," Covel said. "Everything was working. They weren't catching them, so I just kept throwing fastballs and blowing it past them."

The fourth inning got a little weird and it became easy to imagine the team that looked so dominate minutes earlier could let things get away from them.

Covel hit the first batter he faced in the 4th. The next hitter drew a walk on four pitches.

Catcher Andrew Mullen tried a pick-off play at first and the ball sailed wide of the bag. First baseman Tyler Stroud snagged the errant throw. The Eagle base runner on second was already half way to third and Stroud tried to make the throw. It skipped past Louis Reynolds and North Collins picked up its first run.

Rapone thought Stroud should have just eaten the ball and let the runner advance.

The second run came on a throwing error by Reynolds (Reynolds did not make the throw) off a grounder from the next North Collins hitter.

"Alec's going to get you out of it," Rapone said. "Instead we threw the ball around and allowed those two guys to score."

With the threat of the wheels coming off and North Collins putting together a big inning, Rapone gathered his team on the mound.

"These guys don't get down, but I was afraid they would get a little rattled," said Rapone, who has more than 600 wins as a basketball coach. "It's a little like a timeout in basketball after the other team goes on a little run. You take a timeout and say 'hey, boys, slow down. We've got this. Relax. Take a deep breath.' "

The team got the message and Mullen ended the inning -- a bit of poetic justice -- with a pick-off at first.

Mullen -- who nearly came out of his shoes trying to hit the ball all the way back to Batavia on his first two swings in his next at bat -- would also help tie the game with a bases loaded single, giving Notre Dame a lead, at 4-2, it wouldn't relinquish.

The Irish were confident they could hit the North Collins starter, who had little velocity. His big side-arm curve was easy to pick up and dropped across the plate in a consistent groove. They hit him hard in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before driving him from the game.

Cal Tygart sparked the Irish offense, leading off in three separate innings and scoring all three times. He was 3-5.

"Cal's been strong for us all year long," Rapone said. "He kind of gets lost in the shuffle with the other guys that we have, but he's really done well for us."

Tygart said it was all about having fun and backing the ace.

"We just needed to give Covel the room he needed to work," Tygart said. "He was pitching really well so we needed to come out and give it our all and give him the room to work with."

Covel finished with 11 strikeouts and only one hit allowed.

The most unusual stat of the game was the eight hit batters on the Notre Dame side. Stroud was hit four times.

Notre Dame's state semi-final championship game will be against Smithtown Christian, from Long Island. The winner of the 10 a.m. game Saturday will advance to the final at 4 p.m. in Binghampton.

To purchase prints, click here.

Friday, June 6, 2014 at 4:33 pm

QuakerMan Triathlon to be held on Father's Day at Darien Lakes State Park

post by Billie Owens in Darien Lakes State Park, sports, triathalon

Press release:

Eclipse Multi Sport descends upon Darien Lakes State Park to feature a family friendly Father’s Day event -- the QuakerMan Triathlon starting at 8 a.m. on June 15.

Eclipse Multi Sport race management is based in Western New York, and has produced multiple USA Triathlon-sanctioned events for the past 13 years. The popularity of Triathlon as a sport is growing, and realizing Genesee County’s own vast state park was a perfect fit for a new event.

Eclipse Multi Sport is proud to partner with Darien Lakes State Park in featuring a sprint and Olympic caliber distance multi-sport event. There will be multiple opportunities to participate, making it fun for the whole family!

An Olympic, sprint, Aquabike, Duathlon, relay team category and even a kids' tri-event in one day! With a beautiful body of water (swim) and a great trail system (run), as well as suitable road conditions (bike) in and around the park, this makes for a wonderful venue.

Over the past several years we have had a large amount of athletes reach out to us via e-mail to see if our events can extend farther east. Landing in Genesee County is an exciting opportunity for us and the recreational community,” said Dan Horan, founder/race director of Eclipse Multi Sport.

“Knowing this would be a great event setting for athletes of all ages, we researched what it would take to develop an event at the park. Putting many heads together so quickly was a testament to the community.”

The event will be recognized as a USAT sanctioned Triathlon as well as the July 19th, Nickel City Triathlon in Buffalo and, on Aug. 2, the Wilson Wet & Wild Triathlon. These multi-sport events make up Eclipse Multi Sports summer Triathlon series.

For details about each event please visiteclipsemultisport.com <http://eclipsemultisport.com/>

Triathlons are a fairly large undertaking because of the three disciplines involved -- swim, bike and run -- so they require a lot of work to put together. But Eclipse Multi Sport, Darien Lakes State Park, New York State Park Police, Genesee County Sheriff’s Dept.and other Genesee County authorities have come up with a fun and exciting race course.

Eclipse Multi Sport is entering its fifth year producing and managing races of all distances from 5Ks, half marathons, obstacles runs with mud, to Triathlons & Duathlons. All told, Eclipse has almost 25 years within its staff working in the race management industry.

Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Egeli poised to capture titles at state track meet

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, medicine, sports, track and field

Batavia High School track star Alex Egeli stopped in to see his chiropractor, Tom Mazurkiewicz, today before heading off to the state championships in Syracuse.

Egeli is ranked the number one runner in the state in the 400 meter hurdles and 110 meter hurdles. He's the first BHS track team member to qualify in four state events (those two, plus 100-yard dash and he's a member of one of the relay teams).

Mazurkiewicz will be at the state championship as well, working as a chiropractor.

Chiropractic care is being increasingly recognized as important by athletes, Mazurkiewicz said, because joint restriction and muscle imbalance can impede performance and increase the chance of injury. It's become a part of the training routine for NFL and Olympic athletes, he said.

Egeli will attend Freedonia next year and then maybe move up to a Division I university.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 8:06 am

Notre Dame downs Whitesville 14-3 to advance to Far West Regional Championship

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

A favorable post-season schedule and a duo of dominant pitchers have certainly helped Notre Dame make a championship run, Coach Mike Rapone said after the Fighting Irish beat Whitesville in a Class D consolidation game 14-3.

In years past, by this time Section V and Section VI would already have played their regional championship game, but for Notre Dame, that game won't come until Saturday in Jamestown.

The spread schedule has allowed Rapone's pair of aces -- Alec Covel and Tyler Stroud -- to get plenty of rest between starts.

"They've been dominate all year," Rapone said. "Teams are hitting .100 or less against both of them. Covel's ERA is under one and Tyler's is a little over. You come to expect, I mean, I hate to say it, but you come to expect that you're going to get a well-pitched game. You just hope our defense and hitting keeps up."

Stroud took the mound in Dansville yesterday and gave a command performance through five innings. He struck out seven through five and didn't give up a hit until the fifth, when a Whitesville runner reached base on a close call at first.

"Really, I try not to think about it (the no-hitter), but it's there a little bit," Stroud said. "It's in the back of your head, so of course when I give it up, it's like, ah."

That squib of a hit put two runners on (Stroud had hit the prior batter).

Whitesville's first solid knock would come two batters later when their hitting machine, Cole Tracy, would lace a line drive to right field.

Stroud surrendered two runs in the fifth.

It helped, Stroud said, to have his offense jump to an early lead. The Irish scored a run in the first and then six in the second. 

Covel lead the offense with four hits and three RBIs. Andrew Mullen added two hits and knocked in three runs. Jarrod Wall also had two hits.

Mullen, the team's catcher, now hits clean-up for the Fighting Irish and over the course of the season has become an offensive force. He's playing more relaxed, he said, which has improved his approach at the plate.

"I've realized finally now, it's just a game," Mullen said. "It's fun. After this, it's probably over for me playing baseball, so it's fun to be with the team for three years now and it's all fun from here."

Notre Dame doesn't know yet who its opponent will be Saturday in Jamestown, but Rapone said he's confident the team is ready for the challenge.

"We've played good all year," Rapone said. "We've lost 3-2, 6-4 and 2-0, so we've been in every ball game. You just hope to continue to keep playing and see what happens."

For Notre Dame, all of the seniors are now high school graduates. That means no more classes, no more regular routine, the potential to lose focus.

"That's something you worry about," Rapone said. "It's not the same routine. They used to get up, go to school, then go to practice or a game. Now they're home. Who knows what time they're getting up. Some of them have jobs, so they're already working. That's always a concern this time of year."

How do you keep them focused?

"I just tell them to get up," Rapone said. "Get out of bed. But I'm not there to make sure they do it."

Mullen said that as a graduate, you know this is the last hurrah and that's what keeps you on task.

"It's a little scary to see how fast it flew by, so that's one thing that keeps you focused," Mullen said. "You realize the end is near, so just getting up every day and doing the normal routine, not sleeping in until 3 o'clock, and going straight to the game."

This is a team, Mullen said, that will get the job done.

"We're pretty relaxed," Mullen said. "The team camaraderie is pretty good. We can mess around together. We can get serious together. We always keep each other on task or focused and when it comes to game time, we have all the same goal in mind."

Whitesville's first hit. Ruled safe at first.

As white fluffies fell on the field, Stroud was lifted in the sixth after giving up two hits. Stroud was having a little bit of hip pain, which affected his control and velocity. Even so, Stroud was unhappy about coming out of the game. "I don't like to watch," Stroud said. "I like to be out there."

To purchase prints, click here.

Monday, June 2, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Jim Kelly present in spirit at 28th annual charity tournament at Terry Hills

Jim Kelly wasn't at Terry Hills today for the 28th annual charity tournament that carries his name because he's weakened by chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer.

At the start of the tournament his brother Dan had his head shaved both to honor his brother and to raise money for the Kelly for Kids Foundation. He challenged all of the golfers -- donors, athletes and celebrities to follow his example and over the course of the day, many of them did. (Cutting his hair, above, Michelle Napierala).

The Hall of Fame quarterback may not have been at his event this year, but he was there in spirit. Blue "Kelly Tough" T-shirts were everywhere and friends, such as ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman, spoke of Kelly's toughness and said that toughness is why he'll beat cancer and be back at Terry Hills next year to host his tournament. 

Former Bill and CBS Sports broadcaster Steve Tasker said much the same thing.

“We miss Jim being here,” he said, “but at the same token, it’s because of Jim’s presence and the quality of this event and what this event means – this is more than just a bunch of guys getting together for another event; this is like a reunion, not just a team reunion, but a family reunion for a lot of guys who’ve known each other for a couple of decades. The tournament’s been going on for 28 years and these guys are lifelong friends. The fact that Jim can’t be here today won’t change that.”

A fan gets her picture taken with the Bills 2014 #1 draft pick Sammy Watkins.

Former NBA star Gus Williams stops for a free brownie on the ninth hole, where a group of Batavia residents hang out every year to hand out treats to the stars and maybe get an autograph or picture.

Tasker talking with the media.

Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone with a group of Bills fans.

Berman talks with the media.

Actor Dan Baldwin, center, with his group on the first tee.

Tasker teeing off to start the tournament.

Mike Ziegler, a professional golfer and long-drive champion, would, for a donation, hit the drive for golfers on one of the back holes.

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