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Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 9:22 am

Photos: Opening night, 2012, at Batavia Downs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

And they're off ... for the 66th season, there is live harness racing at Batavia Downs.

More than 3,000 racing fans turned out for opening night and they witnessed Shawn Gray, who captured Buffalo's 2012 driving title, notch three wins.

Two other of the nation's top drivers, Dan Noble and Jim Morrill Jr., were also featured on the night.

Monday, July 23, 2012 at 6:22 am

TVYLFSL softball tourney benefits Crossroads House

post by Rick Franclemont in batavia, Byron Bergen, crossroads house, Le Roy, softball, sports

On Saturday the Tonawanda Valley Youth Ladies Fastpitch Softball League (TVYLFSL) hosted a Junior Division small ball softball tournament to benefit Crossroads House.

Four teams of 10-12-year-old girls participated, representing Batavia, Le Roy and Byron-Bergen.

Participants and their families were asked to bring donations from the Crossroad House wish list.


"Crossroads House is a comfort care home for those who have a terminal illness and have been medically determined to be in the last three months of life. Crossroads House is an alternative to a hospital or nursing home when care can no longer be provided in the patient's own home."

Le Roy 2 coached by Micky Hyde won the tournament. Tied in points going into the last game with Le Roy 1, Hyde's team scored a run in the last inning to pull off the win.

More pictures from the games can be found here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 9:55 am

Photos: Tractor pull at the Genesee County Fair

More than 1,000 people -- when organizers considered 700 fans a good turn out -- showed up at the tractor pull at the Genesee County Fairgrounds on Saturday evening.

Competitors brought their machines -- small, medium and mighty -- to compete in various classes of competition, from stock, street-legal trucks and modified law tractors up to souped-up full-sized tractors.

If you're unable to view the slide show below, click here. To purchase prints of these photos (or previous fair photos) click here.

Friday, July 20, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Batavia Downs opens 66th season on Monday

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

Press Release:

A bigger signature race, a new first race post time and Sunday afternoon racing in August are just some of the changes in store when racing returns for the 66th season on Monday (July 23) at Batavia Downs Casino. The pacers and trotters will meet at America’s oldest lighted harness track for 72 exciting race dates.

The Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational Pace, the track's signature event, will now offer a $50,000 purse. This year’s Kane Memorial is slated for October 6. Last year, Aracache Hanover with Trevor Henry in the bike, lowered the Downs all-age record when he paced to victory in 1:51.1. Aracache Hanover is locally owned by William Switala and James Martin.

Racing fans will need to arrive 15 minutes earlier with first race post for all evening racing programs now slated for 6:25 p.m. Racing gates open at 5 p.m. with the exception of August 11 and September 15, when racing gates open for Old Fashioned night at 4:30 p.m.

A total of six matinees will be offered, including all four Sundays in August. The other two afternoon race cards are Labor Day and Columbus Day. Post time for all matinees remains at 1:15 p.m. with racing gates opening at 12 p.m.

Racing will be conducted on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday-Saturday night basis for the first two weeks of the annual Summer-Fall meet with Sundays replacing Mondays in August. Twelve races will be carded nightly except on Saturdays when the Genesee County racetrack will host 13-race programs.

A complete racing calendar is available for download at www.batavia-downs.com.

Changes were made to the wagering menu, with the major change being the minimum on trifecta wagering has been lowered to 50 cents. However a $1 wager is required. One dollar daily double wagering is also being offered.

Superfecta wagering is now offered on all races with the exception of races one and seven. The Pick-4 has been moved to the third race and the late-late double moves to the last two races nightly. The popular Pick-6, which paid $10,000 to one lucky ticket holder last season, begins on race seven.

North America’s leading dash winning harness racing driver in 2011, Dan Noble, will make his Batavia Downs debut on opening night. Noble led all drivers last year with 773 wins. He currently sits fourth this year with 320 wins.

Shawn Gray, currently the leading driver at Buffalo Raceway, will also be racing at Batavia Downs for the first time. The Maine native shipped to Buffalo in January and has notched 185 wins so far this season there.

Jim Morrill Jr., who recently won the $445,594 Yonkers Trot with Archangel, makes a special appearance on Monday night. Morrill established records for most wins and earnings in a single season at the Downs in 2006.

Again this season all racing programs will contain $2 free play coupons that can be redeemed at Players Club. The cost to purchase a program remains at $2, however on opening night and on July 28, the first New York Sire Stakes event of the season, racing programs will be free.

Player’s Club members dining in the track's historic clubhouse will receive $5 in Casino free play with the purchase of a buffet. On Sunday afternoon, the cost of the lunch buffet minus the free play coupon is just $3.95.

The entire racing season will be broadcast via live streaming video at www.batavia-downs.com. Race replays are available at the same web address.

The 2012 season features a variety of promotions, including two old fashioned nights, the biggest free handicapping contest ever and the annual family fun day at the races featuring the hilarious wiener dog races.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Photo: Bill Hochul throws out first pitch at Muckdogs game

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Muckdogs, sports, William Hochul

U.S. Attorney for Western New York Bill Hochul was in Batavia tonight to throw out the first pitch at the Muckdogs game.

Saturday, July 14, 2012 at 6:48 am

Photos: Alexander tractor pull

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, sports

Freelance photographer John Spaulding submitted these photos from the tractor pull in Alexander last night.

If you missed the roar, dust and black smoke, there's plenty of opportunity for more tonight with tractor pulls resuming at 7 p.m. The track is behind the fireman's rec hall off Route 98 on the south side of town.

The annual kiddie parade is at noon and the fireman's parade is at 4 p.m.

The band Red Creek performs at 9 p.m. The grand prize drawing is at 10 p.m.

More pictures after the jump (click on the headline):

Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 5:48 am

Photos: Batavia Little League in championship game

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, Batavia Little League, sports

Batavia Little League played a championship game at MacArthur Park on Wednesday. When I left, Batavia was ahead 7-1 or 8-1, but I've not yet received final results from anybody. Evan so, here are photos from yesterday's game.

UPDATE: Batavia won 9-4 and now advances to a sectionals round, which is hosted in Batavia this weekend. Teams in the tournament besides Batavia: Penfield, Auburn, Fredonia, Portville and Orchard Park.

Sunday, July 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

Muckdog's new shortstop collects first hit in Batavia's 3-0 win

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

Two games into his professional career, Alex Mejia came through for the Muckdogs in a big way Saturday night, giving local fans an idea why the Cardinals selected the Pac-12 Player of the Year in the fourth round of June's amateur draft.

Mejia put the Muckdogs on the board in the third inning against the Lowell Spinners with an RBI double. It was Mejia first professional hit (top photo).

The former El Camino Real High School (Sylmar, Calif.) All-City shortstop also flashed some leather that proved solid defensively.

Mejia helped lead the Arizona Wildcats to a College World Series championship and signed with the Cardinals just a week ago at the end of his junior year in college to help his family out financially. He received a $250,000 bonus.

The newest Muckdog comes from a strong baseball family (his father was an All-American at Pepperdine, his sisters play college softball and his cousin is with the Washington National's AAA farm team). 

The 21-year-old Californian put up impressive numbers at Arizona, hitting .357 in 2012 and .335 in 2011.

ESPN featured Mejia in a recent article, and the shortstop received some high praise.

"His passion to succeed, his intangibles, his knowledge of the game ... Alex has it all," Lopez said. "I wouldn't trade him for anyone."

There are some analysts who believe Mejia is the best shortstop in all of college baseball. The reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year -- and Defensive Player of the Year -- is hitting .361 and boasts a fielding percentage of .959.

But Mejia wasn't the only player to contribute to the Muckdog's 3-0 win over Lowell in front of 667 loyal Muckdog fans.

David Washington, a fourth-year pro from San Diego, who is showing signs of putting it all together this year and is hitting .322, drove in two key runs in the fourth inning with a two-out double.

Tyler Melling picked up his first in four starts this season, tossing six shutout frames, scatting seven hits and striking out five Lowell batters. Mellin's ERA dropped to 2.05.

Last season's starting shortstop is now the Muckdog's closer, and Yunier Castillo picked up his third save on the year. After eight appearances, Castillo's ERA is 0.80 and he's fanned 12 in 10 innings.

First-round pick Patrick Wisdom continued his solid rookie season with two hits and some impressive defense at third base.

Also collecting a hit was catcher Jesus Montero, who is the top offensive player for the Muckdogs so far this season.

Montero is hitting .407 with three home runs and 12 RBI. His OPS is 1.072.

The fifth-year pro is the brother of Seattle Mariner's catcher Jesus R. Montero (the Seattle catcher is known as Jesus Rafael Montero as opposed to the Muckdog's Jesus Montero). The elder Montero was traded to Seattle by the Yankees, where he was considered one of the top catching prospects in the major leagues.

If you're unable to view the slide show, click here.

Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Female hit by baseball bat at Dwyer Stadium

post by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents, sports

Mercy medics are responding to Dwyer Stadium in the City of Batavia where a female behind the third-base line was reportedly struck in the head by a baseball bat. There's a Muckdogs game in progress.

UPDATE 8:11 p.m.: The woman is 50 and was struck by a flying bat from 30 feet away. She is said to have head and hand injuries and is arriving at UMMC.

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 1:44 am

Photos: July 4 at Dwyer Stadium -- fireworks and Muckdogs victory

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, Batavia Muckdogs, July 4, sports

The 2,266 people who packed into Dwyer Stadium on July 4 were treated to more than just fireworks. They got to see the kind of nail-biter game that makes baseball America's pastime.

Down 2-1 going into the bottom of the ninth, the hometown heros strung together a single, double and single, to plate two runs and walk off with a victory.

The winning run scored on a close play at the plate (see above, and the slide show for more pictures of the score) when Anthony Melchionda scored on a single by Jacob Wilson.

It was the first lead the Muckdogs enjoyed all night.

The low-scoring game meant that nine innings passed quickly.

Muckdogs management entertained fans with a game of musical chairs before the sun faded enough to allow the fireworks show to begin.

If you can't view the slide show of photos, click here.

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