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Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Tonight's Muckdogs game postponed

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

Press release:

Tonight’s game between the Batavia Muckdogs and Connecticut Tigers has been postponed due to rain. This game will be made up as part of a double header on Sunday, July 20th. We will play two seven-inning games, with the first game starting at 1:05 p.m. Gates will open at noon. Any person with tickets to tonight’s game can exchange their tickets for any other regular season game, subject to availability.

Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Young baseball team off to good start in inaugural season

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

Jane Johnson shared this picture of the Batavia Clippers 8-and-under baseball team, sponsored by Graham Manufacturing, who she said are off to a good start in the team's first year.

A portion of her e-mail:

The Batavia Clippers 8U Travel Baseball team took 2nd place in their division and 3rd place overall last weekend in the Honeoye Falls Mendon Youth Baseball Midsummer tournament. The team played teams from Canandaigua, Fairport, Mendon, Pittsford and Rochester.

This weekend the team plays in the Clarence Youth Baseball Travel Team Tournament at the Clarence Meadowlakes Park. The team matches up against teams from Clarence, Amherst, Williamsville, Orchard Park, Lancaster, Akron, Buffalo, Evans, North Tonawanda, and Grand Island.

The Clippers team is led by Coach Ben Buchholz, Coach Sam Antinore, and Coach Jeff Grazioplene. The Clippers players are all members of the Batavia Minor League.

Team members are: Jay Antinore, Bronx Buchholz, Joe DiRisio, Dane Dombrowski, Cole Grazioplene, Jake Hutchins, Alex Johnson, Cal Koukides, Jameson Motyka, Carter Mullen, Sheldon Siverling, Malcom Wormley.

Monday, July 7, 2014 at 10:44 am

Video: Vincent Di Risio's first grand slam

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, little league, sports

Vincent Di Risio hit his first grand slam home run Saturday in a 10-and-under Little League All-Star game against Le Roy. Batavia won 12-1.

I saw this on Facebook and asked Leanna Di Risio for a copy so we could post it on The Batavian as well.

Friday, July 4, 2014 at 7:42 am

Muckdogs go down 7-1 to Spikes on fireworks night at Dwyer

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

It was a take-me-out-to-the-ball-game kind of night at Dwyer Stadium. A nice night for a ball game and fireworks.

The hometown team, alas, didn't win. It's a shame.

As 1,782 fans watched, Batavia let first place in the Pinckney Division slip from its grasp, the mood in the stands was barely even dampened, even by a short rain delay in the eighth inning. There would be, after all, win or lose, an Independence Day fireworks show after the game.

Families were there with their children -- some seeing their first professional game -- and fans had the peanuts and Cracker Jacks (not to mention beer and sausage) to fall back on.

The evening started poorly for the home crew, and never really got better. The final, 7-1. The Muckdogs drop to 12-8 on the season. The Spikes are now 13-7.

In the first, starter Jorgan Cavanerio (1-1) sandwiched a walk between a pair of singles, giving up a run, and setting the tone for his fourth outing of the season.

Two singles and a walk in the second led to another run -- a run that scored an inning-ending double play, something you don't see often. The Spikes' Chase Raffield scored on a sacrafice fly to center, then a base running blunder led to Danny Diekroeger getting doubled up at second.

Cavanerio held the line in the third, but the Spikes blew the game open with four runs in the fourth. All four runs came with two outs. 

Jake Stone started the scoring procession with a home run, which could have been worse, if a lead-off walk hadn't been erased by a double play.

During Stone's at bat, there was a lot of griping on the home side about the inconsistant ball and strike calls of home plate umpire Anthony Perez. To partisan minds, Stone should have been out on strikes, and the inning over, on the pitch prior to the gopher ball.

After a team conference on the mound in which manager Angel Espada appeared to try and console his struggling hurler, Espada stood in front of home plate and jawed in the face of Perez for a good two minutes. Perez, stone-faced, just listened. Ejected, Espada walked to the dugout, handed his line-up card to his assistant, and trekked the 300 feet to the clubhouse cheered by fans along the third base line.

Cavanerio gave up 10 hits in four inning of work, walking four. The six earned runs raised his ERA through four starts to 7.71.

Offensively, the Muckdogs never really got anything going. Brian Anderson, Ryan Cranmer, Kevin Grove and Miles Williams each picked up singles for Batavia's only four hits on the night.

Anderson, a third-round draft choice out of Arkansas, has played 10 games at second and is hitting .317. 

Batavia's lone run came in the second, after first baseman Eric Fisher reached on a strikeout, eventually advancing to third and scoring on a double play. There were no hits in the inning.

The National Anthem and "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch were sung beautifully by Emily Helenbrook.

The Muckdogs are on the road tonight, traveling to Mahoning Valley. They return home Monday for a 7:05 p.m. game against the Jamestown Jammers.

Thursday, July 3, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Fireworks to follow game tonight with first place on the line at Dwyer Stadium

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

Batavia and State College, who are battling for supremacy in the Pinckney Division, clash at Dwyer Stadium tonight.

The 7 p.m. game is followed by an Independence Day fireworks celebration.

The starters are Dan Poncedeleon (1-0, 2,25 ERA) for the Spikes and Jorgan Cavanerio (1-0, 6.65) for the Muckdogs.

The Batavia offense will be led by Mason Davis, who is among the league leaders with a .344 batting average.

The Muckdogs travel to Mahoning Valley tomorrow night.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Baseball team still trying to understand ruling over illegal bat that put them in last place

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, alexander, sports, youth sports

The Pine Tar Incident. It's the most famous "illegal bat" issue in the history of baseball. A home run in 1983 by George Brett was wiped out by an umpire, but at least the league didn't strip the Kansas City Royals of all their wins that season.

Unfortunately for the 11- to 12-year-old Tri-Town Dodgers of the Seven Towns League, league officials are forcing them to enter the playoffs as a last place team, essentially erasing their eight regular season wins because a player used an illegal bat.

League rules state that if a player uses a bat not approved for Little League use, the hitter is ruled out and any runners on base cannot advance. There is no other punishment stipulated in the written rules.  

For the Tri-Town Dodgers, based in Alexander, the punishment has gone beyond the written rules. The team was dropped to last place, despite its 8-4 record, which at the time was third best in their division. The standings are important because they effect seedings for tournament play.

There's no other rule violation that carries a penalty of team losing its standing in its division. That sort of punishment isn't contemplated in the written rules at all. The harshest written penalty for a player rule infraction is a three-game suspension for fighting.

Commissioner Brian Krawczyk has not responded to a pair of phone calls requesting comment.

In an e-mail discussion the league officials ruling sent to team manager Christopher Hausfelder, Krawczyk said the ruling was a safety issue "that would make everybody safer for years to come" and that Hausfelder should advise his players should buck up and to learn to accept that bad things happen life.

"I fully understand that it has really effected your team," Krawczyk said. "However, if handled properly, we can all learn something from this situation. Life brings adversity and how you handle that adversity can define who you are. If I was you, I would communicate to your players that they are still the same team that worked very hard and had a great season. Yes, the road to the final destination will be a little tougher. But, we have achieved great things as a team and as a team we will continue to work hard right up to the final out."

The illegal bat was used in the team's 10th game, June 12. Hausfelder said it was bought by the player and no coach noticed it until it was too late. It's the only illegal bat incident on Tri-Town's 11-12 team, though there was a prior, unrelated incident, with the 9-10 team.

For some third-party perspective, The Batavian called James "Beef" Soggs, well known in Batavia for his commitment to youth sports. Soggs serves on the Batavia Little League Board of Directors and is a Little League coach.

"I've got to say, it's ridiculous," Soggs said.

If this was more than a one-time issue with the same team, perhaps a harsh punishment would be an order, but for a one-time incident, he couldn't understand why the team would be knocked down to last place.

"That's really strict punishment for the whole team for something one player did," Soggs said. "That's pretty drastic to move a team from third place to last place."

For George Brett, the umpire was eventually overruled and he got his home run back. For the Tri-Town Dodgers, there is likely no reprieve. It's already the second round of playoff games tonight, with the Dodgers doing the best they can as the bottom seed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 10:46 am

Batavia's rich baseball history recalled in new book by Bill Dougherty

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, Bill Dougherty, sports

Spend a little time with Bill Dougherty, you're likely to hear a baseball story. He's full of them.

After years of telling friends these stories, one friend with a bit of experience in writing books suggested he collect his stories about Batavia baseball into a single soft cover collection.

"Bill Kauffman kept saying, 'you've got a book, oh this is a book'," Dougherty said. "He kept after me to put a book together. So I did."

This month, Dougherty's book, "A View from the Bleachers: Batavia Baseball," hit a few local store shelves.

Now that the book is out, Kauffman, an Elba resident and himself the author of 10 books and a screenplay, is eager to promote the new book. He sent over this endorsement:

Irish names festoon the history of baseball in Batavia: Dwyer, Callahan, Doody, Gerrety, Ryan. Add to that illustrious list Bill Dougherty, whose Batavia Baseball: A View from the Bleachers is a deeply researched, often surprising, and thoroughly entertaining account of baseball as it has been played, watched, and argued over in Genesee County from the 19th Century until today. Every baseball fan in the Mother of Counties should own a copy!

A worthy endorsement for a worthy book.

It's more than a collection of stories, or a mere recitation of baseball glories past in Batavia. It's also a history of Batavia and Genesee County as well as a personal remembrance of a man who made baseball his life's passion.

Dougherty spent countless hours going through historical archives, particularly the dusty, printed pages of 120-year-old editions of the Batavia Daily News.

He also draws on his own recollections from a his youngest days playing sandlot ball and in the park leagues of Batavia.

There was baseball in Batavia in the 19th Century, with a short-lived professional team setting up camp in town in 1897, but it would be in the following decade that the game began to flourish locally.

Every town had a team and rivalries were fierce, especially between Batavia and Le Roy. Dougherty covers some of the scraps between these teams.

In 1939, the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York (PONY) League was founded in Batavia, with one of the original franchises set up in a new ballpark at MacArthur Park (the present site of Dwyer Stadium). 

Even with the arrival of a professional team affiliated with a major league club, and into the 1960s, semi-pro teams flourished throughout Genesee County.

Dougherty talks about more than just the teams and the games. He gets into the personalities and biographies of some the players who were from here or just passed through.

Among them, Joe Dailey, whom Dougherty admits becoming obsessed with.

"As you start picking out stuff, you can't wait to see where they lived, who they knew, where they died," Dougherty said, but Dailey was a particularly perplexing subject.

He died at age 37, and even though he came from a prominent local family, the Daily News gave his death notice a scant four lines. Dougherty had a heck of a time finding out more about him.

"It seemed like somebody was out there hiding everything," Dougherty said. "Then when I find something, I'm like, 'wow.' He led a short life, but it certainly was interesting."

Dailey was born in Batavia in 1876. He played on the 1897 professional team and when the team relocated mid-season to Geneva, he initially went with the team, but then didn't finish the season and returned home. He went to work in the family's furniture store and funeral parlor until his death from acute nephritis in 1914.

Dougherty covers quite a bit of the family's history, which is also a part of Batavia's history. An example of how this is more than a baseball book.

We also learn about Maud Nelson, who wasn't from Batavia, but played a bit of ball here. Billed as "champion lady pitcher of the world" at the turn of the century, Nelson barnstormed around the country, playing whatever semi-pro teams were up for the challenge.

In those early days, a bit of important baseball history had a Batavia angle. In 1912, after Ty Cobb was suspended for fighting with a fan, the rest of the Detroit team decided to go on strike.  Replacement players were brought in for one game. Among them was a kid from Batavia who played shortstop, Vincent Maney.

For decades, box scores credited Pat Meany as the shortstop that day, but Dougherty -- who is a member of the Society of American Baseball Research -- was able to gather enough convincing evidence that Maney is now correctly credited as the shortstop in that game.

A resident of Stafford, Dougherty made a career in heating and air conditioning (retiring in 2000), but he's made a lifetime of baseball. He's been secretary/director of the Genesee County Baseball Club (owners of the Muckdogs), is a member of the Rochester Baseball Historical Society and SABR.

Assisting in production of the book were Dougherty's son, Brian, (the publisher), his grandson Christopher (graphic design), Kathy Frank, typesetting, and Kauffman, editor.

The book also covers every big name baseball player who ever came through town, from Warran Spann, who pitched three times against Batavia when he was first starting his career, to Wade Boggs and Robin Young, who each played a few games at MacArthur Park.

In the book you can learn about Gene Baker (the first black manager with a major league-affiliated club) along with local sensations Walter Loos, Dick Kokos, Eddie Howard, Dick Raymond and Jackie Kelley.

In the late 1940s, when Dougherty was a teen, he became part of a serious sandlot ball team, the A.C. Shafters. The team played other sandlot clubs throughout the region and Dougherty devotes a chapter to the team.

There was a time locally when every park had a ball field and every field had a team and fields rarely were without a game.

Kibbe Park once had a ballpark with stands and dugouts. Today, there's just a softball field with a couple of benches. When Dougherty was out at the field Monday, mounds of dirt were piled on the infield. Dougherty just shook his head. "There was a time when that would never happen," he said. "There would be kids out here playing games all day."

Are there ever any games at Kibbe now?

Things started to change in the 1950s. The sandlot teams began to die off. The semi-pro teams started to disappear, too. From the early 1900s until the 1950s, nearly every city or village of any size in Western New York had a minor league baseball team, and as leagues folded, so did the teams.

Dougherty thinks kids today miss something with fewer teams around.

"I made lifelong friends from every step I played," Dougherty said. "Not every kid on every team. Not all nine or 12 or 15, but some guys I played with are still good friends."

The book is available in the front office of the Batavia Muckdogs, the Holland Land Office Museum and at Dougherty Heating on School Street, Batavia.

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.

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.

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