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August 27, 2015 - 5:10am
posted by Billie Owens in harness racing, Batavia Downs, sports.

(Photo of Badlands Hanover with reinsman Jim McNeight courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations:

A patient steer from a veteran driver produced an upset victory in the $9,500 mares Open pace feature at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 26). It was Badlands Hanover (Jim McNeight) who sat last and watched the rest of the field argue position before swooping in to claim the spoils.

There was a traffic jam off the wings when Country Delight (Jack Flanigen) and All About Boyz (Dave McNeight III) went toe-to-toe through a fast 27.3 quarter. Not wanting to join the front-end fray yet locked out of a hole, heavy 1-9 favorite Ugly Betty (Drew Monti) ended up drafting third on the outside the entire time. These positions held firm past the half and three-quarters; that station in 1:26.2.  

As the group left the turn at the top of the stretch, Ugly Betty tried a three-wide tip and Dontch Remember (Ray Fisher Jr.) reached four-high. But wily veteran McNeight, who was saving ground the entire race, stuck to his guns and thus, the pylons, before barreling up the inside the pack to end up best of all with a 1:57.2 victory.

It was the seventh win in 30 starts this year for Badlands Love ($29.40) and the winner’s share pushed her coffers to $52,803 for owners Richard, Randy and Robert Roth. Richard Roth conditions the 4-year-old Badlands Hanover mare.

Driver Shawn McDonough score a natural hat trick winning races six, seven and eight. Jim McNeight, Ron Beback Jr. and Jack Flanigen all tallied doubles.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night (Aug. 28) with the first post set for 6:35.

August 26, 2015 - 5:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, alexander.


It's easy to be optimistic in the preseason, Alexander's Head Coach Tim Sawyer notes during a recent practice at The Field of Dreams while the Trojans sprint and leap and twist and turn and bang into each other during a series of warm-up drills.

Sawyer likes what he sees of his squad, which is inheriting back-to-back successful seasons that gave Alexander shots at sectional titles.

His boys are tough, working hard, have some talent and, most importantly, coalescing as a team.

"We had a tremendous summer," Sawyer said. "We have a really tight team. They like football. They like each other. They care about each other and they want to be the best they can be, so it's exciting."

The squad of 27 includes 11 seniors and 15 juniors. Jared Browne returns as the starting QB, Derrick Busch is at tight end, Connor Roberts at wide receiver, Zach Jasen at fullback and Jake Wozniak at halfback. Sawyer also can stack his lines with Josh Hylkema, Riley Kusmierski, Rick Amico, Sean Bennett, Matt Grover and Brett Nichols, none of whom start the season under 190 pounds.

Hylkema, a junior at 235 pounds, is an interesting case. He only started playing football last season, and has, Sawyer said, fallen in love with the game. 

"He's really changed," Sawyer said. "He's gotten bigger. He understands the game better."

But as Sawyer surveys the Genesee Region, he sees potential trouble every week. It will be a tough season.

  • Notre Dame: "They were very young last year and they got a ton of players back. They're going to be really tough."
  • Attica: "Always tough. Marchetti (Damian) will be his third year starting at quarterback for them. McCulloch (Hunter) is coming back to the running back spot for them. So Attica is going to be really good."
  • Elba: "Always challenges everybody. They play tough defense."
  • Holley: "Holley is much improved. I know they are. We were in the combine in March and Holley had 13 players there. Nobody better take Holley for granted."
  • Pembroke: "Coach Diminuco (in his second year), the longer you're there and have more continuity, the expectations become more clear. I think Pembroke is going to have a really good line. They were very young last year, but they've got boys who can play."

"That's the neat thing," Sawyer said. "I think overall, the strength of the league this year means on any given week, you're going to get a challenge."

That said, Sawyer added, "We've got high expectations."

"We were in sectional finals two years ago and semi-finals last year and we want to get back and win a sectional title," Sawyer said. "You can do that without winning the GR, but we'd like to do both. That's our ultimate goal, be GR champs again and win a sectional title.

"The kids have been working hard for it," Sawyer added. "It's in our sights. I've had groups in the past that will, you know, that will rattle off these goals, but they haven't acted up to it by their work ethic, but this group has been working hard. If that's what they want to do, I think we've got a shot at it, but you better be prepared to play every week in the GR."












August 24, 2015 - 12:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Wiener Dog Race, Batavia Downs, sports.


Press release from Batavia Downs

The third time racing in the annual Batavia Downs Wiener Dog races sponsored by Genesee Feeds was the charm for Heidi Kaiser’s dachshund “Piglet." He cruised to a comfortable victory defeating nine other fleet-footed wiener dogs in the champion final.

Ten elimination heats were conducted to determine the final field.

Sarah Farley’s “Ruby” rallied on the far outside to out finish Adrienne Pender’s “Pablo” for second. "Pablo” was the most impressive heat winner and appeared to be the dachshund to beat.

The owners of top three finishers all received gaming free and Clubhouse buffets. All participants received a doggy bag from Genesee Feeds. 

The beautiful day included a first time ever visit by harness ambassador Sydney Weaver. The 15-year-old, known to everyone in North American harness racing, and her parents Lisa and Don Weaver were special guests of Batavia Downs.

Attendance for the dog races, the final piece of Fun Family Day was estimated at 3,200.

Photos by Howard Owens.




In the fourth race, the wiener dog "Wienie," owned by Debbie Odrobina and who relied on a wheeled cart for its hindquarters, was attacked by another competitor. The dogs were separated and put back in the race, but the other dog turned on "Wienie" again. "Wienie" was allowed to run again in a subsequent race, and was a clear crowd favorite, but he got a slow start the second time around and ambled up the track.






August 24, 2015 - 12:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, notre dame girls soccer team, sports.

(Reader submitted photo.)

Batavia Police Officer Kevin DeFelice was all smiles Sunday when he stopped by the parking lot of Batavia's Original on East Main Street to show his support of the Notre Dame Girls Soccer Team. They held a car wash; their goal is to raise $1,000 for team warm-up clothes and bags.

August 24, 2015 - 9:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Eugene Jankowski Jr, sports, shooting.


Press release:

Eugene Jankowski Jr. finished the 2015 3 Gun Nation Semi Pro season ranked 18th in the country after a strong performance at the 2015 3 Gun Nation Eastern Regional held Aug. 1st at Peacemaker National Training Center, Gerrardstown, W.Va. Finishing in the top 25 nationally, earned Jankowski an invitation to the 3 Gun Nation 2015 National match & Pro Qualifier.

3 Gun Nation Nationals & Pro Qualifier is an invite-only, major national match, with slots earned based on 3 Gun Nation Member participation and merit. Presented by Remington Outdoor Company, the match will be held at the U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa, Okla., this October.

The 3 Gun Nation Nationals will be held in conjunction with the televised 3GN Pro and Lady Pro Series Championships. 3 Gun is a shooting sport requiring the use of a modern rifle, shotgun and pistol interchangeably during each stage of fire.

August 23, 2015 - 12:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Barn Doll with reinsman Jeff Gregory.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Barn Doll (Conway Hall-Headintheclouds) lived up to her hype as she toyed with the field in her division of the $120,400 New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) for 3-year-old trotting fillies at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Aug. 22)

As Ray Schnittker flew off the gate with Waiting Room to take an early three-length lead, Jeff Gregory floated Barn Doll out before settling in fourth. As the pack entered the clubhouse turn, Gregory started his outside march with the filly and quickly found himself sitting second outside of the leader at the three-quarter pole in 1:28.3.

Then halfway through the final turn, strategy came into play. Schnittker popped the earplugs looking to pull away while Gregory held his filly firm, making sure she got through that turn without issue. As the pair hit the top of the stretch, Barn Doll became explosive with trot and left the rest behind like they were tied to a post.

Barn Doll ($2.10) was a five-length winner in 1:57.3, which was only one-fifth second shy of the track record for this gait and sex. It was the ninth win in 11 starts for the top NYSS point-earning trotting filly and raised her 2015 earnings to $311,520.

After the race, Gregory commented “She just loves to pass horses down the lane. The filly is just a pleasure drive.”

Barn Doll is owned by Steve and Nancy Pratt and Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stable. Steve Pratt also trains the horse.

Jewels in Hock with reinsman Chris Lems.

In the other division, Jewels In Hock (Credit Winner-Jewels Galore) proved to be much the best even though she was tested early.

Chris Lems put Jewels In Hock took and held the point immediately, until Nunkeri (Ray Fisher Jr.) motored up the outside to challenge and then take the lead at the quarter. But with the tepid :30 clocking, Lems pulled to retake the front and did so without issue. From there the race was pretty much over.

Lems line-drove the filly to a 1:00.2 half and 1:29.4 three-quarters before letting her out a notch and trotting away from the field to win by two in 1:58.4.

“She just does it so easy,” Lems said. “She trotted real strong to the wire. She will definitely be a factor in the finals in a couple of weeks.”

It was the eighth win in 15 starts (and five out of her last 6) for Jewels In Hock ($3.10) who saw her 2015 earnings inflate to $220,450 for Ken Jacobs’ KJ Stable and trainer Linda Toscano.

There were also two $15,000 NYSS Excelsior Series A races on the card Saturday.

The first was won by Allerage Belle (Conway Hall-Bourbon Belle) in 2:00. The filly was driven by John Cummings Jr. for trainer Megan Wilson. Allerage Belle ($11.80) is owned by Alan Hainsworth.

The second division went to High Rise (Conway Hall-RC Biscuit) in 1:58.4. Chris Lems drove High Rise ($2.60) for trainer George Ducharme and owner Ray Campbell Jr.

The Downs $9,500 overnight pacing feature was won by Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) in 1:53.4 in one of the most exciting finishes this track has seen in some time.

After getting away last and remaining there passed five-eighths, Caprio took full advantage of his rail ride as the field fanned four-deep at the three-quarter pole. Now only three lengths off the lead and with a wall of horses in front of him, Fireyourguns was tipped widest off all; five-deep, and he had a head of steam to back him up. At the top of the lane, Fireyourguns forced his will on the field and pulled away to a one-length victory.

It was the ninth win in 13 starts this year for Fireyourguns ($18.60) who is owned by Jennifer and Robert Lowe and Terry McClory, who also trains the 6-year-old son of American Ideal.  

Visiting drivers Jeff Gregory and Chris Lems both scored driving doubles on the card.

Racing resumes Sunday afternoon at Batavia Downs with a 1:15 post time.

(Photos courtesy of Paul White.)

August 21, 2015 - 4:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Notre Dame, football, sports.


Any season that Notre Dame doesn't make sectionals might seem like a disappointing year, but Head Coach Rick Mancuso doesn't look on 2014 that way at all for his squad.

"Disappointing? No. We were building all they way through the season and I thought we got better every week," Mancuso said. "I think we're just going to take from last year, where we built to, and keep building going forward here."

All but two of last year's starters are returning this year, and from the looks of things the 2015 team is bigger and stronger.

"We have lot more experience," Mancuso said. "It makes it a lot easier, what we're trying to go through, what we're trying to teach them and we don't have to go over a lot of things. We're a lot sharper. We're fine-tuning more than coaching from the base up."

Key returners include CJ Suozzi at tight end, Ethan Osborne at full back, and half-back duties will be split between Peter Daversa and Jack Sutherland. Mancuso has yet to name his starting QB.

"We have a great group of kids," Mancuso said. "Our linemen look great. They've spent a lot of time in weight room since November and starting to show. I
really think our conditioning is probably the best we've seen in the long time."

It will take a record of 5-2, maybe even 6-1 for a spot in the post-season. It will be a week-by-week, game-by-game effort to get there, Mancuso said, but he seems to like his team's chances.








August 21, 2015 - 11:24am
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

(Photo of Barn Doll courtesy of Steve Roth.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Two of the five richest 3-year-old trotting fillies in North America, that also just happen to be the top point-getters and money earners in the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for their sex and gait this year, will be in town on Saturday (Aug. 22) to compete for the $120,400 up for grabs at Batavia Downs.

Barn Doll (Conway Hall-Headintheclouds) currently ranks third for money earned in 2015 behind only Mission Brief (who finished second in the Hambletonian) and Wild Honey. She also ranks third for most wins by her sex and gait.

Barn Doll has four wins and two seconds in the state series along with wins in both the elimination and final of the $248,275 Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs in June where she trotted back to back 1:52.1 miles. Jeff Gregory, who grew up just a short drive from Batavia, comes home to steer the classy filly that will start from post five as the morning line 4-5 favorite for trainer Stave Pratt.

In the other division, Jewels In Hock (Credit Winner-Jewels Galore) is fifth in North America in earnings for her sex and gait and second behind Barn Doll in the state for points and banked winnings.

Jewels In Hock comes in on a roll, winning four out of her last five starts, including three NYSS events. She has a seasonal mark of 1:53.3 earlier this year at the Meadowlands and has earned $190,350 on the strength of her seven victories. Chris Lems is in the bike this week for trainer Linda Toscano and will team the filly from post two as the handicapper’s choice at 7-5.

The two divisions are programmed as races three and four. There are also two divisions of the NYSS Excelsior series carded as race one and two. These events go for $15,000 each.

Batavia Downs overnight featured Open pace has three of the top side-wheelers in Upstate New York going head to head for the $9,500 purse.

JK Panache ships in from Tioga Downs where he just scored a three-length, 1:50.3 win. He has also been victorious in five of his last six outings. His seasonal and lifetime mark of 1:47.3 was taken at Vernon Downs just last month.

Fireyourguns has eight wins this year at Tioga, Vernon and Buffalo, but has yet to hit the line first at Batavia. Like JK Panache, he too set a lifetime best of 1:47.3 at Vernon Downs in June and figures to be a major player in this race.

Cobble Beach won this race last week in a sparkling 1:52.1 and is a winner of three out of his last four races. His gate speed gives him a definite advantage here as he is in top form right now and working on a career best year.

Post time for the first race is 6:35 p.m.

August 20, 2015 - 1:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Tioga Downs invader, Mach It A Par, tried to extend her winning streak at Batavia Downs last week but fell under the weather and was scratched. That only delayed the inevitable as she bounced back with a vengeance this week in the $9,500 mares Open feature pace on Wednesday night (Aug. 19).

Three horses left as the seventh race began. Eyemajet (Shawn Gray) and Ugly Betty (Drew Monti) both went for the front but not without an argument from Badlands Love (Jim McNeight). When the dust settled, Ugly Betty took her regular spot on top in :28 flat putting Eyemajet in the pocket. The field then stayed in single file to the half in :58.4 before the outer flow began.

Past five-eights, Country Delight (Jack Flanigen) pulled first-over and enticed Mach it A Par (John Cummings Jr.) to leave last place and follow. At that point, Ugly Betty picked up the pace and widened her leader's gap to two-lengths at the 1:28.1 three-quarter pole. When Country Delight stalled, Cummings Jr. swung Mach It A Par three-wide and paced by everyone to win by a length in 1:56.2. The mare hoofed her last quarter in :27.2 over a track rated as “good."

It was the ninth win in 16 starts this year for Mach It A Par ($3.60) including five in a row and seven out of her last eight. The 5-year-old daughter of Mach Three has now amassed $60,090 in 2015 earnings for owner Dan Clements. The winner is trained by Renaldo Morales III.

Drivers John Cummings Jr. and Drew Monti both scored driving triples on the night with Ray Fisher Jr. nabbing a double.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday night with post time at 6:35.

August 20, 2015 - 9:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, le roy youth football, sports, Home Depot.


Employees of Home Depot engaged in a community project yesterday in Le Roy, replacing the roof, painting and making other repairs to the storage shed used by Le Roy Youth Football at Bunnell Park. TeamDepot is funded by the Home Depot Foundation and is dedicated to using Home Depot resources to help local communities.

Pictured are Chris Hodges (top photo), Eva Hamers and Zach Fay.


August 19, 2015 - 9:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, football, le roy hs, sports.


This truism is too apropos not to use: There are changes afoot in Le Roy.

The departure of legendary Head Coach Brian Moran after 26 years at the helm is well documented. This year, longtime assistant Brian Herdlein takes over the program. Gone also is Anthony Paladino, after 30 years. The new defensive coordinator is Peter Greene, who served for eight years as an assistant with the JV squad. And despite 16 returning seniors, Le Roy is turning to new talent at skilled positions, including QB, where junior Josh Laurie takes over for Mike McMullen.

The big surprise, though, comes with blue fingernail polish and a ponytail. Mary Purdy will become the school's first girl to play varsity football.

Purdy decided to forego soccer this year and so she was encouraged by football staff and players to try out for kicker.

"We're not trying ot make history," Herdlein said. "It was a situation where she was playing a different sport before. She didn't want to do that this year and she approached us about playing football and kicking for us. We had her come out. We had her kicking some footballs. The first day I show up, I see her kicking 35-yard field goals no problem. So of course, for me, I think that's a weapon, so to me I don't look at her differently than anything. She comes out, she does everything everyone one else is doing on the field. She'll go through the drills with us and then she'll do her kicking."

Purdy would also like to downplay any talk of her blazing a new trail. She's more focused on helping her team win and having fun playing football.

"I was hoping no one would draw so much attention to it," Purdy said. "I'm just happy to present my skill set wherever it's needed, but I guess it's kind of cool to be the first female to come through the area and play football."

Mostly, Herdlein is preaching continuity. He's not concentrating on the changes, just on the same values that has made Oatkan Knight football successful for decades: hard work, discipline and preparation.

"For me, it's just a title change," Herdlein said. "The rest of the staff has been here a long time. They know what they're doing. The kids know all of us. It's not that big of a change."

Herdlein will continue as offensive coordinator, a role he held in recent years under Moran, so the schemes won't change much.

"I'm not reinventing the wheel," Herdlein said. "They've been very successful here, so it's not like I'm the person who is going to come in and say, 'you haven't done it right before.' "

Laurie does bring a different skill set to the offense than McMullen. Herdlein described him as more mobile, so look for him to scramble more, run more.

"He's a kid who's very mature," Herdlein said. "He plays a lot of travel baseball on an elite team, so he's had that pressure situation before. He's ready to take the job."

Offensive linemen Ben Carmichael and Dave Englerth say they like what they see so far out of their new coach and their teammates.

"I'm very excited," Carmichael said. "I think we have a good team. I think we have a lot of new guys coming up who have a lot of talent. Our line especially is stacked and I think we're going to do very well this year."

Herdlein has put an additional emphasis on conditioning, which Englerth said will payoff for the team.

"I think we can make it to sectionals," Englerth said. "I think we have the ability."

With only 29 players, Herdlein said conditioning is critical for his team.

"We need to make sure the guys we have can last for four quarters of a football game," Herdlein said.

Among the players he looking to provide leadership are Nick Egling and Ryan Boyce.

Egling moves into the fullback position and Boyce, the son of a former Knight's QB, David Boyce, will be a receiver, free safety and long snapper.

"Nick will definitely be a force for us this year," Herdlein said. "We're going to be giving him the ball a lot. And Ryan has been around since he was a small boy. He knows the program. He is definitely going to step into a leadership role."

A year of changes, yes, but the expectations remain the same: Work hard, be tough, play to win.







August 18, 2015 - 1:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, sports, football.


There's a fine line between arrogance and cockiness. Confidence can breed complacency. Desire can succumb to expectations that lead to a catacomb of missed opportunities. A season can unravel in the difference between resolve, determination and grit versus just showing up and settling for an "I tried" shrug and a "pass the Gatorade." 

It's that difference Batavia Blue Devils Head Coach Brennan Briggs must negotiate as he heads into the 2015 season leading a team that a year ago, by all accounts, shouldn't have won a sectional title but did, and now is stocked with talented, seasoned seniors who are talking about a repeat on the first day of practice.

"That's going to be biggest battle I'm going to be fighting this season is telling these guys the 2015 football team hasn't won a single game yet together," Briggs said. "Last year, yes, we won a championship, but we were fortunate. We had 24 kids. We stayed healthy. We had zero injuries. We caught quite a few breaks and we made some big plays when we needed to. Nothing is guaranteed. It's very, very difficult to win a back-to-back championship, so honestly I don't like that they're talking about championships or anything like that."

The Blue Devils start pre-season camp with 31 players, and 18 of them are seniors. Some of them are stars if not solid contributors. Greg Mruczek is back at QB. He'll be joined offensively by Trevor Sherwood, Malachi Chenault, Adonis Davis, Anthony Gallo, Dominick Mogavero and Noah Dobbertin.

The depth and versatility is noticeable to the players and they can't help but talk of a repeat.

"We're ready to step back up," Mogavero said. "I feel like the whole team is ready to step up its game."

Gallo agrees.

"We're definitely after another championship," Gallo said. "I feel like we're all ready for it. I feel like that's everybody's goal. We want to win and we just want to get back where we were last year."

Briggs wants to see his players focus on getting better every day. Every day, they play against a faceless opponent on their own internal clock and only they know the score, but the outcome of those matches will determine what happens on Friday nights.

While Briggs wants to tap down the championship talk, he also gets that he's dealing with a group of confident kids, and it was confidence that carried this team from a tough opening loss in 2014 against Livonia through big wins to close out the season and bring Batavia its first sectional title in football since 1991.

Briggs calls it "swag," a characteristic the coach talked about as the wins began to pile up last season.

"I do appreciate that they do have a little bit of swag to them, I guess you could call it that, and it is good, because as we found out last year, we were in some tight games toward the end and that kind of pushed us though," Briggs said. "They had confidence that they could get the job done. I think with all of their off-season work and the commitment they've put into the program, and the buy-in, that does help with every single game, day-in-and-day-out, to know that we have what it takes to win a championship, but saying it and feeling it is a little bit different than going out and doing it."

At the end of Monday's workout, Briggs had a straightforward message for his team: "You have a target on your backs."

If the 2014 team was one that came into the season just hunting for a few extra wins, it's now the team to beat for every local gridiron warrior in helmets and pads.

"Nobody is going to give you anything - nobody," Briggs said. "Nobody is going to say, 'Ah, we're playing Batavia, we're going to back down.' Everybody who plays us is going to want to beat us because it might make their season. That might be it. On their calendars, there might be a star, 'We've got a shot to prove something. We've got a shot to beat Batavia. They think they're on top right now. We're going to go out and show everybody else that we're better than them.' "

But the players do think they're better, maybe not yet better than University Prep, better than Wilson, better than Penn Yan and better than Geneva, but they believe they're better than last year, and that's the team that marched through that championship season with a lot of swag.

"Really, I expect to win another championship," Wilson said. 

His job, as he sees it, is to help keep his teammates focused on that goal and fired up for every minute of every practice, because that's what wins games.

"The seniors want to make it happen again, so there's a lot of pressure to do it again," Davis said.

There's peer pressure, then there are community expectations, something Mruczek acknowledges. 

"This community has a lot of expectations," Mruczek said. "With me being the senior quarter people think I need to step up as a leader and I've been trying to do that more; lead this team in the right direction to win another championship. My goal is to put in another solid season, do my 1/11th on the offensive side of the ball and lead this team to another championship."

Briggs thinks Mruczek is ready for the challenge. He isn't a player, the coach said, who worries about his own stats. He gets ready for each game, each play, and knows what his role his.

"He knows how to keep a level head on his shoulders," Briggs said. "I've never questioned his competitive edge or how hard he works, so I'm not too worried about anything like that. He knows what his job is -- go out there and manage the game and be a leader, and hopefully make some big plays when he needs to."

If all eyes are on him as the senior QB, Mruczek is fine with that role, he said.

"I like the pressure," Mruczek said. "I'm confident in this team. We've got a lot of guys with a lot of confidence. I don't really feel any pressure right now. I'm out here having fun my senior year."









August 16, 2015 - 11:29am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Cobble Beach with reinsman John Cummings Jr. / Photo courtesy of Paul White)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

John Cummings Jr. bought a ticket to ride and he didn’t care while winning the $9,500 Open pace feature with Cobble Beach ($6.80) at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Aug. 15).

Cobble Beach flew off the wings and took the top before the quarter while post time favorite, Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) took to the wood. After the leader passed the quarter in 27.1, Caprio wasted no time getting Fireyourguns in gear as he moved him to the outside in pursuit. Although it seemed like a good move in theory, the exercise was futile because there was no catching Cobble Beach tonight.

Cummings Jr. had the best view of the proceedings as his charge flew by the half in 55.3 and three-quarters in 1:23.2. Then he raised the lines, laid back in the bike and with a swish of the whip opened up four and was looking for more. The pair then proceeded to pace away to an impressive 1:52.1 win.

James Clouser Jr. owns and trains the 5-year-old altered son of Artiscape and his evenings efforts increased the horse’s annual earnings to $51,440.

Drivers scoring multiple victories on the card included Kevin Cummings and Dave McNeight III with three and Jim McNeight with two. Trainer Dave McNeight also registered a double.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Sunday (Aug. 16) with a matinee card starting at 1:15 p.m.

August 15, 2015 - 12:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Lutetium and reinsman Kevin Cummings; photo courtesy of Paul White)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

He’s three-for-three at the current meet and continues to win at will. Lutetium wired his foes on Friday night (Aug. 14) in the $10,000 Open trot feature at Batavia Downs.

Once again leaving from the widest post in the draw (7), Lutetium (Kevin Cummings) made quick work of taking the lead before setting-down for the mile. However this week his main rival BZ Glide (Mike Caprio) decided to leave as well and tucked in third for the trip.

The field was led to a soft half in: 58 when the tempo picked up on the backside. Lutetium tripped the three-quarters in 1:26.3 with BZ Glide on the outside, closing in for the chase. As the race hit the top of the stretch, Lutetium’s 2-length advantage was dwindling and continued to do so as the sparring pair drove to the wire. But when they hit, the 8-year-old gelded son of Credit Winner mustered just enough to gut out a head victory over the fast closing BZ Glide.

It was the seventh win in 21 starts for Lutetium ($7.60) and pushed his earnings to $48,331 for owner Colleen Girdlestone and trainer Mark Laidlaw.

Five drivers were seeing double on Friday as Kevin Cummings, Shawn Gray, Dave McNeight III, Ray Fisher Jr. and Jim McNeight all scored two wins on the card. Shawn Gray, Jim McNeight and Carl Smith also tallied a pair as trainers.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Aug. 15) with post time set for 6:35 p.m.

August 15, 2015 - 11:13am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in sports, baseball, muckdogs.


The Batavia Muckdogs (22-29) came into Friday night’s rubber game matchup against the Lowell Spinners looking to avoid losing their first series since a July 20 series against Connecticut.

After nearly making a dramatic late-inning comeback in Thursday night’s game, Manager Angel Espada hoped the momentum would carry into Friday night’s game. Unfortunately for Batavia and the now rejuvenated fans, the bats would stay ice cold in route to a 3-0 loss to the Spinners.

“Basically we were flat overall tonight,” Espada said. “It’s just one of those things, we didn’t get much going with the bats.”

Jordan Holloway took the loss in the game but he pitched well enough to keep the Muckdogs within striking distance all night. Holloway only surrendered one run on four hits over six innings of work. He would struggle with his command by walking four.

Lowell scored the one run off Holloway in the fourth inning after a two-out walk to Kyri Washington, a double over Stone Garrett’s head in center by Mitch Gunsolus plated Washington for the Spinners' first run of the game, and really the only run they would need.

Spinners starting pitcher Austin Glorius, shut down the Muckdogs' hitters all night. The right-hander struck out eight Muckdog batters over five innings. He walked two but only allowed one hit.

Enfember Martinez finished up the game for Glorius and was equally as dominant. He struck out three and also only allowed one Muckdog hit.

“It’s hard to win a ball game when you get two hits, you’re not going to win many of those,” Espada said. “We just simply didn’t hit, it’s as simple as that.”

The Spinners added two insurance runs in the seventh inning off of reliever LJ Brewster. Tate Matheny led off the inning with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Jeremy Rivera.

Sean Coyle, who was on a rehab stint from Boston’s Triple-A team, singled to score Matheny. After a Andrew Benintendi walk, Victor Acosta grounded into what should have been been a double play, but the throw from Alex Fernandez to first base was off the mark, allowing Coyle to score and making it 3-0.

The Muckdogs were just unable to manufacture any offense. There was a period from the fifth inning to the ninth inning where both the Spinners' pitchers retired 12 straight Muckdogs and combine to get out 15 of the last 17 batters.

Batavia will have a quick turnaround as they travel to Auburn for a doubleheader on Saturday.

“You hope that their youthfulness is keeping them ready to come and hopefully show up and ready to play tomorrow,” Espada said.

With the loss, Batavia now sits six and a half games back of the wild card spot and will need to win a majority of their remaining games and hope for a lot of help from the rest of the league for any shot at the postseason.

“Of course we want to win a lot of games, but at the end of the day, my biggest job is to develop young players and young talent for the organization,” Espada said.












August 14, 2015 - 8:18am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

Winners of three games in a row and seven of the last 10, the Batavia Muckdogs (22-28) find themselves slowly creeping back into the playoff picture, sitting only four and a half games back of the wild card. On Thursday night they continued their crucial three-game series against the Lowell Spinners (27-25).

In the previous three games, Batavia jumped on its opponent by scoring in the first inning, thus putting pressure on the opposition to score runs. Thursday night would be almost the complete opposite.

Behind All-Star Stone Garrett’s bat, the Muckdogs were able to close a 6-0 Spinner lead to just 7-5 in the ninth inning, while getting the tying run up to bat.

Down 6-0 in the eighth, Travis Brewster led off the inning with single. Garrett then crushed the 1-0 pitch over the green Batavia Youth Football shed for his 10th home run of the year.

After the Spinners were able to get one run back in the top of the ninth, the Muckdogs refused to go away quietly.

Spinner relief pitcher, Taylor Nunez quickly got the first two batters out in the ninth. Alex Fernandez then singled, followed by a ground out to first by Anfernee Seymour that was botched by the first baseman; Brewster was then hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Garrett stepped to the plate and almost instantly was behind 0-2. After fouling off a couple pitches, he got the pitch he liked and drove a long fly ball over the center fielder’s head, clearing the bases and making it 7-5.

“It’s not a seven to five ballgame without Stone Garrett,” Batavia Manager Angel Espada said. “The kid has been having a great season and has been working hard at making adjustments.”

Although their comeback effort came up short, Batavia was not without chances earlier in the game. Altogether they left eight runners on base, included having the bases loaded in the third inning, and were unable to score any runs.

“That’s baseball, the team that takes advantage of their opportunities and you don’t have to do a whole lot,” Espada said. “You just have to get a base hit here and there and that’s what they did [Spinners].”

The Spinners were able to plate two runs off of Batavia starter Justin Jacome, one in the second and one in the third inning. Jacome only pitched three innings, giving up the two runs on three hits and striking out two.

Nestor Bautista relieved Jacome and was not his usual self -- the one who got him voted into the All-Star game.

“The kid [Bautista] has been so good all year and he just didn’t have it today,” Espada said. “You couldn’t get it done but he battled and competed, but hopefully he can put this one behind him.”

The Spinners got to Bautista in the sixth inning when Josh Ockimey and Tate Matheny, the son of the St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny, both connected on two-out singles. John Nunez then doubled to score both runners and push their lead to 4-0.

Lowell was again able to plate two runs in the seventh inning off of Bautista after a Chad De La Guerra broken-bat bloop single and a Andrew Benintendi -- the Boston Red Sox first-round draft pick and seventh overall selection in this years draft out of Arkansas -- infield single put the first two batters of the inning on base.  

Victor Acosta walked to load the bases with no outs. Tucker Tubbs then flew out to second but in an attempt to keep Guerra at third, Taylor Munden’s throw home was off the mark and all the runners moved up a base, scoring Guerra. Ockimey then hit a sacrifice fly to stretch the lead to 6-0.

Batavia was able to battle back in the eighth and ninth innings but they just ran out of outs.

“Hopefully that carries some momentum into tomorrow’s game,” Espada said.

Garrett finished the game 2-for-3 with two walks. He had the two-run home run and all five RBIs for the Muckdogs. Brewster contributed to the comeback effort by going 3-for-4 with three singles and two-runs scored.

Kyle Keller impressed on the mound going the last two innings in relief, striking out five batters and only allowing one run on two hits.

With the loss the Muckdogs now drop five and a half games out of the wild card spot and also are in danger of losing their first series since the July 21 set against Connecticut. Batavia will look to avoid that on Friday night as they wrap up the series against the Spinners at 7:05.

Like all Friday night games, there will be fireworks following the conclusion of the game. 

August 13, 2015 - 9:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Park, outdoors, sports, hunting.

Press release:

Genesee County Parks Deer Management Permit Applications will be accepted for the Archery Hunting Program at the Genesee County Park & Forest beginning Aug. 17 through Sept. 11.

The Deer Management Program Terms & Conditions packet (including permit) can be downloaded from the Genesee County Parks Web site at or picked up at the Park office located at 153 Cedar St., Batavia, between the hours of 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday thru Friday.

The permit is a non-refundable $25 fee (check or money order due with permit application). Check or money order must be written out to the GENESEE COUNTY TREASURER and must accompany the permit when submitted. A copy of your NYS DEC License is required to be submitted with the permit application also. Applications will not be accepted after Sept. 11.

A lottery drawing will be held on Sept. 15 where permits and vehicle tags will be administered at a mandatory information meeting held on Oct. 3. The Deer Management Program is a four-week program that runs from Oct. 19 through Nov. 15. Genesee County residents, including youth, and disabled veterans will be given priority over nonresident applications.

A Genesee County Parks Deer Management issued permit is required to legally archery or crossbow hunt at the Genesee County Park & Forest. Hunters must possess a valid NYS DEC big game license and respective deer tags before applying for a Genesee County Parks Deer Archery Hunting Permit. Crossbow hunters must ALSO possess a valid muzzleloader hunting privilege as defined by the NYS DEC along with respective deer tags.

The Genesee County Parks Deer Management Permit is specific to the hunter, and may not be used by or assigned to any other individual. Genesee County reserves the right to revoke this permit at any time.

For more information, please visit the Genesee County Parks Web site at or contact Paul Osborn via e-mail at [email protected] or call (585) 344-8508.

August 12, 2015 - 11:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

(Photo of Ugly Betty and reinsman John Cummings Jr. by Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Ugly Betty returned to Western New York after a quick trip to Northfield Park and wasted no time dominating the local mares once again in the $9,500 distaff Open at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Aug. 12).

In her normal style, Ugly Betty (John Cummings Jr.) went right to the front and led by two through quarters of 27.3, 56.4, 1:25.3 before coasting home to a one-length victory in 1:55.3. Eyemajet (Shawn Gray) came up the rail for second and All About Boyz (Dave McNeight III) rallied from last to finish third.

It was the 10th win in 25 start this year for Ugly Betty ($3.80), boosting her pocketbook to $62,505 for owners Margaret Payne and Jennifer Falcone. Rex Clabaugh trains the winner.

Drew Monti scored a driving triple on the night with VT’s Gold Key ($12.00), Climate Hanover ($3.40) and September Hall ($5.70). Kevin Cummings and John Cummings Jr. both registered driving doubles. Trainer Rex Clabaugh also sent two winners postward.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Aug. 14) with post time set at 6:35 p.m.

August 12, 2015 - 11:39pm
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in sports, baseball, muckdogs.

It may have taken them 49 games, but the Batavia Muckdogs (21-28) have finally found the winning formula at home.

Coming into Wednesday night’s opening game of a three-game series against the Lowell Spinners (27-24), the Muckdogs had dropped the opening game in two of the last three series and each lost was not pretty. A 9-1 home loss back on Aug. 3 to State College and an 11-5 lost this past Sunday to Vermont, were outcomes Batavia was looking to avoid.

Batavia, just like it did in both games of the doubleheader on Tuesday, jumped out in front in the very first inning.

After Muckdogs starter, Dillon Peters worked a clean top half of the inning, Batavia plated two runs in the bottom half of the first.

Travis Brewster worked a one-out walk and moved to second on a failed pickoff attempt. All-Star Brad Haynal then doubled home Brewster to score the games first run. Haynal advanced to third on a passed ball and then scored when ball four to Roy Morales was too much for Spinners catcher, Austin Rei to handle, allowing Haynal to score and giving the Muckdogs a quick 2-0 lead.

“It’s always good when you can score early,” Manager Angel Espada said. “It puts pressure on the other team offensively, they have to score runs and manufacture things and it gives you a little bit of breathing room.”

The Muckdogs added a run to make it 3-0 in the fourth inning when Taylor Munden singled, moved to third on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt and later scored when an Anfernee Seymour hard-hit ball went of the pitchers leg, allowing Munden to score and Seymour to end up at second.

“You start winning games and you start seeing your work pay off and your starting to believe,” Espada said.

Dillon Peters started on the mound for Batavia and continued right where Brett Lilek and Scott Squier left off on Tuesday. Peters went a solid five innings, allowing two runs on four hits, two walks and striking out two.

“You attack…they just give us a chance, first to compete and then a chance to win a game and that’s what you want from your pitching staff,” Espada said.

Ryley MacEachern relieved Peters after the fifth inning and while he did strikeout an impressive six batters in three innings, he also allowed two runs on three hits. The runs were the first allowed by a Batavia pitcher in 18 straight innings.

The Spinners were able to tie and take the lead in the seventh inning after Aneudis Peralta reached on an infield single. A bunt single by Jeremy Rivera put two runners on with no outs.

Chad De La Guerra cleared the bases with a standup triple to make the score 4-3. If this was earlier in the year, the Muckdogs would have gone into a hole and wouldn’t have recovered, but now we have this new and improved Muckdog team that believes they can win any game.

When asked what has been the difference between now and earlier in the season, Alex Fernandez had a pretty simple answer. “Wanting it more and playing more together as a team and we all have one goal now and that is to win,” he said.

Fernandez would play a big role in the Muckdogs come back attempt in the eighth inning.

Morales singled to start the inning and a sacrifice bunt by Yuniel Ramirez moved him to second, a pitch hit Erwin Almonte, setting up first and second with one out.

Munden then singled to score Morales, tying the game at 4-4. Fernandez, who came into the at-bat with three strikeouts already in the game, laced a 1-1 pitch into the outfield to score Almonte and take the lead for good.

“I just concentrated on getting my foot down early cause he [Trevor Kelley, the Spinners pitcher] had a lot of movement, he had good stuff so just focusing on getting my foot down,” Fernandez said. “Earlier in the game I was all over the place, so just simplifying the at-bat and everything worked out.”

Batavia would add an insurance run in the same inning after a Seymour walk and a Brewster groundout to score Munden made it 6-4.

Curt Britt pitched a clean ninth inning, giving the Muckdogs their third win in a row and seventh out of the last 10 games.

Munden finished the game 3-for-4 with two-runs scored and a RBI while Morales was 2-for-2 with two walks and a run scored. MacEachern got the win on the mound to improve to 2-0 and Britt got his first save of the year.

“I wasn’t here in the beginning so I don’t know how it was, but since I got here it’s been very good,” Fernandez said.

Batavia will continue their three-game series against Lowell on Thursday, as they look to wrap up a seventh consecutive series win. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. 

August 12, 2015 - 9:19am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, sports, muckdogs.
It was bike giveaway night for the Batavia Lions Club at Dwyer Stadium. The winners were sisters Ashlyn and Veronica (on bike) Reynolds, of Le Roy, and Landon Brown, of Henrietta. Don Milleman, left, chaired the event for Lions and Tony Scalia is club president. (Photo and game photos by Howard Owens.)


Coming into Tuesday night’s doubleheader against the Vermont Lake Monsters (22-26), the Batavia Muckdogs (19-28) had lost two games back-to-back and were on the verge of losing all hope of getting within striking distance of the last wild card spot.

Brett Lilek and Scout Squier, who would combine to start both games of a doubleheader for the second straight home series, were tasked to keep the Muckdogs' slim playoffs hopes alive as Batavia looked to capture their sixth consecutive series win.

Lilek started the first game of the doubleheader and continued right where he left off from his last start. Back on August 5, Lilek pitched five innings; striking out eight while allowing four hits in an eventual Muckdogs win over State College. On Tuesday night, Lilek was equally as impressive, if not better.

“The guys went out there [Lilek and Squier] and pounded the strike zone, threw strikes and kept the game going for us,” Manager Angel Espada said.

Lilek dominated the strike zone all evening and kept the Lake Monster hitters off balance with is off-speed pitches. He was able to retire 15 of the 17 batters he faced in his five innings of work. Lilek recorded seven strikeouts on just 61 pitches thrown. He only allowed one hit in the first inning and walked one other batter.

Lilek got all the run support he would need in the first. All-Star Anfernee Seymour started the game with a walk. He moved to third after Vermont pitcher Kevin Duchene attempted to pickoff Seymour but he took off for second on Duchene’s first move. Chris Iriart, Vermont’s first baseman, then threw the ball into the outfield in an attempt to get Seymour out at second, giving Seymour third base.  

Travis Brewster then singled home Seymour for his eighth RBI of the year. Stone Garrett, also an All-Star, then doubled off the wall to score Brewster. On the attempt to throw Brewster out at home, Garrett tried to take third and was called out. After the play, the umpires got together and pointed to Garrett, who had gone into the dugout, that he was safe and to go back to third. Brad Haynal then grounded out to shortstop to score Garrett, making it 3-0.

“The hard work is paying off and we have been blessed that every time we have had a tough game, the rain out kind of gives us a breather,” Espada said.

The Muckdogs added another run in the fourth inning and two in the fifth inning, but they were just added bonuses. Lilek and Jordan Hillyer combined to throw seven innings of one-hit baseball. Each giving up one walk a piece, in total they only allowed three base runners all game, retiring 12 batters in a row at one point and not allowing a runner to pass second base.

The Muckdogs took game one of the doubleheader with a final score of 6-0. Garrett led the offensive going 2-for-4 with a RBI and two runs scored.

Not to be out done, Squier was just as impressive in game two as Lilek was in game one. Just like he did back on Aug. 5, Squier followed up a quality start from Lilek with one of his own.

Squier, whose only real trouble of the game came in the first inning, was able to shut down the Vermont offense, also pitching five innings.

Trace Loehr led off the game with a single. Steven Pallares then reached on an error by third baseman Angel Reyes. Squier was able to strike out two of the next three batters and get another to fly out to end the inning.

The Muckdogs again jumped on the Lake Monsters right from the start. Alex Fernandez reached on an E5 and Brewster quickly singled. A bad throw into the infield by the center fielder, allowed both runners to move up 90 feet. Garrett worked a walk to load the bases with no outs.

Haynal then grounded into a double play, but Fernandez was able to score to make it 1-0. Roy Morales grounded out to end the inning but not before the Muckdogs got the only run they would need.

“In both games the difference was the first inning,” Espada said. “We got a big inning the first game and we scored the only run in the first inning there.”

Squier settled down after the first inning and retired the next nine of out 10 batters. After his five outstanding innings, All-Star reliever and closer Steve Farnworth came into the game for the six-out save.

Farnworth worked pretty uneventful sixth and seventh innings to earn his 10 save of the year, sealing the 1-0 victory for Batavia and taking the series.

“We have been playing a lot better defense and we are making clutch plays…and that’s the difference right now,” Espada said. “We are pitching okay and besides the game the other day, we have been playing good defense.”

After his win in the first game, Lilek improves to 1-2 while Squier quietly continues to impress with a 4-0 record.

The Muckdogs will welcome the Lowell Spinners, an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, to Dwyer Stadium on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. for an extremely important series in terms of the wild card race. Lowell currently sits atop the wild card standings and with a strong showing in the three-game series, the Muckdogs could play themselves right back into playoff contention, as they only sit five games back.

Although the importance of the series cannot be denied or overlooked, Espada is not looking ahead.

“I’m not looking that far. I’m just keeping the guys focused on one game at a time and eventually if you do that, things will take care of themselves,” Espada said. “You don’t want to put that pressure on them, they are so young, that they don’t understand and try to do too much.”











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