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July 25, 2015 - 6:43am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in sports, baseball, muckdogs.

The wins have been few and far between for the Batavia Muckdogs thus far in the season, but in front of a near sell-out crowd on Friday night, they were able to finally reach double-digit victories.

The Muckdogs jumped on the visiting Tri-City Valleycats (18-15) right from the beginning of the game, scoring in each of the first four innings.

Like he has all season, Anfernee Seymour sparked the offense with his lightning-quick speed. Seymour struck out to start the game but the ball got away from the catcher, allowing Seymour to take first.

Seymour then stole second for his 15th stolen base of the year, tying the Valleycats’ own Johnny Sewald for the league lead.

Hot hitting Brad Haynal then singled home Seymour for his 15th RBI of the season.

“They have been competing and trying their best,” Manager Angel Espada said. “We can’t forget these guys did the toughest thing to do in baseball and they did it, which is to throw a perfect game.”

Batavia continued it's hot start in the second when Taylor Munden singled and then two passed balls allowed him to advance to third. Cameron Newell, who came into the game hitting an abysmal .091, tripled to score Munden and make it 2-0.

Travis Brewster was able to plate Newell with a sacrifice fly to short leftfield.

Coming into the game, Valleycat starting pitcher Dean Deetz led the league with a 4-1 record on the mound, but Batavia seemed to have his number all night.

Alexander Fernandez belted a solo home run in the third inning to make it 4-0.

“We took advantage of their mistakes and that’s what you have to do as hitters,” Espada said. “If they make a mistake you have to make them pay.”

The offensive barrage continued in the fourth when Newell was hit by a pitch and moved to second, thanks to a gorgeous sacrifice bunt by Travis Brewster. Lead-off man Seymour then smacked a single to score Newell, but the Muckdogs were not done.

After a strike out by Fernandez, Stone Garrett connected on his league leading sixth home run of the season.

“I’ve just been not pressing more and telling myself I have more time to see the ball,” Garret said. “When you’re pressing you’re jumping out at everything and swinging at balls in the dirt.”

If you have followed any part of the Muckdogs' season, you know that they have struggled to put a complete game together and Friday night was no exception.

After getting a run back in the fifth, Tri-City was able to score four runs in the seventh-inning to pull within just two runs of Batavia.

Fourth-round pick out of the University of Oklahoma, Anthony Hemelyn started the inning with a single and was quickly plated by a Pat Porter RBI triple. Sewald then singled home Porter making it 7-3.

Antonio Nunez walked with one out and then both runners were moved up 90 feet because of a passed ball. Bryan Muniz singled to score Sewald, closing the gap to 7-4.

“We are going to have to earn everything and nothing is going to be given to us,” Espada said. “It’s just one of the seasons.”

After a pitching change, Bobby Wernes grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Nunez and getting the score to 7-5.

Jordan Hillyer was able to get out of the inning without any more damage.

Batavia responded by adding a run the bottom half of the inning after a Garrett double and Haynal single to set up first and third. Munden was able to get the ball far enough out of the infield for a sacrifice fly.

Tri-City was able to get that run back in the eighth to make it 8-6 but that is the closest they would get.

Steve Farnworth worked a perfect ninth inning for his fifth save of the year.

“It feels good to play error-free baseball all nine innings and just get 27 outs and no more,” Garrett said.

Seven of the nine Batavia hitters collected a RBI for the game. Munden went 3-for-3 with two singles, a double and a RBI while Garrett was 2-for-5 with a two-run home run and a double.

Scott Squier got the win on the mound after going a strong five innings. He gave up one run, two hits and struck out three.

“He went out there and competed and found a way to get it done,” Espada said about Squier.

“The last couple games we have been playing clean baseball and who’s to stay we can’t turn this thing around defensively, too,” Espada said. “We still have 40-something games left and it can be done.”

Batavia improves to 10-23 on the season and will look to keep the positive flow going on Saturday night against Tri-City. Game time is slated for 7:05 p.m. 

July 24, 2015 - 12:51pm
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

There is not much left to say about the 2015 Muckdogs (9-22) season other than it has been a huge disappointment, as they lost their fourth straight game Thursday night and dropped their winning percentage to a measly .281 percent on the year.

If you had to choose one game thus far in the season to be a microcosm of the Muckdogs' year, Thursday night’s game against the Connecticut Tigers (15-16) would be at the top of the list.

When watching the team, it is hard to deny that, even though they are in the middle of a historically bad season, they continue to fight for almost all of the game. What has been lacking all year is the inability to put a complete game together.

Coming into the seventh inning of Thursday night’s game, the Muckdogs held a slim 1-0 lead. When Batavia was finally able to get the third out of the inning, they found themselves down 5-1.

Josh Lester, a 13th-round draft pick out of Missouri, started the inning with an 11-pitch at-bat that ended in a walk. AJ Simcox and Tanner Donnels both singled to load the bases.

Will Allen singled, scoring Lester. Shane Zeile doubled off the centerfield wall, scoring both Simcox and Donnels. Victor Padron smashed a hard ground ball up the middle to plate Allen and Zeile, making it 5-1.

“It was a good game until the seventh,” Manager Angel Espada said. “It was one of those days and how the season has been for us.”

After the seventh-inning meltdown, it did not appear things could get much worse, but things did just that in the eighth.

After batting around the order in the seventh, Lester again led off the inning with a walk. Simcox, just like last inning, singled. Donnels followed that up with another single, scoring Lester. Just like a broken record, Allen singled to make it 7-1.

Zeile worked a walk to load the bases with still no outs, against Muckdogs left-hander Justin Langley. Jose Zambrano continued the trend by singling home Donnels. Langley’s night was over after just two-thirds of an inning pitched.

Ayron Adames did not weather much better in relief. Adames would allow three straight RBI singles to Padron, Cam Gibson and Brett Pirtle. When all was said and done, the Tigers had sent 12 batters to the plate in the eighth, scoring six runs on seven hits.

The Muckdogs were able to push across one run in the bottom of the eighth but it was far too little, way too late.

The one bright spot of the game was the fact that the Muckdogs did not commit an error in the field. Coming into Thursday night’s game the Muckdogs had a committed a league high 63 fielding errors in only 31 games. That is good for 12 more than the next team, which has 51.

In their three-game series against the Tigers, the Muckdogs were outscored 20-9.

The Muckdogs will welcome the Tri-City Valleycats, an affiliate of the Houston Astros, to Dwyer stadium for a three-game series starting on Friday night at 7:05.

Fireworks will follow the conclusion of the game. 

July 23, 2015 - 3:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, baseball, Team New Era.

Team New Era will hold its 2016 Summer Baseball Tryouts for players ages 9 thru 17 Aug. 3rd thru 16th. For specific dates, times, locations and to register, see www.teamnewerabaseball.com. For more information see www.teamnewerabaseball.com or contact Rich Wozniak at 716-681-3001.

July 23, 2015 - 6:04am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

When a baseball team is struggling, you look to do the small things right and hope for a bounce, here or there, to go your way. The 2015 Muckdogs are 32 games into their season and are still looking for that bounce.

Coming into Wednesday night’s game against the Detroit Tiger affiliate, Connecticut Tigers (14-16), the Muckdogs (9-21) had lost five of their last six games and find themselves 11.5 games out of first place.

Gabriel Castellanos, the pitcher who started the perfect game back on June 24, started on the mound for Batavia in an attempt to end their most recent losing streak.

Unfortunately, Castellanos was unable to find the magic he had back on June 24.

He walked lead-off hitter Victor Padron to begin the game, followed by a single by AJ Simcox. With the runners in motion, Corey Baptist was able to smack a groundball where the third baseman should have been, scoring Padron and moving Simcox to third.

Tanner Donnels scored the Tigers second run with a sacrifice fly. Baptist moved to second on a balk by Castellanos. After a walk by Pat Mackenzie, Steven Fuentes singled making it 3-0 before the Muckdogs could catch their breath.

Connecticut added one run in both the second and third innings, ending Castellanos night after just three innings.

“Like I always tell you, they are young kids,” Manager Angel Espada said. “If they were ready to go to the next level, they would be in a higher level.”

The Muckdogs were able to get one back in the third when Galvi Moscat doubled and was moved to third on a Giovanny Alfonzo swinging bunt. Taylor Munden plated Moscat after he grounded out to shortstop.

“They have plenty of fight,” Espada said, and fight is exactly what Batavia did in the fourth inning.

Down 5-1, the Muckdogs scrapped together and plated five runs in the inning and to take the lead.

Stone Garrett started the inning with a single and was quickly scored by a Brad Haynal double that landed just inside the right field foul line. Roy Morales then doubled just inside the third base line, scoring Haynal and making it 5-3.

Morales moved to third on an Eric Fisher groundout. After Blake Anderson was hit by a pitch, Moscat hit a line drive that kicked off the right-fielder’s legs and allowed both Morales and Anderson to score, tying the game at 5-5.

Batavia took their only lead of the night when Moscat scored via an Alfonzo sacrifice fly.

Cam Gibson, the Tigers' designated hitter, tied the game up in sixth inning with his third home run of the season. Connecticut would take the lead for good in the eighth after Muckdog reliever Steve Farnworth walked Gibson. He stole second and then scored on a throwing error by Munden at shortstop.

The Muckdogs loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth with only one out, but were again unable to find that one bounce they have been looking for and could not push across any runs.

“That’s the way things are going for us,” Espada said. “When things are not going your way, both those things are going to happen.”

Jake Shull came in for the save in the ninth and retired the Muckdogs in order.

“The most important thing is we gotta stay positive and take one day at a time,” Espada said.

Moscat finished the game 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored. Haynal was also 2-for-4 with a double.

Drew Smith improves to 2-0 for the Tigers while Shull picked up his third save.

The Muckdogs return to Dwyer Stadium tomorrow night at 7:05 in hopes of avoiding the sweep. 

July 22, 2015 - 6:05am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

After returning home from their six-game road trip, the Muckdogs (9-20) lost the opening game of the series and the team's fifth out of the last six games to the visiting Connecticut Tigers (13-16).

On a night where each team was only able to muster six hits apiece, walks and errors were again the downfall for the Muckdogs.

Jordan Holloway and Nestor Bautista combined to walk 10 batters.

“We have to realize we are not in the Major Leagues and there’s a reason why they are all here,” Manager Angel Espada said.

Holloway got the start on the mound and although he did walk six batters in his four innings of work, he pitched much better than his previous starts.

“The kid (Holloway) as you see has a big arm but at the end of the day he is a 19-year-old that needs to learn how to pitch,” Espada said.

The only two runs scored by the Tigers came in the fourth inning after Tanner Donnels reached on an error and Holloway then walked Pat Mackenzie to put two runners on with no outs.

Holloway would strike out Joey Havrilak, but run into trouble when Steven Fuentes tripled to center field, scoring both Donnels and Mackenzie.

Holloway’s night would be over after the fourth inning; he was replaced by Bautista.

Batavia's lone run came in the third inning when Anfernee Seymour singled and later scored on a Alexander Fernandez double.

“You just have to stay positive and trust the process,” Espada said. “You gotta keep working, there is no way around it.”

Matt Hall started on the hill for the Tigers and went a solid three innings before being relieved by Chase Edwards who only allowed two hits over his five innings of work.

The one bright spot for the Muckdogs, not only tonight, but the whole season is the play of Bautista. Coming into Tuesday’s game, he had a record of 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in 22.2 innings pitched.

On Tuesday he pitched five innings of shutout baseball. He scattered four hits and four walks while striking out five.

Gerson Moreno came in the ninth for the Tigers and worked a perfect ninth inning, picking up his second save of the year.

“Do you want to win games? Yes, you have to trust the process…what is better for these kids,” Espada said. “In five, four years you’ll see some of these kids in the Big Leagues and than you realize how good a job you did.”

The Muckdogs continue their three-game series against the Connecticut Tigers on Wednesday. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m.

July 16, 2015 - 3:32pm
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in muckdogs, baseball, sports.

You wouldn’t know it by their record, but the Batavia Muckdogs (7-16) have been playing much better baseball as of late.

Throughout the season, the Muckdogs have failed to show any sort of consistency. Weather it be poor fielding, pitching or the inability to score runs, the lack of consistency has been the Muckdogs' downfall.

Thursday afternoon, Batavia looked to turn the page and begin a streak of consistent, solid baseball.

Things looked rocky to start the game as Jordan Holloway started where he left off his last start by walking two of the first four batters he faced.

Holloway got out of the jam by getting Jose Pujols to ground into an inning-ending double play.

The 19-year-old again walked the first two batters he saw in the second inning. Unlike in his last start where he allowed those runners to score, Holloway was again able to get out of trouble by getting the next three batters to fly-out to center.

Holloway’s day was over after just the two innings of work. He didn’t allow a hit but walked four and threw 40 pitches.

Ryan Hafner came in relief of Holloway and allowed two runs on three hits. Both batters that scored were either walked or hit by a pitch.

The Muckdogs would cut the Crosscutter lead in half in the fifth inning when Alexander Fernandez belted a towering fly ball over the left-center fence for his first home run of the year.

Batavia tied the game in the seventh when Fernandez would reach on a fielder’s choice. He would steal second and then advance to third on a passed ball. Giovanny Alfonzo walked, which prompted a pitching change for the Crosscutters.

Anfernee Seymour then hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Fernandez and tying the game at 2-2.

Coming into the season much was expected from young catcher Blake Anderson. With a modest batting average of .259, nine RBIs and only one home run, Anderson came into Thursday’s game in a funk.

In the eighth inning all seemed to be forgotten.

Eric Fisher singled to set up Anderson. With two outs and a 0-2 count, Anderson took a healthy swing at the next pitch and drove the Juan Figueroa pitch over the left-field fence for a two-run home run.

“Just do what I needed to do to get the win and get us ahead,” Anderson said about his approach to the crucial eighth inning at-bat.

Steve Farnworth would come into the game in the eighth and pitch two innings of shutout ball, only allowing two hits while collecting the win on the mound.

“Yeah, we started off slow but who says we can’t come back and win 10 or 15 of the next 20,” Anderson said.

Although many might look at their record and think they are a horrible team, over the last couple weeks the Muckdogs have been competitive in almost every game.

The first two games of this series against Williamsport back that up. The Muckdogs are one bad inning away from having taken both games of the series so far.

“We get this thing turned around and play to win every day,” Anderson said.

Batavia travels to Williamsport for a doubleheader tomorrow and then will be in State College for a three-game series before returning to Dwyer Stadium on Tuesday July 21. 

July 16, 2015 - 10:41am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

When you play with fire, you will get burned and that is exactly what the Muckdogs (7-15) did Wednesday night against the league-leading Williamsport Crosscutters (17-6).

Brad Haynal got the Muckdogs on the board in the second when he doubled, moved to third on a bloop single by Eric Fisher and then scored on a Roy Morales RBI single.

The Crosscutters, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, responded in the third with two runs of their own.

Austin Bossart, who came into the game hitting .310, punched a single off Batavia starter Justin Jacome. Grenny Cumana then doubled down the left-field line, setting up second and third for lead-off man Zach Coppola.

Coppola would double, scoring both Bossart and Cumana, making it 2-1.

Batavia added two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning when Anfernee Seymour singled and then moved to third on a beautifully called and executed hit-and-run with Travis Brewster.

Seymour would score on a Stone Garrett groundout and Brewster would later score on a Haynal double.

The lead was short lived for the Muckdogs when in the fourth, Josh Tobias connected on an infield single; Jesus Posso walked followed by a Bossart two-out single scoring Tobias, and tying the game at 3-3.

Jacome walked the next batter to load the bases, ending his night. Nestor Bautsita came in and got Coppola to groundout into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.

The sixth inning is where it all fell apart for the Muckdogs.

William Cuicas tripled to lead off the inning and then scored on a Cumana pop-up just past first base that should have been caught. Cumana was able to move to second on the throw from the outfield to home trying to get Cuicas. 

Coppola then executed a perfect bunt that had the pitcher, second baseman and first baseman for the Muckdogs all converging on it. The ball went under Alfonzo’s glove and Cumana was able to score making it 5-3.

“It’s part of this level and it hurts you,” Manager Angel Espada said. “You can’t hurt yourself defensively, not at anytime and not against the best team in the league right now.”

Although Batavia shot themselves in the foot in the sixth inning, they were still able to tie the game up in seventh, giving themselves a chance to win the game.

A Blake Anderson singled that just got over the outstretched hands of Crosscutter second baseman, Cuicas started off the inning.

Ryan Cranmer then doubled, putting runners in scoring position with no outs. Seymour then got hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Galvi Moscat, who replaced Brewster in sixth, hit a ground ball to third. The third baseman easily got Anderson out at home but in an attempt to double off Moscat at first, the catcher hit Moscat in the leg, allowing Cranmer to score.

Garrett then doubled home Seymour and the game was tied at 5-5.

“The way we have been playing is pretty well, we had that one bad inning there and it cost us the game,” Espada said. “You give a team like this opportunities and they are going to hurt you.”

The Crosscutters would get the deciding run in the top of the ninth inning by way of a solo home run by Jan Hernandez off of Batavia reliever Jordan Hillyer. Hernandez, who had previously struck out in all three of his previous at-bats, launched the 2-1 pitch over the left field fence.

“He threw a slider that caught too much of the plate and you have to give it to Hernandez who put up a good swing with two strikes,” Espada said.

The Muckdogs were set down in order in the bottom of the ninth.

Haynal finished the game 2-for-4 with two doubles and a RBI. Seymour went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Garrett also contributed with two RBIs.

“It’s a little bit hard when you have your best guys going out there and probably one of the best chances to win ball games and you don’t come out on top,” Espada said.

The Muckdogs will have a chance to regroup quickly as they have a unique starting time of 11:05 a.m. on Thursday.

“I think they are young enough that they will bounce back,” Espada said. “Even if you win or lose you have to forget about it, there is nothing you can do about past games.”

Batavia remains in last place with a record of 7-16 while the Crosscutters continue their league dominance with an overall 18-6 record.

July 11, 2015 - 10:31am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

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The Muckdogs (6-12) came into Friday’s game riding a bit of a resurgence, with four wins in five games, and were looking to continue their hot stretch against the Auburn Doubledays (7-11).

Coming off his first win of the season, 19-year-old Jordan Holloway got the start for Batavia and struggled to find the strike zone all night.

The California native would walk four of the first six batters he faced and before he knew it, he was down 2-0.

“It’s a typical 19-year-old pitcher,” Manager Angel Espada said. “He’s trying to work his way through things and figure out the game of baseball.”

Just like in first inning, walks were Holloway’s downfall in the second.

Edwin Lora walked to lead off the inning. He would then steal second and after the throw sailed into centerfield, Lora would end up at third. An Andrew Stevenson groundout to shortstop scored Lora from third making it 3-0.

Holloway’s night would be over after the fourth inning. While he did strike out six and only allowed two hits, he walked six batters and hit another.

“He’s young and his trying to learn how to pitch and these are learning experiences for him,” Espada said.

Nick White came in relief of Holloway in the fifth and allowed seven hits, two walks and three runs over his three innings of work.

Ryan Hafner and Ayron Adames would pitch the final two innings of the game for the Muckdogs. Both pitchers would combine for five hits, three runs and two walks.

When the dust had settled, Batavia pitchers had combined to walk 10 Auburn batters and hit two.

“It’s just one bad game. We have been playing good baseball for the past nine or 10 games and this is just one game,” Espada said.

The only offense of the day for the Muckdogs came in the sixth inning when Giovanny Alfonzo singled with two outs and then moved to second on a passed ball.

Alfonzo then scored Batavia’s lone run on a high hit ball to center by Stone Garrett that was lost in the lights by the Doubledays' centerfielder.

Auburn was able to score three more runs in the top of the ninth in route to a 13-1 victory.

Batavia dropped to 6-13 while Auburn improved to 8-11.

“You just put it behind you and start from zero tomorrow,” Espada said. 

Photos by Howard Owens.

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July 9, 2015 - 8:11am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, muckdogs, sports.

After a rough start to the season, the Muckdogs pitching staff is starting to find their groove as they pitched the Muckdogs to a 4-1 victory on Wednesday night.

The Muckdogs were home to face off against the Auburn Doubledays after taking 2-of-3 from the West Virginia Black Bears over the weekend.

Justin Jacome started for Batavia and threw three quality innings. He struck out four, walked one and only allowed one hit.

Nestor Bautista would come in relief of Jacome in the fourth. Bautista only allowed four hits over four and two-thirds innings pitched. He struck out three.

“Solid job, they pitched to contact and kept them of balance,” Manager Angel Espada said. “They used their stuff really well."

The Muckdogs would plate one run in each of the first three innings in route to their sixth win of the year. 

Giovanny Alfonzo sparked the offense when he singled in the first and was able to get to second base after an overthrow to first base. Hot hitting Brad Haynal would single, scoring Alfonzo from second, making it 1-0.

Batavia would score again in the second when Eric Fisher would triple to lead off the inning.

Left-fielder Brandon Rawe would then single, scoring Fisher from third.

Haynal was once again involved in the action in third inning.

Stone Garrett worked a two-out walk and then stole second. Haynal would then single to score Garrett, making it 3-0 Muckdogs. Batavia would threaten with runners on first and third but Doubleday pitcher, Taylor Hearn was able to get Fisher to fly out to second.

“It’s starting to come around better as a whole team,” Haynal said. “It’s not just one guy doing it, we got everyone through the lineup moving guys.”

The Muckdogs were able to plate another run in the eighth to make the game 4-0.

Garrett would reach base on an error by the third baseman and be moved to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run with Dunbar.

Fisher then hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Garrett.

“Our pitching got better, like we knew it was going to get better, and we are getting some timely hitting,” Espada said. “You put those things together and you should be coming on top."

Auburn was able to break up the shutout in the ninth inning when David Kerian crushed a Steve Farnworth pitch for a one-out single. He would then move to second on a wild pick-off attempt.

Matthew Page then doubled to score Kerian. Farnworth dug deep and ended the threat by striking out Jakson Reetz and Randy Encarnacion to end the game.

Unlike in the beginning of the season, the Muckdogs can count on hitters one through nine instead of just the guys at the top of the lineup.

“It’s hard when only a couple guys are pulling weight,” Haynal said. “Now I think everyone through the lineup is able to do some damage…a lot of people around baseball know hitting is contagious.”

Haynal finished the game 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs. Fisher was also 2-for-3 with a triple, a RBI and a scored run.

Bautista improved his record to 2-1 while Farnworth picked up his third save.

The Muckdogs travel to Auburn today but will be back home on Friday to take on the Doubledays in the series finale.

There will be fireworks following the conclusion of the game.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.   

July 8, 2015 - 8:15am
posted by Daniel Crofts in baseball, Challenger Sports, Special Needs Children.

On Sunday, "Challenger Sports," a joint program of Genesee ARC and the YMCA for physically, intellectually and developmentally disabled kids ages 5 to 21, marked its 10th season with an alumni baseball game at the Little League field in Batavia. Alumni players faced off against alumni coaches and volunteers.

Pictured: alumni volunteers, coaches and players; half of them are in this photo...

...and here is the other half.

Shelley Falitico, director of development at ARC, recalled the program's humble beginnings in 2006.

"When we started, it was 'Challenger Baseball,' " Falitico said. "A local parent expressed interest, and contacted ARC and the YMCA. We started recruiting volunteers, we sent out notices for kids with special needs, and we had 70 kids sign up. When it ended, parents came up to us and asked, 'What's next?' "

Since then, the program has grown to include indoor soccer, tennis, dance and, over the last year, basketball and swimming.

Many of the Challenger alumni, according to Falitico, have gone on to play softball in the Special Olympics.

"They've been learning and playing for 10 years," Falitico said. "I take some pride as the coach, helping them learn the fundamentals of baseball on a real baseball field."

From left, alumni volunteers Eric Houseknecht, Craig Houseknecht, Danielle Hirtzel, Brian Falitico and Mark Houseknecht.

Falitico also expressed great pride in the volunteers who have devoted their time to the players over the last decade.

"When we first started," she said, "we had coaches, but I needed more volunteers to help the kids learn different fundamentals of the game."

For that, she turned to area high schools. After recruiting young volunteers, she provided disability awareness training -- and the rest, as they say, is history.

"They volunteered with us all through high school," Falitico said. "What I found really touching was that when they came home from college in the summer, they would call me and say, 'Are you still doing that baseball program? I want to help.' And when I contacted them about a 10-year alumni game they said, 'Absolutely.' "

Some of these volunteers came from as far as Pennsylvania and Boston to participate on Sunday. One gentleman, according to Falitico, was home for the weekend from South Carolina, stopped by to congratulate the team, and then flew back home.

However great the difference the volunteers have made in the kids' lives, the impact has gone both ways.

"(The volunteers) see kids with a variety of disabilities just wanting to get out there and play the game and have fun," Falitico said. "Their perseverance and dedication taught a lot of them to appreciate what they had, and I've had a couple volunteers say to me that it changed the way they viewed themselves and the world."

Pictured current "Challenger Sports" baseball players, coaches and volunteers; half are in this photo, along with Assemblyman Steve Hawley...

...and here is the other half.

The alumni game was preceded by a regular Challenger game with current players. This game ended with the standard Challenger outcome, which is always a tie.

"(Our goal) is just to make it a fun game where everybody gets a chance," Falitico said. "Everybody gets an at-bat, everybody gets to swing -- no matter how many times -- until they hit the ball. We want the kids to learn good sportsmanship."

However, this did not stop Falitico, who coached the alumni players, from squeezing in a small boast about their 30-7 victory over the alumni volunteers.

"We mercy-ruled them," she joked.

For more information about Challenger Sports, call Genesee ARC at 343-1123 or the YMCA at 344-1664.

Additional photos:

Assemblyman Hawley throwing the inaugural pitch of the alumni game

"Hammerin'" Hank Stratton, a 10-year veteran player, up to bat.

Past Batavian coverage:

July 4, 2015 - 9:23am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

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The Muckdogs were able to win their first series of the year behind 19-year-old Jordan Holloway’s strong start.

The 6-foot-4-inch righty kept the Mahoning Valley Scrappers off balance all night in route to a 7-4 Muckdog victory.

Most of the young players on the Muckdogs are not used to the grind of playing every day. With the unexpected day off on Wednesday because of rain, the Muckdogs look to have gotten some much needed time away because they are playing much better baseball as of late.

“When you aren’t playing as well as we were playing, time off of the field always helps,” Manager Angel Espada said. “Hopefully it helped us, but for some reason they are playing much better."

In the first inning, Holloway was able to work around a one-out walk to Scrappers left-fielder Ka’ai Tom by striking out DH Emmanuel Tapia and getting Nathan Winfrey to fly-out to left.

Holloway was able to work a perfect second inning while only throwing five pitches. The only trouble of the game for Holloway came in the third inning.

Connor Marabell led off the inning with a single and was moved to second by a Silento Sayles groundout to second.

Willi Castro doubled to right, scoring Marabell. Tom doubled, setting up runners at second and third with one out.

Holloway struck out Winfrey, but he was able to advance to first when catcher Blake Anderson couldn’t corral the loose ball in the dirt. Castro scored from third.

Holloway got out of the inning by getting Li-Jen Chu to fly-out to leftfield.

“We are talking about a 19-year-old kid who is learning how to pitch," Espada said. "It’s only his second year in pro ball and he is handling it pretty well. It’s just one day at a time, one start at a time with a young guy like him.”

Just like most of the season so far, the top of the Muckdogs lineup has carried them.

Anfernee Seymour and Stone Garrett combined to go 7-for-8 with four runs scored and three RBIs to lead the way for Batavia.

The scoring for the Muckdogs started in the first inning when Seymour knocked a single. Garrett beat out an infield single to short to set up first and second with one out.

A Korey Dunbar groundout to shortstop moved both runners up 90 feet. Seymour scampered home after a ball got by Chu, making it 1-0.

Batavia plated three more runs in the second all with two outs.

Ninth place hitter Joe Chavez and Seymour worked two-out walks. Giovanny Alfonzo doubled, scoring both Chavez and Seymour.

Garrett laced a ball in the gap for a triple, scoring Alfonzo making the game 4-0.

The Scrappers changed pitchers, bringing in 6-foot-6-inch James Stokes, who struck out Dunbar to end the threat.

Seymour would again be involved in Batavia’s scoring efforts in the fourth.

The speedy shortstop singled and stole second, even though the Scrappers called for a pitchout. He stole third and dashed home after the throw got away from the Scrappers' third baseman.

Seymour alone made the game 5-2. But the Muckdogs were not done.

In the sixth inning, Galvi Moscat singled up the middle, followed by Seymour and Alfonzo both getting hit by a pitch.

The hot hitting Garrett stepped into the plate and squeezed a ball down the first base line scoring two.

“They have been swinging well the whole season,” Espada said about Seymour and Garrett.

LJ Brewster and Steve Farnworth finished the game up for Holloway without allowing a run and only allowing three hits over three innings of combined work.

Garrett finished the day going 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two doubles. Seymour was 3-for-3 with four runs scored.

Holloway pitched six innings while striking out five and walking two in his first win of the season.

The Muckdogs improve to 3-11 on the season and look to continue their moment going into this weekend's games in West Virginia.

Batavia returns to Dwyer Stadium on Wednesday, July 8, against the Auburn Doubledays. 

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

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July 3, 2015 - 8:47am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

After being rained out on Wednesday night, the Batavia Muckdogs and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers met in two, seven-inning games on Thursday.

Cody Poteet, a fourth-round pick out of UCLA, started for the Muckdogs in game one.

Poteet opened strong by retiring the side in the first inning on just nine pitches. While Poteet looked confident, his defense let him down in the second.

Nathan Winfrey led off the inning with a single and would quickly move to second on a failed pickoff attempt to first.

Winfrey scooted to third on a ground out to second by Scrappers' third baseman Austin Fisher.

With two outs, Winfrey scored after the Muckdogs' third baseman threw a David Armendariz ground ball into the dirt trying to throw him out at first.

Poteet regrouped and fanned the next batter to end the inning.

The Muckdogs were able to score three runs in the fourth after some great situational baseball.

Eric Fisher started off the inning by smashing the first pitch he saw right back up the middle. Ryan Cranmer drew a walk, setting up first and second with no outs.

Brandon Rawe executed a perfect sacrifice bunt, moving Fisher to third and Cranmer to second.

Ninth-place hitter and left field Cameron Newell connected on a fly ball deep enough to center to score Fisher from third making it 1-1.

Leadoff hitter Anfernee Seymour ripped a ball just inside first base to score Cranmer.

The lighting-quick shortstop scored from second when Giovanny Alfonzo singled, making it 3-1.

Nestor Bautista replaced Poteet in the fourth and scattered three hits through the final four innings of the game.

Batavia added another run in the fifth when Brad Haynal doubled and then moved to third on a passed ball. He then scored on another passed ball by the Scrappers.

With solid pitching and timely hitting, the Muckdogs avoided the worst start in club history since 1953 by winning the first game of the doubleheader with a final score of 4-1.

The teams headed to the clubhouse to get ready for the next game and all the Muckdogs offense must have stayed in the locker room.

Three Scrappers pitchers were able to hold the Muckdogs to only two hits the whole game.

Jose Zapata got the start for the Scrappers in the second game and allowed only one hit while striking out three over his three innings of work.

Dominic DeMasi took over in relief in the fourth and allowed a mere one hit over three innings of work.

Billy Strode notched the save in the seventh for the Scrappers, working around a two-out error to keep the shutout intact.

Mahoning Valley scored all they needed in the sixth inning.

Silento Saylas started the inning with an infield single and then stole second. He advanced to third on a Willi Castro sacrifice bunt.

Saylas scored on a Fisher double just three pitches later. Winfrey drew a walk and Li-Jen Chu singled home Fisher making it 2-0.

The Scrappers added another insurance run in the seventh making it 3-0.

The Muckdogs got a runner on base in the bottom of the seventh but were unable to string any hits together.

The loss dropped the Muckdogs to 2-11 while the Scrappers improve to 5-8.   

Batavia currently sits in last place in the Pinckney Division and 10 games back of the first-place Williamsport Crosscutters.

The Muckdogs will finish up their short three-game home stand on Friday. The game is the annual Independence Day celebration and like all Friday night games, it will have fireworks following the conclusion of the game.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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July 1, 2015 - 7:50pm
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in sports, baseball, muckdogs.

The Muckdogs’ game tonight against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers was postponed due to rain.

The teams will play two, seven-inning games tomorrow, Thursday July 2. First pitch for game one will be at 5:05 p.m. with the second game to directly follow the conclusion of game one.

All tickets for tonight’s game (7/1) can be redeemed for any future home game. 

June 24, 2015 - 11:12pm
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

History was made on Tuesday night as three Muckdog pitchers combined to throw the first perfect game in club history and only the fourth all-time in the New York-Penn League.

After his disappointing opening day start, Gabriel Castellanos was ready to right the ship and get Batavia its first win of the season.

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers came into the game hitting .256 as a team, good for sixth in the New York-Penn League.

Castellanos was sharp, confident and had all his pitches going to keep the hard-hitting Scrappers off balance all night.

“I was able to execute all my pitches, it was a team effort,” he said.

Castellanos would need just 35 pitches to get through the first nine batters of the game. Of the first nine batters he faced, Castellanos was able to strikeout six of them, four of which were looking.

In his previous start against the Auburn Doubledays, Castellanos only made it through three and two-thirds innings while allowing five runs on five hits. On Tuesday it was a different story.

After striking out the side in third, Castellanos would strike out two of three batters in the fourth and fifth innings, bringing his game total to 10 strikeouts.

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Gabriel Castellanos poses with his game ball after the Muckdogs complete their first perfect game in club history on Tuesday night. Photo taken by Stephen Ognibene. 

“He had all his pitches going. He threw strikes and got ahead of hitters and finished them,” Manager Angel Espada said.

If there was a moment in the game where the perfect game was in doubt, it was definitely in the sixth inning.

D’vone McClure would fly out to center to begin the inning. Nate Winfrey, who has yet to collect a hit this season, was able to work the count to 0-3.

Instead of making Castellanos throw a strike, Winfrey hacked at the 0-3 pitch and flew out to centerfielder Stone Garrett.

Castellanos would strike out Silento Sayles to finish the inning.

Heading into the seventh inning, Castellanos had only thrown 71 pitches, but being it's so early in the season and the fact that it's minor league baseball, many were wondering how long they would let him go.

Castellanos would again work a perfect seventh inning, striking out Mark Mathias and putting his final tally at 12 strikeouts on 86 pitches.

“That’s the minor leagues. We have pitching counts. We have caps on innings,” Espada said.

“He gave us his all and we pushed him to as far as we could.”

Brett Lilek would make his season debut in the eighth by striking out the side. Lilek’s first batter he faced was no walk in the park.

Scrapper DH Anthony Santander, who is hitting .550 this season, led off the eighth inning and seemed out matched by 6’4” lefty. Lilek was able to punch him out on four pitches.

Steve Farnworth came in for the save in the ninth, but it was definitely not a drama-free ninth inning.

McClure would lead off the inning by drilling the second pitch he saw toward the gap between first and second. First baseman Eric Fisher was able to tip it with his glove toward second; Giovanny Alfonzo was able to scamper to pick it up and throw it to Franworth who was covering first.

Farnworth would strike out Winfrey and then finish the game by getting Sayles to ground out to shortstop.

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First baseman Eric Fisher (29) stretches to catch a ball in the bottom of the ninth inning while Scrappers left-fielder Silento Sayles (9) runs to first. Photo taken by Stephen Ognibene. 

“It’s not easy to come out of the bullpen and do what they did,” Espada said.

Batavia’s lone run of the game came in the second inning when Korey Dunbar would double, followed by a Taylor Munden double. Dunbar would score from second making it 1-0 and all the runs the Muckdog pitchers would need.

Dunbar would finish the game 2-for-2 with a double and Anfernee Seymour would go 2-for-4 in the win.

Each hitter for the Scrappers ended the game with at least one strikeout. 

“You can’t describe it,” Espada said. “It came at a great moment for this group of kids.”

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The Muckdogs celebrate the perfect game and thier first win on Tuesday night. Photo taken by Stephen Ognibene. 

The Muckdogs are on the road for their next six games but return to Dwyer for a three-game series against Mahoning Valley starting on July 1 at 7:05 p.m.

June 24, 2015 - 9:48pm
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in sports, baseball, muckdogs.

Not much has gone right for the Batavia Muckdogs thus far in 2015, but that all changed earlier tonight against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (3-3).

Three pitchers combined for the first perfect game in club history: 27 up, 27 down.

The perfect game is the first win of the season for Batavia (1-5).

Stay tuned for a full recap of the game.

June 23, 2015 - 1:57am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

If the first four games are going to be indicative of the Muckdogs 2015 season, Batavia players and fans are going to be in for a long season.

Coming off a three-game series against Auburn, where Batavia was swept, the Muckdogs were looking forward to welcoming the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, to Dwyer Stadium on Monday night.

Besides their opening day shutout, the Muckdogs have had little problem scoring runs and that trend continued against the Scrappers.

In the Muckdogs first at-bat leadoff hitter Anfernee Seymour was hit by the first pitch he saw. The speedy shortstop quickly stole second for his third stolen base of the season.

He would then move to third on a past ball and later score on a ground out by Giovanny Alfonzo. Hot hitting Stone Garrett would then blast the first pitch he saw over the outfield fence for his second homerun of the season.

The bats continued to stay hot for the Muckdogs in second when Galvi Moscat would single but move to second on a throwing error by the pitcher.

After a ground out by Taylor Munden, Travis Brewster would work a walk and set up first and third with one out.

Moscat would score after a single by Seymour. Brewster would steal third and quickly score after another past ball making the score 4-1.

Garrett would then hit a SAC fly, scoring Seymour. Alfonzo, who was walked, would also score in the second. Before the Scrappers could even catch their breath the score was 6-1.

If we learned anything from watching these Muckdogs, it is that no lead is ever safe.

In the top of third, Mark Mathias started off the inning with a bloop single. DH Anthony Sanatander would then connect on his second double of the game.

Catcher Li-Jen Chu would follow with a double of his own, scoring both runners and cutting the Batavia lead to 6-3.

The scored remained at 6-3 until the fifth inning. The Scrappers would plate five runs during the frame.

Mathias would start off the inning with a leadoff single. Santander, who already has two homeruns on the young season, would connect on his third homerun as he blasted one over the left field fence that still hasn’t landed yet.

Sicnarf Loopstock, who replaced starting first baseman Emmanuel Tapia in the fifth inning, would work a walk. After a Nathan Lukes' infield single, both runners would move up 90 feet after a past ball.

With runners on third and second and two outs, D’vone McClure would single. Both runners would score making it 7-6.

Ninth-place hitter Ka’ai Tom would rope a double, which would score McClure and increase the Scrappers lead to 8-6.

The Muckdogs would tie the game back up in the sixth when Brewster and Seymour would hit back-to-back singles and move to third and second on yet another past ball.

Alfonzo then hit a high chopper to the shortstop Willi Castro. Brewster would score easily and Seymour would be right behind him. Alfonzo was caught in a rundown between first and second and was tag out but not before the score was tied 8-8.

In the seventh inning what could go wrong, went wrong for the Muckdogs.

Leurys De La Rosa, a right-handed relief pitcher, would have trouble finding the plate and did not get any help from his teammates in the field.

After all the smoke had settled, seven runs had scored. De La Rosa threw 35 pitches in the inning. He walked two, hit one, had a baulk and allowed four hits. There also were three errors made in the field, one by Seymour at shortstop and two by third baseman Munden. 

“It just goes back to keep working hard,” Manager Angel Espada would say about the error-filled play in the field.

“Come out early, take ground balls and just regroup and focus on what you are doing. It just comes down to that,” he said.

Down 15-8, the Muckdogs were able to get the game within reach when Garrett would hit his second homerun of the game and third on the season in the eighth inning.

Before the Garrett home run, Seymour and Alfonzo would each reach base with two-out singles. Garrett would then drive the Ryan Perez pitch over the centerfield wall making it 15-11.

“They are two big pieces of our team and two big pieces of our organization,” Espada said about Seymour and Garrett.

“The tools are there, they just got to keep playing the game,” he said.

The Muckdogs would threaten in the ninth when they would get the bases loaded and the tying run at the plate, but Seymour would ground out to shortstop and the come back would come up short, falling to the Scrappers by the score of 15-11. 

“When you are in this situation you have to have a short memory. You have to come ready to go tomorrow,” Espada said.

Seymour would finish the game 3-for-6 with three singles, four runs scored and a RBI. Garrett had a huge day at the plate where he collected five RBIs on three hits, two of which were homeruns.

Out of the ninth-place spot in the lineup, Brewster was able to go 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored for the Muckdogs.

Brock Hartson was the winning pitcher for the Scrappers while De La Rosa took the loss.

Nick Fuller pitched two scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth for Batavia. He struck out three while only allowing two hits. He has seven strikeouts on the season.

The Muckdogs will once again try for their first victory of the season on Tuesday against the Scrappers. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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June 21, 2015 - 2:39pm
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

After being shutout on opening night, the Muckdogs were back in action on Saturday night against the Auburn Doubledays.

In a game of ups and downs, the Muckdogs ultimately lost a tough one by the score of 9- 5 in 10 innings.

The scoring began in the bottom of the second inning when Muckdog catcher Blake Anderson singled with two outs. Giovanny Alfonzo would walk setting up first and second for Galvi Moscat.

Moscat would hit a hard ground ball back up the middle. Anderson scored from second but Alfonzo was thrown out trying to move to third, ending the inning.

The Doubledays would respond right away in the top of the third inning.

After getting through the first two innings unscathed, Batavia starting pitching, Nick White, would run into trouble in the third.

Auburn’s Conor Keniry would hit a lead off triple and would later score on an Ian Sagdal sacrifice fly making it 1-1. But the Doubledays were not done.

Leadoff hitter Byran Mejia and Matthew Page would both hit solo home runs making the score 3-1.

Unlike on opening night where the Muckdogs seemed to lose focus after they got down early, they responded right away in the bottom of the third.

Leftfielder Kyle Barrett would start off the inning with a walk and would move to second on a ground out to first by Anfernee Seymour. Barrett would then score on a RBI triple by Stone Garrett making it 3-2.

With the infield playing in, Eric Fisher was able to single and scoring Garrett from third and tying the game at 3-3.

Ryan Cranmer would hit a groundball to the pitcher, Jefrey Rodriguez and in an attempt to start a double play, he threw the ball in the dirt to the second baseball and the ball dribbled into the outfield. Fisher would move to third on the play setting up first and third with just one out for the Muckdogs.

The Muckdogs would take the lead back when Cranmer scored on a RBI single by Anderson making it 4-3. The Muckdogs were still threatening with runners on first and third but Alfonzo struck out to end the inning.

“We crawled back into the game and we battled,” Manager Angel Espada said.

The game remained at 4-3 until the seventh inning when Auburn DH, Kelvin Gutierrez would work a walk and move to third on a Luis Guzman double.

Both runners would score on a Keniry single making it 5-4.

Throughout the game, the Muckdog pitchers always had that one inning they could not get through without giving up some runs.

“It is just part of the beginning of the season. They are just trying to find their rhythm. It’s early and most of them haven’t pitched in awhile,” Espada said.

Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Muckdogs were still down 5-4 and down to their last out.

Garrett would hit a towering fly ball to leftfield that found itself landing on the other side of the fence tying the game at 5-5.

The celebration was short lived as Auburn was able to plate four runs in the top of the 10th inning, all with two outs to end Batavia’s quest for their first win of the season.

Garrett would finish the game 3-for-4 with a triple, homerun and two runs scored. Anderson was 3-for-5 with three singles and a RBI.

Cody Harris pitched three innings in relief. He only allowed two hits and walked one. Steve Farnworth got the loss as he pitched three innings, gave up four hits and all four runs in the 10th inning.

“You don’t want to lose series and you don’t want to get swept,” Espada said when talking about the importance of tomorrow’s game.

“It’s important to win tomorrow and not get swept just to give us a little bit of confidence,” he said.

The Muckdogs will try to avoid the sweep on Sunday, Father’s Day, when they face off against the Doubledays in the series finale. Game time is set for 1:05 p.m. 

June 20, 2015 - 7:00am
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in sports, baseball, muckdogs.

During the first couple weeks of a baseball season, it is very rare to see a team clicking on all cylinders. On opening night Friday, the Muckdogs came across just that in the Auburn Doubledays.

In front of a crowd of 2,004 excited and eager fans, the Muckdogs were unable to score and dropped their opening game by the score of 10-0.

From the very first inning, the Doubledays were locked in and jumped on Muckdog starting pitcher Gabriel Castellanos.

“He competed. He just wasn’t able to put any hitters away,” Head Coach Angel Espada said.

Clay Williamson started the scoring in the top of the first inning when he reached on a fielder’s choice and later scored on an RBI single by DH David Kerian.

The Doubledays plated another run in the second after first baseman Diomedes Eusebio singled with two outs and then scored on ninth-place hitter Edwin Lora’s RBI triple.

Auburn’s starting pitcher, Robbie Dickey, was sharp from the beginning.

Dickey would not let a Muckdog past second base until the third inning. In what was Batavia’s best chance at scoring all night, Anfernee Seymour singled and then stole second. The throw to second was miss played and the speedy shortstop moved to third.

Centerfielder Stone Garrett then was walked to set up first and third for the Muckdogs. Unfortunately, they were unable to plate any runs as first baseman Eric Fisher struck out to end the inning.

After the third inning the floodgates opened and the Doubledays broke the game wide open.

Behind leadoff hitter Bryan Mejia’s big night at the plate, Auburn was able to score three runs in the fourth, two runs in the fifth and another three runs in the seventh.

Mejia was 3-4 with two doubles, a single and three RBIs to lead the way for the Doubledays. Lora also started off the season hot with a triple, double and two RBIs.

Getting their only two hits of the game earlier on, it seemed after the score got out of hand the Muckdogs seemed to concede defeat at the plate.

“At this level, with young hitters, once the game gets one-sided you just try to push,” Espada said.

With starting the season off on such a low note offensively, Espada believes it is important they come back out tomorrow and get some runs on the board.

“After this type of game you want to get on the other team and put some pressure and feel some confidence,” he said.

Luis Torres got the win on the mound for Auburn. He pitched five innings of relief for Dickey. Torres keep the Muckdog hitters off balance all night. He had three strikeouts and one walk.

Picking up the loss was Castellanos as he only went three and two-thirds innings. He allowed five hits, four runs and walked two.

Although opening the season with a 10-0 defeat, Espada is still optimistic that this will be a successful 2015 campaign for the Muckdogs.

“Tomorrow’s another day and you just got to regroup. The good part about it is these guys got the jitters out.”

The Muckdogs continue their three-game series against the Doubledays tomorrow at 7:05 p.m.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

Reliver Juan Guzman.

John Kennedy School's fourth-grade chorus singing at the seventh-inning stretch.

June 20, 2015 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in dwyer stadium, batavia, muckdogs, baseball, sports.

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Melanie Case submitted this photo of fireworks after the Muckdogs' opening night game at Dwyer Stadium. I don't think I've ever seen a better photo of fireworks at Dwyer.

June 19, 2015 - 3:20pm
posted by Kurtis Dunlap in muckdogs, baseball, sports.

At the start of every season the teams are fresh, the players are excited and the fans are restless for some baseball.

The 2015 Batavia Muckdogs season is here and there are many young players, here in Batavia, to get excited about. Highlighted below are three players the Muckdogs are counting on to produce for the upcoming season. 

Gabriel Castellanos, a lefty pitcher, will wear number 37 this year for the Muckdogs. He may seem familiar because he was on the Muckdogs roster last year.

Castellanos was a 2010 free agent signing of the Miami Marlins.

He is 6’1” and 165 pounds. The lefty pitcher started 13 games last year and had a 2-6 record. In total, he pitched 62 innings with 54 strikeouts and an opponent’s batting average of .224. He finished the season with an above average 4.65 ERA.

Castellanos, just 21 years old, will be the Muckdogs' opening day starter as the coaching staff hopes that he continues to show improvement and matures on the mound.

The next player to keep an eye out for is shortstop Anfernee Seymour.

Seymour is just 19 years old and is regarded as the fastest player in the Marlins organization.

Drafted in 2014 in the seventh round (#197 overall) he signed a contract for $400,000. This was significant because that was two times the value of that pick.

Seymour played in the outfield his whole high school career, but after trying out for the Marlins, they told him they wanted him to play in the infield.

During the 2014 season he played for the Gulf Coast Marlins. During his stint there, he played in 26 games, had 98 at-bats with a .245 batting average. He had three RBIs, 12 walks and 27 strikeouts. He also had 11 stolen bases.

Although considered to be a project by the Marlins organization, at only 19 years old and with incredible speed, the Marlins have him listed as their 26th overall prospect.

The Muckdogs' most high profile player this year will be the guy behind the plate.

Blake Anderson will catch and wear #26. He was drafted in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft. (#36 overall) He signed for $1.17 million straight out of West Lauderdale High School but was committed to play at the University of Southern Mississippi. He decided to turn pro instead.  

During his senior year he lead his team to a 4a State Championship with a .438 BA, 8 HR, 14 doubles, 40 RBIs and an OPS of .523.   

According to scouts, he has a hose of an arm and considered to be more of a defensive catcher. Some scouts said that he reminds them a lot of the Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Weiters.

Back for his third season coaching the Muckdogs will be Angel Espada. Pitching coach and hitting coach Brendan Sagara and Rigoberto Silverio both return as well.

The Muckdogs kick off their season tonight at home against their Thruway rivals the Auburn Doubledays. Game time is set for 7:05.

Note there will be a short ceremony before the game to honor Haley, groundskeeper Don Rocks' longtime dog that passed away this past winter.

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