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August 1, 2015 - 8:35pm

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Mike Gringer, of Spencerport, hits his tee shot on hole #1 at Terry Hills this afternoon during the Ricky Palermo's Spinal Injury Research Golf & Dinner Extravaganza.

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Ricky Palermo

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Gavin Prout, Richard Furlong and Gee Nash with Palermo.

July 30, 2015 - 4:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Kibbe Park, batavia, batavia bulldawgs, sports, football.

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Officials with the Batavia Bulldawgs, a youth football program with about 150 participants, were surprised recently to learn from city officials that they wouldn't have full use of Kibbe Park for practices, said John Reigle, Bulldawgs president.

Reigle said the four age-bracketed teams need a lot of space and a lot of parking for parents and coaches on practice days and only Kibbe Park provides enough space.

A newly formed men's softball league reserved the ball field at Kibbe, creating a scheduling conflict between the two uses.

City Manager Jason Molino said the city has seen an increase in the number of organized groups looking to use city parks over the past couple of years and that means the city needs to find a way to juggle the interests of all those groups.

"It's a new issue," Molino said. "It's not a bad issue. It's a good issue. There are multiple different organizations wanting to use the parks. In the past, the parks were available on a first-come, first-served basis, but as we get different organizations, football, softball, tennis, it creates conflicts. We need to figure out a way to get with all parties and work out a schedule."

Reigle said the Bulldawgs were a little caught off-guard by change in park use. For several years, going back at least 10 years if you include Batavia Youth Football, local youth football programs have used Kibbe Park for practice without reservations. Reigle said he wishes city officials had informed the Bulldawgs it needed to reserve the space for the first time before giving the time and space to another group.

This season, the Bulldawgs will practice where they play, at Lion's Park.

That's not an ideal situation because of limited parking in the area.

Riegle fears the increase in traffic four days a week will have a negative impact on residents on Wallace Street.

"On Saturday game days, as a courtesy to the neighbors, we put out cones in front of their front yards and driveways so people won't park there," Riegle said. "It's a small street and traffic flow in and out of the park is difficult."

Molino offered the team a city-owned field on Cedar Street, in front of the County Highway Department, but that field hasn't been used in years. At one time, before Batavia Sports Park, it was used for youth soccer. It hasn't been maintained since and Riegle said the ground is too hard and rutted now to be used safely for practice.

Which brings up another issue Molino said the city is facing as recreational sports use of the parks increases -- field prep and maintenance.

The city doesn't have a recreation department and doesn't have the resources to perform the kind of prep work that might be common for recreational leagues in other cities.

"In a way, this comes up at a good time," Molino said. "Our strategic plan outlines the need to do a recreational needs assessment. That can be done through the comprehensive planning process. We can look at what the needs are and develop that into the comprehensive plan so we know what these services cost and what it will take to fund them. It's a good public process that will help us understand the needs and demands on our parks."

Molino said he realizes Reigle isn't 100-percent satisfied with the outcome of their discussions about the situation, but both men are open to exploring the use of the field on Cedar Street for next season.

"The Bulldawgs are committed to continue providing a great program for the kids," Reigle said. "We'll make do with what's best for the safety of the kids."

July 30, 2015 - 3:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Drew Monti courtesy of Monti and Jeff Zamaiko.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Batavia Downs is pleased to announce that popular local reinsman, “Driving” Drew Monti, will be featured as a bobble head to be given away on Saturday Sept. 5.

"When we first started discussing this project last year, we spoke with our customers to see who they would like to see used as the focus of this promotion and the overwhelming response was "Driving Drew" said Todd Haight, general manager/director of Live Racing at Batavia Downs.

"He started driving here at 18 just a few years ago but his career has taken off and he has obviously become a fan favorite. And as popular as bobble heads are in the sport right now, we are very excited for this promotion."

The 20-year-old Monti came on the driving scene in 2013, scoring his first pari-mutuel win in April of that year. He was the top first-year provisional driver in North America in 2013 and he has progressed at a torrid pace ever since.    

Last year Monti won 170 races, $886,461 in purses and hit the board over 40% of the time. So far in 2015, he is on pace for career high numbers all around as he already has 146 wins and $753,078 in purses through Wednesday (July 29).

During his short three-year career, Monti has amassed 393 wins and $2 million in earnings with a combined year-to-year UDR of .252. He is definitely poised to make a run at the driving title at Batavia Downs this meet.  

One of the more popular young drivers in social media and chat in the Harness Racing Fan Zone, Monti is an example of what the next generation of horseman is all about. While balancing his racing career and education at the same time, Monti will be entering his fourth year at Canisius College this fall as he pursues his BA in business.

The “Driving” Drew Monti bobble heads are sponsored by TAG Jewelers (www.tagjewelers.com ) of 936 Dick Road in Cheektowaga, NY. TAG Jewelers has been Western New York’s most trusted fine metals broker since 1977.

Tony Gruppo is the owner of TAG Jewelers and has been and owner and strong supporter of harness racing in the Western New York region for decades.

"I can remember coming to Batavia Downs with my friends on the weekend's while attending nearby Brockport State College over forty years ago" said Gruppo.

"The track has always been a part of my life, so when Todd (Haight) approached me about this promotion it was a natural fit for me. Drew Monti is a rising star and a fine young man. I think you will be seeing more of him on a bigger stage in the near future."

Distribution of the “Driving” Drew Monti bobble heads will begin immediately after the seventh race on Saturday (Sept. 5) in the Paddock Room. There is a limit of one per person and are available while supplies last. You must be a Players Club member to receive this premium.

Fans wishing to get their bobble heads signed by Monti are urged to bring them back to the track the following day during the Labor Day matinee. Driving Drew will be trackside for an hour before the first race to greet his fans and sign the statuettes.

This is the third bobble head issued by Batavia Downs. Previously, perennial New York Sire Stakes leading driver Jim Morrill Jr. was honored as was NFL Hall of Famer and Buffalo Bills great, Thurman Thomas. Thomas is featured in Batavia Downs “34 Rush” sports bar, which is located on the gaming floor.

(Bobble head photo courtesy of Batavia Downs.)

July 30, 2015 - 3:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Photo courtesy of Paul White.)

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

It seemed like a stroll in the park on an 86-degree summer night for Kellys Cross as she totally overpowered a solid field of Open II pacing mares in Wednesday night’s (July 29) feature at Batavia Downs.

As the wings closed, the speedy Voltina (Jack Flanigen) bolted to the lead, but not before getting rimmed to the quarter by rail-rider Real Joy (Drew Monti) in 27.4. After she took, Real Joy came right back at her and the two continued to argue to the half.

At that point, Downs defending driving champion, Kevin Cummings pulled Kellys Cross from third and circled the dispute as the girls passed the three-quarters. From there the pair opened up a six-length advantage and coasted home in 29.1 with the victory never in doubt.

Kellys Cross tripped the timer in 1:55.1 and paid $11.40 to her backers. It was the fastest win time ever over a half-mile track for the 4-year-old Royal Mattjesty progeny. It was also the fifth win of the year for the mare that competes under the guidance of trainer John Mungillo for owner Frank Spagnolo.  

Drivers scoring doubles on the card included Jim McNeight (who registered the natural daily double in races one and two), Kevin Cummings, John Cummings Jr. and Dave McNeight III.

Batavia Downs also hosted its annual Breast Cancer Awareness Night in conjunction with the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, NY (bccr.org ). Each of the eleven races was sponsored by groups who made donations to the fund and presented blankets to the winners after each race. There was also a silent auction and raffle that was held during the night, with winners announced before the last race.

The effort raised $5,200 that will go to BCCR to help find a cure and eradicate this scourge to women everywhere.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (July 31) night at 6:35.

July 29, 2015 - 1:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in shawn gray, harness racing, sports.

(Harness driver Shawn Gray)

By Tim Bojarski, president-UNY USHWA

Akron, NY---Harness driver Shawn Gray was spotted at Plainridge Park, just south of Boston on Monday (July 27), but he wasn’t there plying his trade. Instead he was in the grandstand with friends, watching the races and working on getting better.

Gray made the stop on his way back home to Maine where he planned to spend some time recuperating from a racing accident that occurred earlier this month.

In the last race at Buffalo Raceway on Wednesday (July 15), Gray was sitting fourth at the rail just past the quarter when the horse in front of him made a break. Gray grabbed the mare he was driving to go around, but she also ran and then stuck her toes. This caused trailing horses to pile into Gray, who eventually got thrown to the ground.

When the dust settled, several other drivers were shaken up, but Gray laid unconscious on the track. He was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and placed in ICU for three days.

“I had a pretty good concussion; my brain was bleeding. They monitored it every day to make sure it was under control and it was just wait and see for a while. My memory has been really messed up ever since. I don’t remember the accident or anything that happened before it” Gray said. “The only thing I do remember is waking up in the hospital and wanting to get the heck out of there.”

Gray was kept in ICU under observation from Wednesday until Saturday, when he was put in a regular room. Although his head injury was the most serious, Gray also suffered general bruising over his body, a broken knuckle on his right hand, a leg injury from being stepped on and he bit his tongue.   

“Even though I have been getting better over the last week, I still have a problem thinking of people’s names; even people that I’ve known for 20 years. It just takes a second” Gray explained.

“Yesterday (July 27) was the best day I’ve had since the wreck, but today was not quite as good as yesterday, but not bad. The best way I can describe the way I feel right now is like a real, real sharp hangover. Kind of dizzy, my head hurts and my balance is not 100 percent.”

Gray’s next doctor appointment is Monday (Aug 3) to determine the progress he has made towards returning to work. The hope is to get cleared to start back jogging and eventually get back behind the gate. But Gray remains guarded, saying he’ll know when the time is right.   

“We’ll see what the Doc says Monday; I can’t do anything until I get the green light from him. But even if he did say I was alright to go right now, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable driving.”

Gray’s plans are to race at Batavia Downs when he returns and for the foreseeable future. His horses are there being trained by his crew under his watchful eye. Everyone in the business who knows Shawn Gray is looking forward to him getting well and getting back in the bike soon.

“I just want to say that I really appreciate all the calls and texts I have gotten from everybody since this incident happened. I haven’t answered all of them because I just haven’t felt like talking a whole lot until a couple of days ago” Gray concluded.

Shawn Gray finished third in the driver standings at Buffalo Raceway with 123 wins, even though he missed the final two weeks of racing due to the accident.

July 29, 2015 - 1:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

(Posterity (Lucky Chucky-Vintage Ship))

By Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations

Four divisions of New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) 2-year-old trotting fillies went postward on opening night (7-27) at Batavia Downs and as a result the first record of the season just missed being broken. The track proved lightning fast as three of the four divisions set lifetime marks.

Posterity (Lucky Chucky-Vintage Ship) took full advantage of an early break by favored Winning Princess (Jim Morrill Jr.) to wire the field and post a 1:59.1 victory, which was only one-fifth of a second off the track record set by Dreamy Dawn in 2010.

Charlie Norris, who both trains and drives the filly, left sharp and set even fractions en route to an easy three and one-half length decision. The winning time was a new lifetime mark and the second win in three starts this year for Posterity, who paid $7.

Posterity is owned by Carrie Norris, Janine Zito and Jerry Buck Sprinkle.

(Lima Playtime (Credit Winner-Pacific Legacy))

In the first division, Lima Playtime (Credit Winner-Pacific Legacy) was an easy coast to coast winner who led the field by open lengths the whole race. Driver Rick Zeron seemed to have a gas pedal at his disposal after they passed three-quarters in 1:32.1; that’s when the mare sped away from the group to come home in an impressive 28.3 and take a new lifetime mark of 2:00.4. The even-money favorite returned $4.20.

Zeron trains and co-owns Lima Playtime with Millar Farms, James Walker and Paul Fisher.

The second division saw a dominant winner displaced due to interference by her coupled entry.

Goosebump Hanover (RC Royalty-Good Common Cents) and Jim Morrill Jr. wasted no time getting the lead before setting speedy fractions of 28.4, 58.4 and 1:29.4 into the far turn. The entry on the ticket, Steel Wheels (Lucky Chucky-Some Girls) and Gates Brunet pulled off the rail from third to take a shot at the leader. But shortly after that move, she made a break and interfered with trailing horses.

After the heavily favored Goosebump Hanover pulled away to an easy five-length victory, the inquiry sign went up, and the winner came down due to the interference by the coupled horse. Second place finisher, Credit To Thelimit (Credit Winner-Prize Angie) and driver Sam Schillaci were then declared the winner ($23.80).

Credit To Thelimit is also trained by Schillaci for owners Matthew Bencic, Peter Barbato, Sam Bova and Jodi Schillaci.  

(Dizzy Broad (Broad Bahn-Portia))

In the final split, Dizzy Broad (Broad Bahn-Portia) proved last week’s win was no fluke as she set a new lifetime mark of 2:00.4 while registering a four-length decision over her six competitors.

Lindylicious (Credit Winner-Scrumptious Lindy) flew off the wings for Chris Lems and went right to the front before leading for almost three-quarters of the race. But when the field was headed up the backside, driver Kevin Cummings pulled Dizzy Broad from third and appeared to fly past Lindylicious to take the lead. From that point on the only thing in question was how much the filly would win by.

Dizzy Broad, who is owned and trained by Noel Daley, returned $9.10 to her backers.

There were also two divisions of the NYSS Excelsior A series on the card and the both also proved to be career best efforts for the winners.

Take The Cash (Cash Hall-Take The Lid Off) driven by Jim Morrill Jr. scored her first career victory in 2:01.4 and returned $4.60. Take The Cash is trained by Perry Simser, who co- owns the filly with Clifford Morcom, Richard Kaplan and Salvatore Corcione.

In the second leg, Barn Diva (Conway Hall-Misty Ridge) captured her second straight career win while also stopping the timer in 2:01.4. The winner, who returned $4.30, is trained and co-owned by Steve Pratt with Nancy Pratt and the Purple Haze Stable.

Racing resumes tonight (7-29) at Batavia Downs with the first post set for 6:35.

July 28, 2015 - 10:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

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The first race of the 69th season at Batavia Downs turned into a coast-to-coast cruise by the #3 horse, Lima Playtime, with a career-best time of 2:00.4. Lima was driven by Rick Zeron and paid $4.20.

It should be both a fun and exciting racing season at the Downs, said Marketing Director Ryan Hasenauer. There are special promotions throughout the season, but the remodoled gaming floor is also bringing in bigger crowds, which generates more revenue, which translates into bigger purses for harness racing. The bigger payouts will draw even higher quality horses to the track.

"Better horses make for better races and better wagering, and bigger pools means bigger winners," Hasenauer said.

The track is in great shape, Hasenauer said, which also helps draw drivers and trainers throughout the season.

"We already have a great reputation among trainers and owners as one of the best-manicured tracks in the industry," Hasenauer said.

Promotional highlights this season include Craft Beer Fridays, running into August, and Sunday wine tastings, and starting in August, Dollar Days, with dollar drafts and dollar hot dogs.

"People really like getting a good dollar hot dog or a cold draft beer at a decent price," Hasenauer said.

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July 27, 2015 - 1:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Press release from Tim Bojarski, Batavia Downs Media Relations:

As the Western New York harness racing scene switches back to the oldest lighted harness track in America today, Batavia Downs wasted no time welcoming back the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) to its schedule.

Post time for the first race is 6:35 p.m. Opening night at Batavia Downs also features free programs and free magnetic schedules to all fans attending the races live (while supplies last).

The series makes the first of eight stops at the Genesee County oval with a group of lightly-raced state bred 2-year-old trotting fillies who will compete in four divisions, vying for purses totaling $109,500.

The first leg is led by Dolly Drama PV (Lucky Chucky-Massive Drama) from the Mark Harder stable. This filly has made two starts this year, finishing third and first respectively while banking $16,241. Last week at Buffalo Raceway, she left sharply to gain early position and then trotted home in a snappy 29.4 to win by two-lengths in a lifetime best 2:03.4. Dolly Drama PV is 5-2, leaves from post two and will be driven by local favorite Jeff Gregory.

The royally bred Pampered Winner (Credit Winner-Pampered Princess) ships in from the Meadowlands to make her first NYSS start for Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter. After qualifying three times at the iconic New Jersey track, she made her first lifetime start there in a juvenile overnight event where she finished five and one-half lengths off the pace in 1:59.3. Pampered Winner is the track handicapper’s selection at 2-1.

The second split features Goosebump Hanover (RC Royalty-Good Common Cents) who won the fastest (2:01.4) of four divisions at Buffalo last week for the top money-earning trainer in North America, Ron Burke. After getting away second, she went to the front past the quarter and then led the rest of the way for an easy one and one-half length victory. Jim Morrill Jr. picks up the lines for this week’s outing.

Steel Wheels (Lucky Chucky-Some Girls) made an unfortunate break at the start of her race last week that took her completely out of contention. That, after posting a win through disqualification at Monticello Raceway in an Excelsior A level race the week before. Steel Wheels, who is trained and driven by Gates Brunet, is coupled as a betting interest with Goosebump Hanover and they go postward as the morning line favorites at 2-1.

Royal Encore (RC Royalty-Spin The Planet) sat out last week after posting a solid second-place finish at Monticello on July 3. Now ready to make her second lifetime start, Royal Encore looks to improve for trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer. They leave from post four and are listed at 5-2.

Ron Burke’s Winning Princess (Credit Winner-Cabaret Princess) is the 2-1 early choice in the third division and looks to get back to her winning ways. She made a break at Buffalo last week that she couldn’t overcome after posting two convincing wins prior. In those starts she was victorious in 2:00.2 and 2:00.3 by a combined 10 lengths. Jim Morrill Jr. is back in the bike for the third consecutive time.

Winning Princess starts from post 2, and is coupled as a betting interest with Starlingmoon (Prayer I Am-Meadow Dion) who leaves from post 7 with Brett Miller aboard.  

Posterity (Lucky Chucky-Vintage Chip) looks to pose the greatest threat to the favorite after having scored a first and second place finish in NYSS action this year. Charlie Norris both trains and drives Posterity who leaves from post three as the 5-2 second choice.

In the final leg, Lindylicious (Credit Winner-Scrumptious) is moving up from Excelsior A action after two solid wins over that group to take on the top level trotters here. Her 2:01.2 win at Buffalo last week was actually faster than the fastest NYSS leg which was won by Goosebump Hanover (2:01.4). She has proven to be a versatile performer; racing both on top and from off the pace, and her gate speed will suit her well this week as she leaves from post six.

George Ducharme, who won the 2013 Hambletonian with Royalty For Life, conditions Lindylicious and her regular driver Chris Lems is back up for the ride. They are rated as a 5-1 shot to win.

Dizzy Broad (Broad Bahn-Portia) is coming off a NYSS win in her first lifetime start at Buffalo last week. It was a convincing victory, but also the slowest of the quartet that day (2:05.1). Western New York’s leading driver, Kevin Cummings, will be aboard the 5-2 handicapper’s choice for the second time.

Love Crazy Love (Crazed-Love U Overandover) drew the rail for the second straight week and has one win in NYSS action this year for trainer-driver Gates Brunet. She is a solid competitor that is listed at 3-1 morning line.

There are also two divisions of Excelsior A action that offer $30,000 in purses and two divisions of Excelsior B horses that will go after their share of $13,500.

For more information on all the events at Batavia Downs this year, log on to www.bataviadownsgaming.com . There you can get full race schedules, entries, results as well as watch all the race replays immediately after each race is declared official. Live streaming video of all the races is available by becoming a member of Bataviabets.com

July 25, 2015 - 12:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, girls softball.

Press release:
Looking for area girls to add to an already successful, competitive 18U softball team for the 2016 season. Home games and practices are held at the Oakfield-Alabama High School. Away games are played in the Buffalo area. All positions needed.

Tryouts are at the Oakfield-Alabama High School at 6 p.m. on Aug. 12 and 13. Contact (518) 222-8044 with questions. The school is located at 7001 Lewiston Road, Oakfield.

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

Press release:

The 69th season of live racing at America’s oldest lighted harness track gets under way on Monday (July 27) with post time set for 6:35 p.m. That is the first of 70 live racing dates to be contested during the Batavia Downs summer-fall session that runs through Dec. 12.

The racing schedule begins with a Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday rotation for the month of August and switches to a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday slate for the remainder of the meet.

For the first time in track history, there are eight matinee cards to be held during the year. Besides the five Sundays in August, afternoon starts are also set for Labor Day (Sept. 7), Columbus Day (Oct. 12) and Breeder’s Cup day (Oct. 31). And two twilight Tuesdays have been penciled in for Sept. 15 and 22.

Post time for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are 6:35 p.m. until Oct. 21 when it gets pushed up to 6:15 p.m. for the remainder of the meet. All matinees start at 1:15 p.m. and the two Tuesday cards start at 4:30 p.m.

Todd Haight, general manager/director of Live Racing at Batavia Downs, is both busy and optimistic this week leading up to opening night as he handles many of the last minute details needed to make the meet successful.

“A new era of racing begins at Batavia Downs this year as we have inaugurated changes that will take racing here well into the future. Between the construction of the new trackside hotel, paddock changes, increased purses and our goal to present our live patrons with little down time between races with all our special events, the 2015 meet should be one to be remembered,” Haight said.

The changes Haight spoke about will be evident to both fan and horseman alike upon entering the Batavia campus, most noticeably the construction of a new four-story hotel at the top of the stretch that will overlook the track. Slated to open on New Year’s Eve, the property will be going up as the meet goes on.

In order to facilitate that project, the existing paddock alignment has changed. It is now a four-race enclosure with 16 new wash stalls just adjacent in Barn 1. Horsemen are advised to become familiar with the new paddock schedule, which is available on the Batavia Downs' Web site.

Purses have increased for many classes due to the increased handle on the gaming floor. To start the meet, the Open trot and pace will each go for $10,000.

Some of the best racing in the sport will be contested at the Genesee County oval this year, headed by a full complement of New York Sire Stake (NYSS) events.  The best juveniles from the Empire State will compete here on July 27, Aug. 2-5-9-22 -30 and Sept. 4 and 16.

Then on Saturday (Oct. 3), the Downs will host the second richest night of racing ever (behind the Breeders Crown in 1988) when the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational Pace and four $50,000 NYSS consolation events will headline the program. Horsemen will be competing for purses totaling almost $300,000.

Race Secretary Joe Zambito has put together another solid condition sheet and is anxious to get the meet under way.

“It’s a very exciting time at Batavia Downs with so many positive changes taking place. Our defending driving champion and seventh highest percentage driver in North America, Kevin Cummings, is back to protect his title along with our other veterans including Jim McNeight,” Zambito said.

“Our young guns are led by 'Driving Drew' Monti, Shawn McDonough and Dave McNeight III. And this year we welcome Craig Gilmour, who is shipping in with a 25-horse stable.”

Fans attending the live races will also notice some changes along with one of the most aggressive promotion lineups available at any race track.

This year there is no quinella wager; superfecta minimums have gone from .10 to .20; and the track introduces their new “Early Bird Daily Double,” available only in the Paddock Room to patrons attending the races live. Bettors who wager a total of $10 or more on daily-double wagers will receive $10 in free play for the Batavia Downs' gaming floor.

Twenty-three of the 70 racing dates feature promotions and giveaways that offer something for everybody.

On opening night there will be free racing programs and magnetic racing schedules (while supplies last) and that will be followed by Dollar Friday’s ($1 hot dogs, soda and beer) all during August. But the most anticipated events come after that.

Aug. 23 is Family Fun Day and features the ever popular dachshund or “Wiener Dog” races. A daylong schedule of special events designed especially for children will start at 2 p.m. and run through the afternoon. The 80-dog field starts their heats after the last live harness race. All events are sponsored by Genesee Feeds of Batavia.

Sept. 5 is a special driver bobble-head giveaway, sponsored by TAG Jewelers. More information on this (including the driver featured) will be released shortly.

Sept. 7 is the annual Labor Day matinee featuring the driver’s bike race, which got its start back in the 1970s. Eight of the Downs favorite reinsmen turn in their sulkies for 10-speeds to see who can peddle their way to victory. The eight bicycles used in the race will be randomly given away after the race to the fans who select the winning driver.

For more information on all the events at Batavia Downs this year, logon to www.bataviadownsgaming.com. There you can get full race schedules, entries, results and you can watch all the race replays immediately after each race has been declared official. Live streaming video of all the races is available by becoming a member of Bataviabets.com.

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 - 11:06am
posted by Billie Owens in Wiener Dog Race, Batavia Downs, sports.

Press release:

Registration begins today (July 22) for one of the most popular promotions of the season at Batavia Downs Gaming -- the annual dachshund or “wiener dog” races, which will be held on Sunday, Aug. 23.

Sponsored by Genesee Feeds of Batavia, a total of 10 heats will be contested with eight wiener dogs competing in each. The first race will begin after the last live harness race of the day, which will be approximately 4:20 p.m. The wiener dog races are the final feature of Family Fun Day at the races. The 2015 live harness racing season gets under way on Monday, July 27.

Last year, Kristy Drabek’s 2-year-old dachshund named Brinkley stormed down the stretch of America’s oldest lighted harness racetrack to win the championship final after competing for the first time ever. The official margin of victory was a half (dog) length. Six-year-old Pablo Penders, owned by Adrienne Penders, surged at the wire to nip 5-year-old early leader, Ruby, owned by Sarah Farley, for second.

The first 80 dogs entered will receive a canine gift bag courtesy of Genesee Feeds of Batavia. But the dogs won’t be the only winners here; their human counterparts are in line for a nice payoff as well. Each “puprietor” will be eligible to receive some nice prizes if their pet pooch proves prolific.

The owners of each heat winner (10 in all) will receive $25 in gaming free-play. And the winning, second and third place owner in the championship final will receive $100, $75 and $50 in gaming free-play respectively along with two complimentary clubhouse buffets each as well.

To register or for more information, all owners should call Arna Tygart at 585-343-3750, ext. 437, during regular business hours.

July 22, 2015 - 6:08am
posted by Billie Owens in GLOW Fighting Ducks, football, sports.

Press release:

The youth football team, the GLOW Fighting Ducks, are running a mini-camp, free to all current Ducks on today, and Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Notre Dame High School in Batavia.

On Thursday after the camp we are planning on showing a token of our appreciation to Notre Dame for allowing us to play on their field by donating brand new "Down Markers" to the football program.

President, Marc Lawrence
GLOW Fighting Ducks
PO Box 1549
Batavia NY 14021
[email protected]
www.glowfightingducks.com

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 21, 2015 - 4:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, basketball, GCC.

Press release:

Jason Perry Murray recently signed a Letter of Intent to join the Fisk University (TN) men's basketball program beginning this fall.

The 6'9" center from Harlem set the school record for career blocks with 117, topping the previous mark by eight. Perry Murray started in 36 out of the 49 career games he played at GCC and averaged 7.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Fisk is a Division I member of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The Bulldogs are coached by Larry Glover.

Genesee Community College athletics program endeavors to provide a quality and competitive intercollegiate athletics program consistent with the National Junior Collegiate Athletics Association (NJCAA) philosophy and the overall educational mission of Genesee Community College. Participation in collegiate athletics should be an extension of the total educational experience for the student athlete. The inherent philosophy emphasizes the athletic setting as a classroom used to teach character, commitment, work ethic, respect for differences, and the importance of sacrifice, teamwork, and cooperation.

For further information and pictures go to Genesee's Athletic Web page, which is updated regularly with game results, team rosters, photographs and information about Genesee's overall athletic program. http://www.geneseeathletics.com

View Online: http://readme.readmedia.com/Perry-Murray-Signs-With-Fisk-University/1130...

July 20, 2015 - 6:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, muckdogs.

Press release:

Join us at Dwyer Stadium Aug. 10th, 11th and 12th for our Youth Baseball Camp!

Kids ages 6-14 will receive two days of on-field instruction from the Muckdogs players and coaches on Aug. 10th and 11th from 9 a.m. -- 12 p.m. Children will learn from the pros in the areas of hitting, fielding, pitching, catching, base running and bunting.

Then on Aug. 12th, campers will be able to come back to Dwyer for a private autograph signing with the team 30 minutes before the gates open (5:30 p.m.) and then be recognized on the field prior to the Muckdogs game vs. the Lowell Spinners (Boston Red Sox affiliate).

Campers will also receive a special T-shirt not available in the team store, a camp photo, two tickets to the Aug. 12th game, as well as daily lunch, all for only $70.

Registration forms are available at Dwyer Stadium and online at muckdogs.com. Space is limited and all registrations and payments must be turned in by Friday, July 31st.

The Batavia Muckdogs are the short-season, Class A affiliate of the Miami Marlins and are the lone remaining founding members of the New York-Penn League, dating back to 1939. The Batavia Muckdogs are operated by the neighboring Rochester Red Wings.

Location: Dwyer Stadium, 299 Bank St., Batavia, NY 14020
Phone: 585-343-5454; Fax: 585-343-5620
Web site: www.muckdogs.com

July 17, 2015 - 2:05pm

Submitted photos and information.

Dave Whitcombe scored a hole in one on hole number 14 at Terry Hills Golf Course Wednesday, July 15 during match play in the Sunny's Golf League. He used an 8 iron on the 130-yard hole. The hole in one was witnessed by Jeff Whitcombe, Chip Poole and Mike Rodgers. This was the first hole in one for the 69 year old.

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