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January 20, 2021 - 6:26pm
posted by Press Release in sports, Bowling.

Press release:

Two members of the Toyota of Batavia Thursday 5-Man League at Mancuso Bowling Center found perfection last week -- each right-hander registering their third United States Bowling Congress-certified 300 game.

On lanes 15-16, 40-year-old Justin Burdick of Olean fired 300 for the Ken Barrett Chevy team while on lanes 17-18, 63-year-old Ron Lawrence of Batavia did the same for The Expendables team.

Both 300 games came in game two of their respective series, with Burdick finishing with 734 and Lawrence ended with 701.

Top series honors for the night went to Tom Baker of the Eastown Beverage team with a 738.

Elsewhere around the Genesee Region, Rick Saunders of Batavia finished with a 278 game and 775 series in the Turnbull Heating Triples League at Mancuso's, while Rob Husted of Bergen posted a 258 game and 771 series in the Thursday Owls League at Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen.

For a list of high scores, click on the Pin Points tab at the top of this page.

January 19, 2021 - 3:49pm
posted by James Burns in Batavia Muckdogs, sports, dwyer stadium, baseball.

bataviamuckdogs.pngWhen was the last time an actual owner of the Muckdogs was at Dwyer Stadium? There is one there today.

Things continue to change for the new Muckdogs under the ownership of Robbie Nichols. He's at Dwyer stadium talking to fans and helping sell season tickets until 6:30 this evening. 

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General Admission seats are just $99.

Reserve box seats are $199.

Reserved seats come with waitstaff so you don’t miss a pitch. 

If you can't make it down to Dwyer Stadium today, please call or email the Batavia Muckdogs at (607) 734-7825 or [email protected]

Nichols has been in town this week meeting with local businesses, talking to fans and he also has plans to reach out to the area's Little Leagues to talk with them about the Muckdogs being a more active part of the community.  

The Muckdogs are finalizing this season's plans and now have a new official Facebook page you can follow for more updates on the coming season. 

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January 17, 2021 - 1:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, buffalo bills, sports.

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In case you haven't heard, the Buffalo Bills (15-3) are heading to the AFC Championship game, for the first time since 1993, next Sunday. Barber Joey Williams gave Raymond Schramm Jr. a haircut that matches his team pride after yesterday's playoff win over the Baltimore Ravens 17-3.

Submitted photo.

January 12, 2021 - 8:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, batavia.
Video Sponsor

The Muckdogs will bark again.

True, no longer will the team be comprised of players affiliated with a Major League Baseball team but the majority of players in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League are legitimate professional baseball prospects.

As many as 30 current major league players have passed through the league previously, said Robbie Nichols, the former professional hockey player who already owns a PGCBL team in Elmira and will own the expansion PGCBL Muckdogs in Batavia.

The Genesee County Community Baseball Club, which owns the Muckdogs trademark, has agreed to let Nichols use the team name.

PGCBL is a "wooden bat league" -- a league comprised of amateur players who play or will play Division I or Division II college baseball.

A couple of advantages of collegiate ball over low-level minor league ball, Nichols said, is that the players with a team tend to spend the entire season with a team, so fans get to know them and Nichols said his organization -- CAN-USA Sports -- is committed to fielding a team with about four players from the local area.

The PGCBL regular season consists of 60 games from late May until the end of July. The playoffs and championship are in the first week of August.

Season tickets are on sale now and start at $99. There is also a VP ticket package for $199. Existing Muckdogs season ticket holders will have priority to retain the seats they had in previous seasons.

January 8, 2021 - 5:46pm
posted by Press Release in new york penn league, baseball, muckdogs, sports.

Press release:

In 1939, the New York-Penn League (NY-P League) was founded in Batavia, NY (formerly known as the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York (PONY) League), and has been the oldest, continuously operated CLASS A league in professional baseball.

As one of the founding members of the League, the Batavia club has proudly provided affordable, family entertainment for the Batavia community and Western New York for decades.

Unfortunately, Major league Baseball has announced it will no longer continue to offer Major League Baseball club affiliations to Batavia and most of the other clubs in the New York-Penn League.

The result of Major League Baseball’s action means the end of professional baseball in Batavia.

Major League Baseball’s announcement was part of other sweeping changes being made to the player development structure of the Minor Leagues, which includes the elimination of the Rookie classification and the NY-P League’s Class A – Short Season classification of professional baseball.

In sum, Major League Baseball believes these classifications are no longer needed for developing its players.

NY-P League President, Ben Hayes, recently stated, “The elimination of this historic League as part of Major League Baseball’s player development system is truly heartbreaking for the NY-P League’s fans, communities, club employees, and club owners.

"Sadly, most of the NY-P League’s clubs played their final professional baseball games in 2019, and neither they nor their fans knew at the time that it would be their last professional baseball season.

"The elimination of these classifications of professional baseball by Major League Baseball will result in thousands of players, who would have had an opportunity to develop and compete to play in the Major Leagues, will no longer get the chance to live their dream.

"I’ve been working with Batavia Interim City Manager, Rachael Tabelski, over the past several months to ensure the Batavia community will continue to enjoy the play of live baseball at historic Dwyer Stadium.”

During its professional baseball history, the Batavia club enjoyed four NY-P League championships, and Batavia’s fans saw numerous players who went on to have exceptional Major League careers, including Steve Blass, Doc Ellis, Cito Gaston, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and many others.

In 1961, the Batavia club made history when the Pittsburg Pirates named Gene Baker as the Batavia club’s manager, making him the first African American to manage a professional baseball club.

Prior to the 2008 season, the club was operated by Genesee County Baseball Club, a nonprofit community-based organization. From 2008-2017, the club was operated by the Rochester Red Wings, and in 2018 and 2019 by a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NY-P League.

In 2019, the Batavia club won the Pickney Division championship and competed for the NY-P League championship, increased its attendance by 42 percent, and won an award for the best natural turf field in the NY-P League.

January 8, 2021 - 12:41pm

Press release:

Enjoy the forest in winter and track the secret lives of wild animals on a guided hike! Winter Wonderland Hikes are held at the Interpretive Nature Center at the Genesee County Park & Forest on the following Saturdays:

  • Jan. 9th from 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Feb. 6th from 1 to 3 p.m.

Hikes will go, snow or no snow. Snowshoes may be used, weather permitting, and are available for rent or you may bring your own. Snowshoeing lesson provided, no previous experience needed.

Rental is included in the price, $5/person, $15 max/family. Recommended for ages 3 and up. Space is limited. Preregistration is required, call (585) 344-1122.

Masks must be worn whenever unable to maintain 6 feet of social distance. Participants are encouraged to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.

Join us for Winter Fun Night Hikes from 7 to 9 p.m. on the following Saturdays:

  • Jan. 9th -- meet at the Interpretive Nature Center
  • Jan. 23rd -- meet at Pavilion B
  • Feb. 6th -- meet at the Interpretive Nature Center
  • Feb. 27th -- meet at Pavilion A

Enjoy the tranquil beauty of the forest at night! Park guides lead you on a night hike for ages 18 and over.

Snowshoes may be used, weather permitting, and are available for rent or you may bring your own. Snowshoeing lesson provided, no previous experience needed. Rental is included in the price, $5/person, $15 max/family.

Space is limited. Preregistration is required, call (585) 344-1122! Masks must be worn whenever unable to maintain 6 feet of social distance. Participants are encouraged to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.

Make a memory this winter with your own Private Group Snowshoe Hike! A Naturalist guides your group through peaceful woodland trails and open meadows.

Listen to winter’s quiet beauty and find signs of wildlife in this 431-acre park. Private hikes are available on Saturdays in January and February from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. by reservation only at the Interpretive Nature Center.

No previous experience is needed; snowshoes provided or bring your own. Rental is included in the price. Limit group size of 10 people. $5/person, minimum group fee is $50. Call (585) 344-1122 to book your own adventure!

Snowshoe Rentals are available at the Genesee County Park & Forest Interpretive Center: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays; 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, December through March, weather permitting.

Snowshoes must be used in the park. Fee is $5/pair and all proceeds go to ACORNS, the nonprofit organization that supports the parks!

Call (585) 344-1122 to register. For more information visit our website, or contact Shannon Lyaski at:  [email protected] or phone (585) 344-1122.

January 8, 2021 - 10:36am

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Paraphrasing a line from the movie “Field of Dreams,” Robbie Nichols of Elmira believes that if he builds a quality and entertaining baseball club, the people of Batavia will come in droves to Dwyer Stadium this summer.

A former pro hockey player in the American Hockey League and International Hockey League, the 56-year-old Nichols has his sights set on starting a new franchise in Batavia as a member of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.

As reported first on The Batavian, Nichols will present his plan to Batavia City Council on Monday night and is hopeful the governing body approves terms of a lease agreement put forth by Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski.

“City Council’s approval is the final step,” said Nichols, who, along with his wife, Nellie, owns the Elmira Pioneers in the PGCBL and the Elmira Enforcers hockey team in the Federal Prospects Hockey League. “I will meet with them on Monday night and we have a press conference scheduled for Tuesday at 3:30 at Batavia Downs Gaming.”

Nichols said he will announce the Batavia team’s nickname – reports indicate that “Muckdogs” is a possibility – and will announce the team’s manager.

“We’ll also have some other good things to share about the club and then we’ll hit the pavement running,” he said.

Owner Promises Top-Notch Play

Nichols said the PGCBL features mostly Division I college prospects from the ages of 18 to 21 who are hoping to catch the eye of scouts and get drafted by a Major League team.

“It’s top quality ball,” he said. “We had a player drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Orioles last year – Jordan Westburg” (a shortstop who signed a $2.3 million bonus with the Orioles last June). Westburg played for Elmira in 2018.

Nichols said the players are “serious” about their craft – “good athletes and I think that everyone is going to be really surprised by the talent that will be out on the field.”

“We really need the support of City Council to get this approved as fast as we can because we are a little bit behind the 8-ball,” he advised.

He said the Elmira Pioneers already have 35 players signed and all set for the season, and most of the other teams do as well.

“We’re getting a late start (in Batavia) but I know we can get this done and be able to get a top quality team on the field,” he noted, adding that he expects 13 or 14 teams in the league in 2021.

The wood bat league season runs from the end of May into the beginning of August – 56 to 60 games equally divided between home and away contests, Nichols said.

'It's the Community's Ballpark'

Nichols said he is energized by the prospects of duplicating what they have done in Elmira, where attendance at Dunn Field has soared in recent years. The Nichols have been involved with the Pioneers since 2012, taking sole ownership of the team in late 2017.

“We took our team that had averaged about 700 fans a night to 3,000 a night, and we do a lot of promotions – a lot of exciting things,” he said. “A lot of fireworks shows and we really want the community to be involved because it’s their ballpark. We’re the holder of the keys and we want Dwyer Stadium to be a multi-use facility, so we’re going to encourage Little League games and high school games. We want it to be used by everybody and that’s what the park is there for.”

He spoke of the rich history of Batavia baseball.

“Everybody I have talked to in Batavia – everyone’s got a story about the baseball team. They used to go to the field with their grandfather or their grandfather was an original batboy of the team,” he said. “Everyone’s got great stories and memories and we just want to continue the tradition of baseball in Batavia.”

Nichols said he hopes to bring in special events such as games against a club from Canada and also against the Wounded Warriors team.

“You should see the Wounded Warriors; they are just amazing,” he said. “Some of the players have no legs and it’s amazing to see what these guys do. It’s a real baseball game and they have really good players.”

Connection to the Buffalo Sabres

He couldn’t guarantee an appearance by the Wounded Warriors in Batavia this year, but said there will be a Buffalo Sabres alumni softball game and, “if I can pull it off, an alumni hockey game on an outdoor rink at Dwyer Stadium.”

“I have many friends with that (Sabres) organization.Ric Seiling was an ex-roommate of mine, and I’ve already talked to him,” the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada native said.

Nichols made it clear that the success of the franchise hinges upon community involvement.

“We will be knocking on the door of every business owner as we really want the community and the city to get behind it,” he said. “I’m excited about the way things have happened here in Elmira with the team. The fans love it. The players are very accessible and meet with the fans. They’re all just looking to advance their careers.”

He mentioned that since the players will be in Batavia for about 75 days, he will be reaching out to the community to identify some host families.

“These kids will become the fabric of the community, and these players are so much different than athletes of the past. They come in in just incredible shape, and they’re here to work out every single day,” he said, adding that the team’s manager has signed about 20 players at this point.

The Nichols Believe in Giving Back

The Nichols are heavily involved in civic activities in the Elmira area.

On Thursday, Robbie Nichols and 10 of his hockey players participated in a food bank.

“I believe in giving back to the community and we do so in a number of ways,” he said, “including Christmas drives for the needy where we provide food, gloves, hats and other items.”

He and his wife have owned the hockey team for about two and a half years.

“Somehow, 10 years ago I bought a baseball team and then they asked me to bring a hockey team back to the area, and I did that, too,” he offered. “My first love, I guess, is hockey – being from Hamilton – and my wife, Nellie, is a huge Dodgers’ fan from the Los Angeles, California area. And that’s how we came up with CAN-USA Sports LLC (their legal business name).”

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Submitted photos -- Top: Nellie and Robbie Nichols; bottom, crowd at an Elmira Pioneers baseball game.

Previous: Owner of Elmira collegiate baseball league team to make pitch to operate a club in Batavia in 2021

January 7, 2021 - 3:25pm

The Batavia City Council on Monday night will be asked to consider a proposal from the owner/operator of the Elmira Pioneers, a team in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, to place a PGCBL club at Dwyer Stadium for the 2021 summer season.

Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski this morning informed The Batavian that Robbie Nichols will make a presentation during Council’s Special Conference session to take place via Zoom videoconferencing at 7 p.m.

It will be followed by a Business Meeting where the board – if it likes the idea – is expected to vote on a lease agreement with Nichols’ enterprise, known as CAN-USA Sports LLC. Nichols and his wife, Nellie, also own the Elmira Enforcers of the Federal Prospects (Ice) Hockey League.

“Robbie Nichols has been approved by the (PGCB) League to start and operate a team here in Batavia,” Tabelski said. “He has been interested in putting together a second team in the league and, with things happening the way they did with Major League Baseball, he actually had reached out to the (New York-) Penn league, and the NY-P put us in touch with him.”

Tabelski said representatives of other teams contacted her, “but none had league backing already -- nor a record of success in owning a team in this league.”

According to a memo from Tabelski to City Council dated Jan. 4, the terms of a new lease agreement to use Dwyer Stadium are as follows:

  • A five-year lease;
  • Rent from Year 1-3, $1; Year 4, $7,500 (placed into the Dwyer Stadium Capital Reserve Fund); Year 5, $10,000 (placed into the Dwyer Stadium Capital Reserve Fund).
  • Operator pays for the field maintenance and utility costs to operate.
  • Operator will allow use of the field, as appropriate, to community groups, Little League, high schools, etc.

The City has had long history with a Batavia professional baseball franchise, starting in 1939 with the Batavia Clippers as an original member of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York (PONY) League.

The Batavia team later was named the Indians, Pirates, Trojans and Clippers (again) before taking the Muckdogs name in 1998 based on a fan poll that chose the nickname and logo.

In 2019, Batavia celebrated its 80th anniversary as the only founding member of the league still in existence.

Since then, MLB has taken control of Minor League Baseball and discontinued short-season competition, with the Muckdogs not among the teams invited to remain as a Major League affiliate.

Tabelski wrote that the PGCBL was founded in 2010 by eight summer baseball teams across Upstate New York in conjunction with Perfect Game USA, baseball’s premier scouting service. The league’s eight founding members were in Albany, Amsterdam, Cooperstown, Elmira, Glens Falls, Mohawk Valley, Newark and Watertown.

Per its website, current teams are located in Watertown, Adirondack (Boonville), Newark, Mohawk Valley, Utica, Oneonta, Albany, Saugerties, Geneva, Elmira, Amsterdam, Glens Falls and Jamestown.

Due to COVID-19, the league cancelled its 2020 season.

For more information about the league, go to www.pgcbl.com.

A telephone call to Nichols was not returned at the time of the posting of this story.

January 4, 2021 - 12:39pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in Bowling, sports.

Scott Gibson rolled a 300 game this past week in the Wednesday Men's Handicap League at Rose Garden Bowl -- the first at the Bergen bowling center after several perfect games at the former Scopano's Lanes in his hometown of Oakfield.

The 55-year-old right-hander started with 12 strikes in a row on lanes 1-2 before posting games of 231 and 199 for a 730 series. He is averaging 220 in the league after posting a 223 average last season.

In other action, Tony Sprague of Batavia fired a 299 game on Sunday in the T.F. Brown's Adult-Child League at Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia.

Last season, Sprague, 18, rolled a 300 game as a youth bowler at Medina Lanes. He now is bowling as an adult.

For more high scores around the Genesee Region, click on the Pin Points tab at the top of this page.

January 4, 2021 - 8:53am
posted by Mike Pettinella in Bowling, sports.

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Jake Rosenbeck of Medina, bowling in just his third scratch singles event, captured the 67th Genesee Region USBC Scratch Memorial Tournament on Sunday with a 233-212 victory over top-seeded Matt Balduf of Batavia.

Rosenbeck, a strong right-hander with a high-powered release, struck on six of his last eight deliveries – including three strikes in the 10th frame – to close out Balduf for the $600 first prize.

Balduf was the tournament’s high qualifier with an 893 four-game series on Sunday morning, and followed that up with an 882 four-game series in the semifinals to earn the No. 1 seed. He earned $340.

The two-day tournament drew 58 entries – up from 37 when it was held at Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion last year. Thirteen of the bowlers – five from the Saturday 12:30 p.m. squad, four from the Saturday 4 p.m. squad and four from the Sunday 10 a.m. squad -- advanced to the semifinals.

Rosenbeck, 34, a manufacturing group leader at General Motors in Rochester, qualified off the Saturday 12:30 p.m. squad with 859 for four games and then posted 778 in the semifinals to earn the No. 3 seed for the five-bowler stepladder finals.

In the first match, four-time champion Scott Culp of Honeoye Falls defeated 18-year-old Dennis Van Duser of Perry, 231-170, before dropping a 209-185 decision to Rosenbeck.

Rosenbeck then knocked off second-seeded Brady Weber of Perry, 224-186, before meeting Balduf in the title match.

The 25-year-old Weber, who rolled a 275 final game in the semifinals to advance, won $260, while defending champion Culp, 42, pocketed $225 and Van Duser won $200.

He said he was expecting a challenging oil pattern – which it was – and had the mindset to not give away the 1-3 pocket and pick his spares.

“I knew that it was going to be a tough condition out there – as it should be for a scratch tournament -- and I was just trying to make my spares – fill the frames,” Rosenbeck said. “I figured that being on the plus side of 800 after four games would put me in a pretty good spot.”

Using a Roto-Grip Halo throughout the tournament, he played around the third arrow, staying behind the ball for maximum forward revolutions.

“My game is up and in -- not to covering a lot of boards – and that’s where I get my best carry,” he said. “The big hook is not my game. I try to stay behind the ball and not get around it too much.”

The stepladder finals featured a variety of styles – Rosenbeck staying behind the ball; Balduf off the side more; Weber utilizing the contemporary pro release; Culp as the prototypical power player; and Van Duser, a two-hander.

Rosenbeck competed in the tournament last year, but didn’t make the cut. He finished in second place two years ago in the GRUSBC Masters at (then) Scopano’s Lanes in Oakfield.

He and his wife, Kayla, have a son, Henry, almost 2, and are expecting another child in April. He bowls in the Thursday Firefighters League at Medina Lanes.

Balduf, 52, registered several big games, including 253 in qualifying (his 893 was good for a $25 bonus) and 259 and 269 in the semifinals.

Geoff Harloff of Batavia, the leader of the Saturday 4 p.m. squad with 872, fell one pin short of tying Van Duser and Culp for the fourth and fifth spots in the stepladder finals – shooting 771 in the semis. He earned $130.

Mickey Hyde of Le Roy placed seventh at 765 in the semifinal round and won $120.

Other cashers were Brian Weber of Perry, $110; Mike Pettinella of Batavia, $105; Mike Johnson of Batavia, $100; Don Parrott of Warsaw, $95; Chris Huntz of Castile, $90, and Kevin Reigle of Elba, $90.

For tournament statistics, go to www.bowlgr.com.

The Genesee Region USBC Masters is scheduled for Feb. 13-14 at Letchworth Pines in Portageville.

Photo: From left, Jake Rosenbeck, Matt Balduf, Brady Weber, Scott Culp and Dennis Van Duser. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

January 2, 2021 - 3:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, football, batavia.

Photo and information from Batavia resident Ann Hart:

Fun news -- my daughter Nichole Hart (second from left), a die-hard Bills' fan since birth (Bills' last playoff), moved to Hyannis, Ma., after graduating from pharmacy school to start her career in 2016. She has put up with a lot of sympathy from fans of the New England Patriots since then.

Now the tables have turned and she couldn’t be more excited!

So she and her fellow pharmacy friends from Albany, Rochester and Binghamton found a "once-in-a-lifetime" billboard to celebrate! It's in Foxborough, Mass., a town in the Greater Boston area where Gillette Stadium is located --  home of New England Patriots.

"(Nichole) said it was exhilarating standing there with people beeping as they drove by and other fans were coming and going as well, shouting 'Go Bills!' Ann Hart wrote in an email. "Just thought people could use some uplifting news!"

Nichole Hart is a 2010 graduate of Notre Dame High School.

In the photo from left are: Carolyn Enos, Nichole, Courtney Chapman and Ally Jurik.

January 1, 2021 - 6:13pm
posted by Press Release in sports, Batavia Downs, Buffalo Bills Playoff Game, football.

President and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming, Henry Wojtaszek, announced Thursday that they will give tickets to the upcoming Buffalo Bills' Football Playoff Game to frontline workers and first responders in the community.

“We are grateful to the Pegulas and to Governor Cuomo for allowing fans into the stadium for the playoff game," Wojtaszek said. “We wanted to make sure those who have been at the forefront of this pandemic and those keeping us safe during these extraordinary times were considered for this opportunity.

"These folks have made tremendous sacrifices for the greater good of the communities they serve. This offering is just a small part of what we can do to thank them.”

To be considered, Batavia Downs is asking that community members nominate a frontline healthcare worker or first responder by emailing a one paragraph synopsis on why that person should be considered for a ticket. The subject line should read: Ticket Nominee.

Email must also include:

  • The nominee’s name;
  • Job title;
  • Place of employment;
  • The nominee’s phone number and email address.

Nominations can be sent to [email protected] and will only be accepted until 11:59 tonight -- one minute prior to midnight Friday, Jan. 1st.

Nominations will be reviewed and a limited number of nominees will be contacted on Saturday or Sunday if chosen.

“We’re very excited to give these tickets away,” said Ryan Hasenauer, director of Marketing for Batavia Downs. “Once we pick the recipients, we will be contacting each to let them know what they’ll need to do in accordance with the protocols set forth by New York State and the Buffalo Football Team.

Information on this and other ways tickets can be received can also be found on a post on their Facebook page.

January 1, 2021 - 12:12pm
posted by Press Release in Bowling, sports.

Update 6 p.m.:The 12:30 p.m. squad is currently full at 28 bowlers.

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Press release:

The Genesee Region USBC is kicking off the new year with the 67th Scratch Memorial Tournament on Saturday and Sunday at Perry Bowling Center.

The singles event features three four-game qualifying squads -- 12:30 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday -- followed by the semifinals and finals on Sunday afternoon. Entry fee is $55 ($50 for reentry).

Currently, 24 bowlers are signed up for the first squad, which means that four openings remain. Plenty of openings are available on the other two squads.

One in five bowlers from each squad (rounding up) will advance to the four-game semifinals. Bowlers with the top five semifinal scores will advance to the stepladder finals.

The top 60-and-over bowler not making the cut will advance to the semifinals unless a 60-and-over makes the cut outright.

To enter, contact Mike Pettinella, GRUSBC association manager, at: [email protected] or at (585) 861-0404.

December 28, 2020 - 2:24pm

will_burke_.jpgAlexander resident Will Burke said his life has been a whirlwind since an unexpected introduction to the sport of rugby six years ago.

“It has been a wild ride, man,” Burke offered – and it is bound to continue for at least another year as he embarks on his first season as a member of the Dallas Jackals, one of 13 franchises of the Major League Rugby professional league.

Burke, a four-year standout at the University of Buffalo, where he played under Coach Mike Hodgins of Batavia, is part of an elite group of American-born rugby players to make it to the pro ranks.

The 6-foot-1, 255-pound former high school football player and wrestler is expected to anchor the Jackals’ front line as a tighthead prop, a position that calls for serious strength and power.

“I’m currently working with John Opfer (owner/director of Proformance Sports Training), who trains NFL players and college prospects that are going into the NFL draft, and will be doing that until I leave for preseason camp (next month),” said Burke, 24, a 2014 graduate of Alexander Central School.

Burke’s first regular season game is scheduled for March 20 in Los Angeles against the LA Giltinis, like Dallas, a 2021 expansion team.

The league has television contracts with CBS Sports Network and Fox Sports, and all games are available for viewing on ESPN+, a streaming subscription service.

Burke, a son of Nelson and Edie Burke, said he has received quite a few lumps since taking up the sport in his freshman year at UB.

“No major injuries but I broke my nose three times and I’ve dislocated about every one of my fingers and broken a couple,” he said. “And I separated my shoulder once in college, but as far as semi-professional and professional, I’ve not. It’s probably the most physical sport, in my opinion, for a contact sport next to wrestling or mixed martial arts.”

The physicality is no more pronounced than at the front of the scrum or lineout, as it is called, where all of the 15 players from both teams assemble in what resembles a pushing-and-shoving match to advance the ball.

“My main job is to anchor down the scrum against the opposing team – win the scrum or secure the ball if it’s our scrum,” he said. “It has changed over the years, and now the props are the most physical guys on the field. They’re in charge of making a lot of tackles and taking hard lines.”

Burke said he didn’t know much about the sport as he entered UB, but that all changed one day when he was walking through the student union.

“A guy came up to me and asked me if I was on the football team, and I said no. And he said why don’t you come out and try to play rugby. I kind of debated about it a little bit and I remember calling my brother, and asking him if he thought this is worth my time,” he recalled.

He decided to attend a practice session and kept coming back. After a few weeks, he was in Hodgins’ starting lineup and playing in a game against the Army team at West Point.

“I think I played 15 minutes and the next game I played a whole half (40 minutes) and by the third game, I was starting,” he said. “And I haven’t looked back from there.”

Burke played rugby all four years at UB, where he was captain of the squad for two of the seasons. He earned honorable mention for All-Conference in Rugby East and also was selected for the All-Conference Rugby East first team.

From there, he traveled to play some exhibition games as MLR attempted to organize into a full-fledge pro league, and also competed with the Buffalo Rugby Club, helping the team to a national ranking of seventh in Men’s D2 rugby.

He then was invited to play for a junior team in Ireland, but ran into visa issues and abruptly had to return to the states.

“I had to be sent home, leaving 90 percent of my stuff there,” he said. “I had a Republic of Ireland visa but was staying in Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.”

Devastated over the turn of events, Burke regrouped and caught on with the MLR’s Rugby United New York team during its training camp as a “trial player” (the equivalent of a walk-on).

“I spent the rest of my savings on an Airbnb as one of 11 trial players (at the camp) in Staten Island,” he said. “I was the only one to get a contract.”

Burke played well in the first two games of the 2020 MLR season that was shortened due to COVID-19. As a free agent, he then decided to sign a one-year contract with the Dallas team.

He said his rookie deal calls for a salary of $30,000 plus the team covers his living expenses. He said he hopes to prove himself this season and be able to sign a contract the following year with a substantial raise.

He said he chose Dallas because of the area’s commitment to expanding the sport.

“There were other teams interested but Dallas has a big focus on promoting American rugby and American rugby players,” he said. “Most of the teams have junior clubs -- developmental teams to support the major league teams.”

MLR requires that about 80 to 85 percent of the players have to be foreigners, Burke said, which makes it tough for American-born players to make it.

“The truth is that it is really hard for American guys to get that far, but it’s starting to happen with the developmental teams that look for Americans that can play rugby,” he explained, adding that the foreign players (from the United Kingdom and Ireland, for example) are experienced and raise the quality of competition.

Burke said he loves the sport “because of the culture and camaraderie that didn’t match any team sport I played before.”

“Rugby is unlike any other team sport in the world, you truly need all 15 men on the pitch working together to find success. It is a shoulder to shoulder sport with no room for arrogant and cocky players,” he said.

Hodgins said Burke has put in the time and effort to be successful as a professional.

“Will is positioned at the front of the scrum, where bulk and strength are needed,” said Hodgins, who has coached at UB for 11 years and also coaches varsity rugby at McQuaid High School in Rochester. “He definitely has a bright future as long as he stays healthy.”

Burke said his goals include competing on the world stage.

“There’s a chance to go and play for the national team in the next World Cup or the following World Cup – that’s every four years. So, that would be another thing and another pay raise if I can eventually prove myself in this league and then I could make the World Cup team and play for my country,” he said.

The next Rugby World Cup tournament is set for 2023 in France.

December 27, 2020 - 7:14pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, Bowling.

Batavians Paul Spiotta and Kyle Kraus flirted with 300 games this week, reaching 10 strikes in a row before being stopped despite putting the ball in the 1-3 pocket on the 11th delivery.

Competing against each other in the Turnbull Heating Triples League at Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia, both right-handers rolled 289 games -- with the 63-year-old Spiotta's coming in the third game to cap a league-high 775 series and the 35-year-old Kraus' coming in the first game en route to a 694 series.

Spiotta (who posted 238-248 in the first two games) was stymied by a stubborn 7-pin while Kraus (who finished with 231-174) left a 4-pin.

Also in the league, Chris Bailey of Le Roy finished with a 273 game for a 736 series.

Note: The three-person team league has an opening for one team when it begins its second half on Jan. 5. Call Mancuso's at 343-1319 for details. 

Elsewhere around the Genesee Region USBC, Rodney Jopson kept the hot hand with 277--741 in the Wednesday Men's Handicap League at Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen, where he is aveaging 231, and Tony Sprague made it two straight 700 series with a 750 effort in the T.F. Brown's Adult-Child League at Mancuso's.

For a list of high scores, click on the Pin Points tab at the top of this page.

SCRATCH MEMORIAL IS NEXT WEEKEND

The 67th GRUSBC Scratch Memorial Tournament is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Perry Bowling Center.

Squad times for the singles tournament are 12:30 and 4 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday, with the semifinals and finals to follow.

Entry fee is $55 and first place, based on 72 entries, is $800. To enter, contact Mike Pettinella at (585) 861-0404 or by email at: [email protected].

December 24, 2020 - 2:12pm
posted by Press Release in Bowling, sports, Genesee Region USBC.

sr_masters_2020_1.jpgPress release from Genesee Region USBC:

Mickey Hyde of Le Roy was a model of consistency on Sunday as he captured the Genesee Region USBC Senior Masters Bowling Tournament for the second straight year, this time at his hometown Legion Lanes.

Hyde pocketed the $250 first-place check along with a plaque and paid entry to next month’s GRUSBC Scratch Memorial Tournament with a 200-184 victory over Batavian Mike Pettinella in the title match.

The 54-year-old right-hander, manager of Tompkins Bank of Castile in Le Roy, won the 2019 event at Mount Morris Lanes.

Pettinella, a two-time GRUSBC Senior Masters champion (2007 and 2011), earned $150 for placing second.

Hyde led the three-game qualifying round with a 626 score, one of only five series of 600 or better on challenging lane conditions.

He went on to post 466 in the 12-bowler, two-game second round and then rolled a 181 game in the six-bowler, one-game semifinals to earn the No. 1 seed in the three-bowler stepladder finals based on his six-game total.

Six of the 12 bowlers advanced in the second round and three of the six remaining bowlers advanced in the semifinals.

In the title match, Hyde doubled in the eighth and ninth frame to secure the victory after a pocket split in the eighth frame hurt Pettinella’s chances.

“I thought the shot was very tough but it was really fair, and there was less oil than normal,” said Hyde, who is the secretary of the Thursday night American Legion Men’s League in Le Roy. “It was fair because you were penalized if you missed your mark.”

He said he used a Hammer Black Widow ball during the qualifying round and a Black Hammer urethane ball for the second round and finals.

“I liked my chances because I knew it wasn’t going to be a carry contest and you had to be able to pick your corner pins,” he said. “It was a nice surprise to win and thanks to Paul Spiotta for running a great tournament.”

Pettinella qualified in the 10th position with a 563 series but then posted 418 in the second round (to capture the sixth and final spot) and 224 in the semifinals – the only bowler of the six to hit the 200 mark.

In the opening match of the finals, the second-seeded Pettinella, a GRUSBC Hall of Famer, defeated No. 3 seed Brett Van Duser of Perry, 202-192, with Van Duser being victimized by a split in the 10th frame.

Van Duser won $100 for his third-place finish.

Other cashers were as follows:

John Lowe of Le Roy, Rick Pernicone of Dansville (who had the high second-round score of 499), and Al Vlietstra of Geneseo, $70 each.

Spiotta of Batavia, Matt Balduf of South Byron, Jim Pursel of Batavia, Mike Johnson of Batavia, John LaGeorge of Retsof, Paul Bacon of Lockport, $50 each.

Mike Kime of Honeoye Falls, $35 (lost to Van Duser in a one-game rolloff after tying for the 12th and final qualifying spot).

The tournament drew 34 entries.

Submitted photo -- Mike Pettinella, left, and Mickey Hyde.

ALBION DUO WINS NO-TAP EVENT

Bill Logan and Jim Passarell of Albion combined for a 1,725 score with handicap to win the first GRUSBC No-Tap Doubles Tournament on Saturday at Medina Lanes.

Logan rolled 890 and Passarell had 820 for 1,710 scratch in the event, which awards a strike for a first ball of nine or 10 pins. The victory was worth $320.

Seven other teams (out of the 33 entries) cashed as follows:

Kyle and Mike Johnson, Batavia – 1,596 -- $220;

Chase Cone, Bergen, and Josh Elliott, Attica – 1,592 -- $160;

Tom Rohl, Le Roy, and Mark Brown, Attica – 1,586 -- $130;

Samantha and Mickey Hyde, Le Roy – 1,576 -- $120;

John Wolff and Bill Neubert, Batavia – 1,571 -- $110;

Gary Kuchler, Batavia, and Frank Jarkiewicz, Byron – 1,569 -- $100;

Paul Bacon, Lockport, and Derek Leach, Batavia – 1,567 -- $90.

TWO ASSOCIATION TOURNAMENTS IN JANUARY

Three GRUSBC tournaments are on next month’s schedule:

-- Jan. 2-3, Scratch Memorial at Perry Bowling Center;

-- Jan. 9-10. Adult-Junior at Mount Morris Lanes;

-- Jan. 23-24, Youth Team at Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia.

For more information, go to www.bowlgr.com.

December 20, 2020 - 10:36pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, Bowling.

Youth bowlers stole the spotlight in Genesee Region USBC league bowling action this week.

In the Saturday Junior Mixers League at Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion, 13-year-old Ryleigh Culver put together games of 266, 247 and 238 for a 751 series -- his first USBC-certified 700 series.

Bowling on lanes 5-6, the Medina right-hander had no open frames over the three games using two new 15-pound bowling balls he got as early Christmas presents from his dad and grandfather -- the Storm Axiom and Roto-Grip Hustle.

In the T.F. Brown's Adult-Child League at Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia, 18-year-old Tony Sprague of Batavia fired 268-224-255--747 to lead all bowlers.

And in the Genesee Region Youth Travel League today at Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen, 15-year-old Gavin Baney of Holley finished with a 278 game for a 729 series to lead the Oak Orchard Bowl tream over Oak Orchard Bowl II by a 26.5-1.5 margin. His first two games were 221 and 230.

Teammate Jesse Keller chipped in with a 649 series, his best three-game set ever.

In adult competition, William Yates of Churchville rolled a 299 game and 760 series to lead the Thursday Owls League at Rose Garden Bowl. 

The 64-year-old right-hander left an 8-pin on a light hit on the final ball.

In the Turnbull Heating Triples League at Mancuso's, Nate Cordes of Batavia started with 266 and 287 en route to a 763 series. 

For a list of high scores around the Genesee Region, click on the Pin Points tab at the top of this page.

December 18, 2020 - 12:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, le roy hs, sports, swimming.

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Le Roy's varsity girls swimming team hosted Notre Dame for their season and home opener on Thursday, winning 102-74.

Highlights:

  • Natalee Shepard, 100 Freestyle 101.65
  • Peyton Koukides, 100 Breaststroke 1:20.62
  • Shepard & Koukides were on the 200 M & 400 Freestyle winning relays

Information and photos by Tim McArdle

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December 15, 2020 - 12:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Despite the many challenges faced in every aspect of the business from day one right through the final race due to the global coronavirus pandemic, Batavia Downs was able to race safely throughout the duration of its dates and just completed one of its most successful meets with regards to nightly handle. 

“The 2020 season was a rousing success because all parties involved in the racing product worked together to insure the health and safety of everyone on the grounds at all times,” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live racing at Batavia Downs. “With the help and cooperation of the New York State Gaming Commission and the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association headed by Bruce Tubin, we were able to formulate a safety plan that got us through the entire meet without incident.

"That in turn allowed us to engage our customers with quality racing all year and put up record breaking betting numbers despite the absence of a live crowd. That is an accomplishment that all of our racing participants should be proud of.”

Henry F. Wojtaszek, president and CEO of Batavia Downs added “I am very pleased with another flawless race season at the Downs as everyone pulled together to ensure the facility was safe for our horsemen and horse women, staff and customers. Safety during COVID was our number one goal while still offering a fun, family-oriented and exciting harness racing atmosphere.” 

Despite racing 21 less dates than 2019, bataviabets.com, the online betting arm of Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB), saw a huge 67-percent increase in total handle on Batavia Downs and the nightly handle average saw a spectacular 151-percent increase during the 42-night schedule.

The increase exhibited the strong following the track has via its export signal customers and their taking advantage of the generous monthly rewards of up to 8 percent on their wagers through the bataviabets.com wagering platform. 

Another contributing factor was the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Program that Batavia frequently utilized during the meet. It helped expose the product to a greater audience through free program pages and enhanced betting pools and the track saw major handle increases on nights where the Strategic Wagers were offered. 

The OTB handle which includes Batavia bets and our EZ-Bets rose by 52 percent, the track’s export handle grew by 35 percent and the total betting that included only very limited on-track betting in the clubhouse rose by 21 percent.

Scott P. Kiedrowski, vice-president of Operations said “We are thrilled with our numbers for the 2020 meet here at Batavia Downs. All of our staff did exceptional work under the most difficult circumstances.”

Haight added it was a record total betting number since WROTB reopened the track in 2002.

The dash winning driver of the meet was Jim Morrill Jr. who notched his third driving title at the Downs. In 408 starts Morrill won 102 races with 72 seconds and 53 thirds for a .391 UDR and winnings of $507,686 for the meet. Morrill also scored his 7,500th career victory at the Downs this past November.

Finishing second was Billy Davis Jr. who had 486 starts with 91 wins, 87 seconds and 54 thirds and $422,477 in purses, and Drew Monti who had 404 starts with 75 wins, 71 seconds and 62 thirds with $374,608 in earnings rounded out the top three.   

The dash winning trainer of the meet was Gerry Sarama who captured his first conditioning title at Batavia. Not only did he win 64 races, finish second 36 times and third 28 more for winnings of $286,068, Sarama also registered career training win 1,000 at Batavia this year. 

Shawn McDonough was second with 31 wins, 24 seconds and 39 thirds out of 214 starts with $138,544 in purses and Maria Rice was third with 30 wins, 30 seconds and 20 thirds from 174 starts and $184,833 in winnings. 

Upon approval from the New York State Gaming Commission, live racing will resume at Batavia Downs on Wednesday, July 21.

December 13, 2020 - 8:19pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in Bowling, sports, notify.

Jeremy Vallance of Batavia doubled his pleasure on the bowling lanes this week, registering a 300 game, 290 game and two outstanding three-game series while competing in two leagues at Mancuso Bowling Center.

The 43-year-old right-hander began the week with a 290-236-258--784 effort in the Mancuso Real Estate Monday Doubles League -- using a Storm Crux Prime ball for his highest series ever -- and followed that up with a 300-214-262--776 performance in the Toyota of Batavia Thursday 5-Man League -- using a DVD Turmoil. The perfect game is his third United States Bowling Congress-certified 300.

An employee of Summit Lubricants in Batavia, Vallance, a bowler for more than 30 years, raised his average ot 231 in the Monday league.

Vallance was one of several Genesee Region USBC bowlers who put up gaudy numbers over the past seven days.

  • Frank Jarkiewicz of Byron notched his first certified 300 game in the Thursday Owls League at Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen, posting 258-300-213 for a 771 series on lanes 3-4.. A furniture delivery driver for W.B. Mason, the 50-year-old righty used a Brunswick Melee Jab bowling ball.
  • Laurie Morgante of Bergen fired a 258 game and 716 series to lead the way in the Wednesday Handicap League at Rose Garden Bowl.
  • Mike Pettinella of Batavia had games of 276 and 269 in a 772 series in the Turnbull Heating Triples League at Mancuso's, using the just-released MOTIV Fatal Venom ball to raise his average to 234.
  • Mark Brown of Attica finished with a 290 for a 762 series in the Toyota of Batavia league, while Rich Wagner of Batavia and Rick Underhill of Batavia each recorded 731 series while Mark Bisig of Le Roy rolled 731.
  • In senior league action at Gates Bowl in Rochester, Kevin Gray Sr. of Honeoye Falls, a GRUSBC member, notched a 300 game on Thursday, his seventh.

For a list of high scores, click on the Pin Points tab at the top of this page.

Two Genesee Region USBC tournaments are on this weekend's schedule -- a handicap no-tap doubles at Medina Lanes and the Senior Masters at Legion Lanes in Le Roy. Also, the GR Youth Travel League will be bowling on Sunday afternoon at Rose Garden Bowl.

For more information, go to the Genesee Region USBC website.

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