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September 25, 2018 - 10:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, baseball, sports.

Press release:

The Batavia Muckdogs and Miami Marlins have announced a two-year extension to their Player Development Contract (PDC). The previous agreement expired following the 2018 season. With this affiliation extension, Miami Marlins Prospects will continue their development in Batavia through the 2020 season.

“After an improved season on the field, we are excited for the future of the Miami Marlins and are looking forward to continuing our relationship with the extension of our Player Development Contract for the next two seasons,” said Batavia’s Dave Chase. “As we continue our affiliation with the Marlins, we’re focused on further enhancing the ballpark and creating a first-class experience for Marlins prospects and our loyal fans." 

The Miami Marlins and Batavia Muckdogs original affiliation agreement began in the 2013 season. In the six seasons since arriving in Batavia, there have been 12 former Muckdogs to make their Major League debut.

“This extension allows our future Major Leaguers to continue their development in Batavia against top-level competition in the New York-Penn League,” said Miami Marlins Director of Player Development Dick Scott.

September 8, 2018 - 9:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, batavia, notify.

Pawtucket, R.I., doesn't look like a good bet for a future home of the Batavia Muckdogs franchise according to a report in the Providence Journal.

A PawSox spokesperson said Thursday the organization has no current plans to acquire any other baseball franchises and move them to the city as a sort of parting gift. Franchise Chairman Larry Lucchino and President Charles Steinberg are focused on building a 10,000-seat stadium in Worcester’s Canal District and redeveloping the surrounding area. 

The Pawtucket mayor's office also told the Journal that no ownership group has contacted the city about using McCoy Stadium once it's vacant in 2021.

And if another owner wanted to bring a team into McCoy, they would face substantial renovation costs for the aging complex.

The cracking concrete and widespread leaking ceilings and floors are among the issues faced by any tenants, as the stadium wrapped up its 77th season of baseball earlier this week. Renovation costs would run into the millions of dollars, and the day-to-day costs of maintaining the playing surface and surrounding grounds run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As previously reported by The Batavian, there would also be territorial agreements to overcome in Pawtucket, which is Red Sox territory. The Red Sox currently have an affiliate to Lowell and if the Muckdogs moved to Pawtucket, Lowell would have to move, putting the New York-Penn League in the same bind it has with Batavia -- where to locate the team that doesn't run afoul of territory restrictions and has a baseball-ready facility.

September 6, 2018 - 6:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, news, batavia, muckdogs.

It still remains likely that the Muckdogs will be back in Batavia for the 2019 season but General Manager Dave Chase said today he won't be back.

"It was a one-year deal," Chase said. "I finished that year. Ben and I have talked about me continuing as a consultant for some period of time but I don’t think I’ll be here next season."

Chase has lived at the Quality Inn & Suites this summer but at one point thought about renting an apartment downtown with the idea of staying longer but decided against it.

"I will admit I go back and forth," Chase said. "There are parts of Batavia that I really like but I did it for a year and that’s what I wanted to do and it was a difficult year, professionally and personally."

Chase said he has had medical issues doing the year that made things more difficult.

"The reality is this is my third city in four years," Chase said. "I’ve sort of developed a reputation of going into troubled markets and none of them have failed yet so I might have one or two more years of that lifestyle left in me."

He thinks he will leave Batavia in good shape but the day the Muckdogs leave Batavia is still close at hand. It gives the team two or three more years before moving.

"That's still better than it was a year ago," he said.

At the start of the season, associates of one of baseball's top executives, Larry Lucchino, former president and CEO of the Boston Red Sox and co-owner of the AAA team in Pawtucket, inquired about the Batavia franchise, Chase said.

The scenario discussed at that time involved the Muckdogs either moving to Pawtucket or Worcester. 

There have been no further discussions since but it's been announced that the Pawtucket franchise will move to Worcester, where a new stadium is being built.

The problem with any such move is that the Red Sox have territorial rights over the area and currently, the NYPL team in that market is Lowell, a Red Sox affiliate. For the Muckdogs to move to Pawtucket, the team would need to become the NYPL Red Sox affiliate and the Lowell franchise would have to move to another city.

One reason the Muckdogs haven't moved yet is there appears to be no city in the Northeast that has the facility and market availability to accommodate a short season Class A team, so if Lowell had to move the league would face the same difficulty in trying to relocate that team.

The earliest, apparently, any of this can happen, is 2021.

Meanwhile, the affiliate agreement between Batavia (which has not gone bankrupt, contrary to a story in the Lowell Sun), and the Marlins is up for renewal. The renewal is expected to take place by the end of the month. The length of any such agreement could complicate a move by Batavia to New England.

Chase is confident the Marlins will return to Batavia in 2019. He said when the team packed up after the last game, they left a lot of equipment behind.

"That seems to indicate a desire to come back," Chase said.

September 3, 2018 - 11:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, baseball, sports.

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On the final day of the season, the Batavia Muckdogs had a chance to play spoiler against their Thruway rivals, the Auburn Doubledays, but after falling behind 8-2 after three innings, the team couldn't crawl its way back and lost 8-5.

Starter Josh Roberson (1-1) was lifted after the second inning. He gave up four runs. Evan Estes gave up four runs in the third inning. Tyler Kolek came on and stopped the bleeding, giving up only one hit over three innings, striking out three.

The offense was led by Demetrius Sims, who was 2-4 with two doubles and two runs scored (seen in the top photo scoring in the fifth inning).

Sean Reynolds was 0-4 but finished the season as the league leader in home runs (17), RBIs (52), Runs (49) and walks (42). He's the team leader in stolen bases with 13 (also the highest success rate in the league). He is the only player in 2018 to play every inning of all 76 games. He also finishes with a batting average .193 and a new league record of 133 strikeouts.

With the win, Auburn becomes the wildcard team in the NYPL playoffs.

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September 2, 2018 - 6:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

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Sean Reynolds doubled and tripled Sunday afternoon, driving in four runs, to lift the Batavia Muckdogs past the Auburn Doubledays 5-4 in the second-to-last game of the regular season at Dwyer Stadium.

Reynolds (shown swatting his triple in the third inning, second photo) now has 52 RBIs on the season to lead the league. He also struck out twice, extending his record-breaking K total to 131 (the previous NYPL record was 117 set in 1982 (previous story)).

Bryce Howe started and tossed the first four frames, giving up two runs and striking out seven. The win went to Elkin Alcala (4-2). Jameson McGrane got his third save despite giving up two runs in the ninth.

Davis Bradshaw, an 11th-round pick from Missouri, who has been batting leadoff and hitting .333 since joining the team three weeks ago, had two hits and scored a run.

The Muckdogs close out the season tomorrow with a Labor Day game that starts at 1:05 p.m.

Top Photo: Bradshaw singles safe after trying to score from third on a groundball to short. Home plate umpire Roberto Pattison disagreed with Bradshaw's assessment of the play, ruling that Doubledays catcher Wilmer Perez applied the tag in time.

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Bryce Howe

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Bradshaw in the first inning stroked a ground ball down the third base line for a double.

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Ronal Reynoso with a sacrifice bunt.

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Bubba Hollins

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Reynolds at first.

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August 29, 2018 - 7:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, muckdogs, sports, notify.

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Right now, it looks like there will be professional baseball in Batavia in 2019, according to General Manager Dave Chase.

As the team heads into its final week of the 2018 season (barring a playoff appearance), Chase said last night that he's pretty confident the team will be back -- he gave it a 90 to 95 percent chance -- and he said he's getting good signals from league officials.

“We do have a draft of the 2019 schedule and we’re on it, so I’ll take that as a sign we’re playing," Chase said.

The NYPL took over ownership of the Muckdogs early in 2018 and hired Chase, with decades of experience in Minor League baseball, to run the team. He promised to improve on-field playing conditions and in-stands fan experience. He thinks both goals were achieved.

"The team has played much better," Chase said. "We don’t win a lot at home but we’re usually in it in 7th, 8th, and 9th inning and we believe if you’re not going to win them, at least be in them, and then when people go home, they’ll forget whether you won or lost, they’ll just know they had something to cheer about late in the game."

Attendance continues to be a concern but Chase said some of the attendance problems can be blamed on the late start he and the rest of the front office got on preparing for 2018. Tickets sales, including season ticket sales, started later than normal and there was no time to push group sales. While support from the local business community was very good this year, Chase said, the staff needs more time than they had in 2018 to work on obtaining sponsorships.

The biggest improvement has been on the field, especially the infield. In April, the infield was laser-leveled with the help of Batavia Turf and DuraEdge and the infield dirt was replaced with the same mixed by the Miami Marlins on their home field. Joe Mogavero took care of the field for more than the first half of the season and then Cooper Thomas finally got his visa to fly in from Australia and become the new head groundskeeper at Dwyer Stadium.

The improvements have been noticeable by players, coaches, and the front office, especially since Cooper Thomas joined the staff.

"Cooper was by far a step in the right direction," Chase said. "He has a vision. He knows what he wants. The question will be whether I can afford it but we are talking about him coming back in April.

That's well in advance of the 2019 season, but not as soon as Chase would like to get him to come back to Batavia.

"I tried to get him to come in March but he said his heart would break if he had to look at a baseball field covered in snow," Chase said.

Manager Mike Jacobs took over the team in 2017 and returned in 2018. He said the improvements on the field and off have been welcome by both him and the players.

"It’s been great, just even on the field, new dirt, finally got our regular head grounds crew guy and he’s been great, Cooper," Jacobs said. "Since he's been here, the surface has played extremely well compared to what it was last year. They’ve made improvements inside the clubhouses on both sides. There are still things to touch up but overall I can’t complain. It’s been great."

The field is also getting high marks from the players, especially those who played on it in 2017 and came back in 2018. Both Demetrius Sims and Sean Reynolds said the improvement was noticeable on the first day of the season and the field has only gotten better as the season has gone along.

"We always looked forward to playing on the road last year but with the improvements from last year to this year, it’s been a lot better with the surface and all the upgrades to the field," Sims said.

Reynolds said he's impressed with the work Thomas has done since he joined the team.

"(He) has done an unbelievable job making sure the field is in shape every night," Reynolds said. "The surface itself is 10 times better than it was last year. Last year it was like, you didn’t know if you were going to be playing on gravel or sand every night. That’s been great."

While Chase is also pretty confident the Marlins will be the Major League parent of the Muckdogs again in 2019, that decision won't be made until the middle of September or later.

Jacobs said he thinks the Marlins should come back to Batavia and neither Sims nor Reynolds expressed any reservations about the team returning.

The one thing they all want to see is more fan support.

"We don’t have the biggest crowds," Jacobs said. "I would say this year we’ve had bigger crowds then what had in the past and that’s a testament to the front office here in Batavia, whether through advertising or whatever to get fans in the stadium. You look at a night like tonight and it was pretty filled up for a Tuesday.  I know they’re trying and I would like to see us be able to come back."

Reynolds said if Batavians want to keep professional baseball in Batavia, they probably need to come to more games.

"Obviously, places like State College and Mahoning Valley, Tri-City, wherever else, they have a pretty cool set up compared to this," Reynolds said. "I think it’s just a matter of people getting out to the game. I know every year there’s kind of deal where it’s like nobody wants baseball in Batavia to leave because it’s a staple of minor league baseball but at the same time if you don’t want it to leave then, you know, you’ve got to show a little bit of support."

The fan support, he said, matters to the players. There should be more games like the July 3 match against West Virginia when Dwyer was packed.

"There was, what, 2,500 people (ed. a little over 2,300) here, I think, and that was incredible because they were all cheering and they were chanting for us to win," Reynolds said. "That’s what real baseball should feel like."

If asked by a prospect just starting out his career next year whether Batavia was a good place to play ball, Sim said he would say yes, but with a caveat.

"It depends on where you’re from," Sims said. "If you’re a big city guy, then you’ve kind of got to adapt to the area and what’s around, but it’s been more than welcoming to be back here."

Top photo: Manager Mike Jacobs in the dugout on opening night.

August 29, 2018 - 4:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, baseball, sports, news, Sean Reynolds.

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Muckdogs Manager Mike Jacobs says Sean Reynolds, is, without a doubt, his most valuable player in 2018.

That might surprise anybody who knows that Reynold's has one of the lowest batting averages in the NY-Penn League (.192, fourth lowest of qualifying players) and has already broken the league's single-season record for most strikeouts (currently, 121, with nine games to go, breaking the previous record of 117 set in 1982).

But Reynolds also leads the league in home runs (16), RBIs, (47), Runs scored (47), base on balls (40) and leads his team in stolen bases (13). He's also the only player in the NYPL to play every inning of every game (70 so far).

"Without a doubt, he’s having a great year," Jacobs said. "It’s fun to watch. It’s fun to watch the progression of watching him continue to get better every day."

This is the second season in Batavia for the 20-year-old Southern Californian who was a fourth-round draft pick right out of Redondo Union High School for the Marlins in 2016.

The Marlins will be patient with their young power bat, Jacobs said. 

"What he can bring to the table you just can’t find that every day," Jacobs said. "I think the more he plays, the more games he plays, he will cut down on his strikeouts. I think he will put the ball in play more, and ultimately if he just does that, all those numbers are going to continue to rise."

Reynolds is well aware of his strike out record and his average but he's also pleased with his progress and believes he will continue to improve the more he plays.

"Obviously, that’s the thing going forward in my career that’s going to be the focal point, being able to put the ball in play more," Reynolds said. "Personally, I don’t see any reason why I can’t improve because it’s all about getting at-bats. This is my first full year in a sense of playing over 70 games and getting 300-plus plate appearances."

At 6'7", Reynolds invites comparisons to Dave Kingman, AKA "King Kong," who hit 442 major league home runs over 16 seasons starting in 1971. He also struck out in prodigious numbers (153 times in 1975, when he hit 36 homers for the Mets, and 138 times in 1979 when he hit 48 homers for the Cubs). He finished with .236 career average.

Whether Reynolds makes contact more often, time will tell, but he is arguably already better than Kingman in one key aspect of baseball: Defense. 

Where Kingman was atrocious in the field (career .895 fielding percentage including 3B and outfield) Reynolds is already doing better (.983) and has improved throughout the season.

"A lot of people may not realize it but he’s played outstanding first base for us," Jacobs said.

Jacobs knows a thing or two about hitting the ball hard at the major league level (100 career homers, including 32 for the Marlins in 2008) and Reynolds credits Jacobs for helping him get better.

"Jakes is a big the influence on me, him and Jesus Merchan, our hitting coach," Reynolds said. "He’s been able to help me with things I wouldn’t even think about because he’s played and been around the game for 20-plus years now. He’s been in the big leagues and able to have a lot of success in the big leagues for the time he was there. When I’m not going good, he knows what to say and how to help me out without saying too much, and then when I'm going good, it's a high five when I’m going around third base and that’s all I need."

Reynolds knows he's getting better and he's obviously playing with more confidence.

"It’s funny we should talk about this right now because this was probably my best series of the year," Reynolds said (he had five hits, three homers, six RBIs). "I was more consistently putting bat to ball and making loud outs even if I wasn’t getting on base, so that was good to feel but obviously for every success and every home run there’s been a lot of struggle."

If Reynolds were hitting .250 instead of .192, he would probably already be holding down first base in Greensboro or Jacksonville. As it is, State College last night showed enough respect for his bat that they used a defensive shift on the left-handed hitter, something you rarely if ever see in short-season Class A ball.  

He was also a member of the NYPL's 2018 All-Star Team.

"You look at where he was last year and you look at even where he was in spring training and the improvement is 10 fold," Jacobs said. "He didn’t hit one homer in spring training and he played in a lot of games down there and obviously you see the numbers he’s putting up and, really, the batting average, it is what it is. He has a lot of swing-and-miss but there’s also a lot of damage that’s in that bat."

Photos: File photos by Howard Owens.

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August 29, 2018 - 2:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

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With six games left in the season, including three-straight day games at home, the Batavia Muckdogs are contending for a post-season playoff berth.

They could get there by making up a four-and-a-half-game deficit behind division-leading Mahoning Valley, their next opponent on the road, and three and a half behind Brooklyn in the wildcard race. Any combination of two Muckdog losses or two Mahoning Valley wins would eliminate Batavia in the division (in other words, the Muckdogs must sweep the Scrappers) and in the wild-card race, the magic number is four.

That means, the hometown team can't really afford to lose any of their final six games.

Fortunately, they're the hottest team in the NYPL right now with four straight wins and a 7-3 record over the last 10 games.

"Our fate is in our hands," said manager Mike Jacobs after last night's 8-1 win over State College, completing a three-game sweep of their division rival. "The step coming in and taking care of business these last three games like we have. If continue to play the way we’re playing, it may go down to the very last game and it’s exciting."

Last night, the Muckdogs scored early and scored often, taking a 2-0 lead by the bottom of the first and piling on six more runs in the third.

The first two runs came on a home run by third baseman Bubba Hollins, an undrafted signee of the Marlins from Orchard Park who played college ball at St. Bonaventure University. Hollins is on his second stint with the Muckdogs, after a cup of tea with the team in 2017. This was his first home run with Batavia.

With one out in the third, Hollins drew a walk, setting the table for Sean Reynolds, who whacked his league-leading 16th homer of the season over the right-field wall. 

The rest of the scoring came on walks to Albert Guaimaro and Igor Baez, a double by Ricardo Cespedes, a Luke Jarvis single, and ground out by Davis Bradshaw.

Josh Roberson, from North Carolina, worked five innings, giving up only one run and picking up his first NYPL win on a 1.80 ERA.

Big Texan Tyler Kolek (top photo and second photo) worked two scoreless innings, whiffing three, and Panamanian Humberto Mejia came on for the final two frames and also K'd at trio of Spikes.

The next home game, the final homestand of the season, is Saturday at 1:05 p.m. against Auburn.

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Brayan Hernandez

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Luke Jarvis

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Demetrius Sims at short.

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Albert Guaimaro

August 26, 2018 - 1:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

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Legendary local sports broadcaster Wayne Fuller was honored before Saturday night's Batavia Muckdogs game. Last week, Fuller was inducted into the NYPL Hall of Fame and the league provided the team a plaque that will be placed in the press box at Dwyer Stadium.

Accepting the plaque on behalf of his friends, colleagues, and family were Martha Bailey and Paul Spiotta. Representing the Muckdogs, Brendan Kelly, assistant general manager, left, and Dave Chase, general manager.

The Muckdogs beat Williamsport 4-2, scoring all four runs in the second inning with two outs. Tanner Andrews (2-0) got the win and C.J. Carter picked up the third save.

Batavia is home again this afternoon, starting the final home three-game series of the season, against State College. Game time is 4:05 p.m.

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Bill Hayes, with his grandchildren Joshua Prong, William Hayes Prindle, and Matthew Robert Prindle Jr., threw out the first pitch.

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The Genesee Chorale sang the National Anthem.

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Starting pitcher Chris Vallimont.

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Bubba Hollins, third base, hops as each pitch is delivered.

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Michael Donadio

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Sean Reynolds lead off the 2nd with a double. He was later thrown out in a play at the plate.

August 25, 2018 - 3:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, baseball, youth, muckdogs, batavia.

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About a dozen players and coaches, including manager Mike Jacobs, came out to the ballpark Saturday morning to provide baseball instruction to 30 or so young ballplayers at the Batavia Muckdogs annual youth camp.

Young players were given tips on fielding, hitting, running the bases, and pitching.

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August 24, 2018 - 12:30pm
posted by Steve Ognibene in muckdogs, sports, baseball.

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The Batavia Muckdogs, starting their final homestand of the season spilt a doubleheader with Williamsport on Thursday, losing 3-2 before taking the night-cap 1-0.

Peyton Culbertson was the starting of the nightcap, a seven-inning contest. He pitched three innings and didn't give up a run or a hit. Jameson McGrane gave up two hits and walked one, but also blanked Williamsport and was given credit for the win, making him 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA on the season. Elkin Alcala pitched a perfect seventh for his fifth save.

Sean Reynolds's groundout in the fourth helped Brayan Hernandez score for the game's lone RBI. Reynold's also notched his 114th strikeout of the season, putting him three shy of the league record of 117, set by Dave Cochrane in 1982 when he played for the Little Falls Mets. Reynolds has 41 RBIs on the season and 13 home runs, both tops in the league.

In the first game, Tyler Kolek took the loss, surrendering all of the Crosscutters' three runs in the sixth inning. Davis Bradshaw had two hits and an RBI for the Muckdogs.

Batavia plays the Crosscutters two more times, at 7 o'clock tonight and tomorrow. There's a 4:05 p.m. game Sunday against State College and night games Monday and Tuesday before the Muckdogs head to Mahoning Valley to close out the season.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

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August 21, 2018 - 11:45am
posted by Andy Helwig in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

The second shutout victory of the season came for the Batavia Muckdogs on Monday night. Batavia came away winners 1-0 over West Virginia, their second win by that score this season. The previous one came just two weeks prior at Monongalia County Ballpark.

Chris Vallimont put up another strong start for Batavia. He went three innings deep, without allowing any hits or runs while walking just two batters and striking out two more. Batavia’s bullpen was just as dominant, giving up only four hits in the entire ballgame that went a total of 10 innings.    

Scoring opportunities came few and far between for either team, with just a combined two runners reaching third base through the first nine innings for each team. It was a stellar day on the mound for both squads in the game. Nicholas Economos going six shutout frames again against the Muckdogs in his second start against Batavia this season. He struck out eight batters this time around, one shy of the nine he had at Dwyer Stadium in the first game after the All-Star Break.

After going scoreless through the first nine innings, Batavia broke open the scoring in the top of the 10th inning. The first runner to start on base in extra frames was Bubba Hollins. Michael Donadio came out swinging to open the inning. His ground ball to the right side did the same job as the bunt, moving Hollins over to third base. Gunnar Schubert came to bat looking to plate the first run of the game in the 10th. His ground ball to second base pushed Hollins home in safely under the tag of Black Bear catcher Grant Koch and gave Batavia a 1-0 lead. Jameson McGrane took care of the final six outs of the ballgame for Batavia on the mound. He finished out the ninth inning just giving up a walk, and retired the Black Bears in order in the 10th to seal the win for Batavia, and the first game of the series.

The Muckdogs have now won four of their last six games, all working from lockdown starts from their pitching staff. Game two of the series in Morgantown starts on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. at Monongalia County Ballpark. Alberto Guerrero is scheduled to throw for Batavia, looking for the series win.

August 18, 2018 - 6:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, baseball, sports.

The Muckdogs found both incredible highs and lows in their split doubleheader with the Auburn Doubledays on a late Friday night. The Muckdogs took game one in a sixth-innings comeback that gave them a 4-1 win, but dropped the second game of the twin bill in extras, as Auburn walked it off for the 4-3 win.

The first game saw a pair of incredible starts by both teams’ pitchers. Peyton Culbertson went four innings and allowing just one run. Francys Peguero went the same distance into the game, all shutout frames and gave up just three hits.

In the sixth inning of the first seven-inning game, Batavia found their spark to come back. Ricardo Cespedes took what he thought was ball four, and was able to get to second base because Auburn catcher Adalberto Carillo could not get to the baseball right away sitting at the backstop. He did not go right after it because he had thought the pitch hit Cespedes. Doubleday’s manager Jared Head went to discuss, and in the end, Cespedes was sent back to first after ruling that he was hit by the pitch. It didn’t matter all too much because in the next at-bat, Sean Reynolds blasted his 12th home run of the season to get the Muckdogs in front 2-1.

The rally continued with two outs. Davis Bradshaw, the newest Mukckdog outfielder picked up his second hit of the day with a ground ball through the left side hole. He then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Gunnar Schubert walked and took second on that same wild pitch. Both Bradshaw and Schubert would get home on two more wild pitches from Colin Morse to put Batavia in front 4-1.    

Jameson McGrane and Zach Wolf came in to finish the final three innings of game one. They were both locked in, not allowing a run to score, winning just the second game of the season against the Doubledays.

Game two did not fare as well for the Muckdogs. It was another low-scoring game that did not see runs until the seventh inning. Again, the starters Bryce Howe and Angell Guillen held their opposition scoreless in their starts. Dylan Cyphert was able to lock down the Doubledays as well, setting up for Batavia to take the lead and the win in the last inning.

Angel Guillen, on the other side, went six shutout innings in his second spot start of the season. However, Tanner Driskill could not be as dominant.

The first runs of the game came from Batavia’s bats. Bubba Hollins notched his second single of the day for Batavia with one out in the top of the seventh. That brought Michael Donadio to the dish. He clubbed a monster home run over the right field wall to give the Muckdogs the lead, plus an insurance run.

The bottom of the seventh did not go as well. Elkin Alcala came on looking for his fifth save of the season. He allowed the first four batters to reach base, partially due in part to an error from Alcala trying to start a double play at second base. Jose Sanchez hit a line drive single up the middle to score the tying run. He would make his way to third as the winning run, but Alcala did get out of the jam by striking out Israel Pineda.           

In extra innings, where the Muckdogs are now 2-3 on the season, Gerardo Nunez reached base on his fielder’s choice bunt, that set up Brayan Hernandez to drive in Pablo Garcia to put the Muckdogs back in front 3-2. Batavia loaded the bases later in the inning after a Sean Reynolds walk, but could not cash in, which proved to be costly.

The bottom of the eighth did not see a single out recorded for Batavia. Pablo O’Connor was swinging to start off the inning, and a ground ball that skipped off of Nunez’ glove put runners on the corners with no outs. Jamori Blash drove in the tying run, putting the winning run on second base. Carson Shaddy drew a walk to load the bases, still with no outs. It felt more of a matter of when, not if, the Doubledays would score that run. Justin Connell had the answer: a four-pitch walk to walk it off for the Doubledays, and win 4-3.

The second day and third game of the series pickup with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch in Auburn. The final game of the series comes Sunday, before Batavia heads back to West Virginia for a three-game set with the Black Bears.

August 17, 2018 - 4:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, baseball, sports.

Press release:

Youth Baseball Clinic provides an opportunity to learn from the pros and enjoy exclusive perks as a clinic participant.

The Batavia Muckdogs (Class A Short Season Affiliate of the Miami Marlins) and Genesee County’s only professional sports franchise have announced the return of the popular Youth Baseball Clinic.

The 2018 clinic will take place on Saturday, Aug. 25th from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Dwyer Stadium. The clinic is open to children ages 6 – 14 and will feature a day full of on-field instruction under the leadership of Muckdogs Manager and former Major League Baseball All-Star Mike Jacobs.

The clinic will also provide instruction for youth baseball players from current Muckdogs coaches and players. The clinic will cover baseball fundamentals and will allow participants the chance to learn various aspects of the game in individual stations and drills.

The cost of the clinic is $50 per child and includes additional perks and the chance to take the field with the team for the National Anthem prior to the 7:05 game vs. Williamsport (Phillies) that evening.

Registration forms are due on Thursday, Aug 24th, and available at Dwyer Stadium Mon-Fri during normal business hours or you can register your child by calling 585-483- DOGS (3647). Space is limited.

Clinic Highlights and Schedule of Events

Check-in will begin at Dwyer Stadium on Aug. 25th at 9:30 a.m. with the clinic beginning at 10. On-field instruction will take place from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Lunch will be provided following the clinic.

All participants will receive a camp T-shirt and Muckdogs logo baseball.

In addition, each child will receive a ticket to the 7:05 Muckdogs game that evening as they host the Williamsport Crosscutters (Phillies). Clinic participants will be welcomed to enter the ballpark early at 5:30 p.m. for a private autograph session with the team. Clinic participants will then be recognized on-field before joining the Muckdogs for the National Anthem.

Participants will be required to bring their own glove, bat, plastic or rubber cleats and should wear athletic clothing.

August 10, 2018 - 11:31am
posted by Andy Helwig in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

For the 31st time in 51 games, the Muckdogs had played in a game that was decided by two runs or less. The Doubledays put up three runs in the sixth inning that would end up being the difference in the 4-3 loss for Batavia.

Alberto Guerrero was solid for the Muckdogs on the mound, giving up just three hits in five innings, however, one of them was a home run to Jamori Blash in the second inning to give the Doubledays the 1-0 lead, and that is the way the game would stand until the sixth inning.

Jackson Stoeckinger for Auburn put a quality start in the books going six innings, giving up six hits and two runs in his start. Both runs that he gave up would come at the very start of Batavia’s rally.

The hole would be 4-0 by that point, as Tanner Andrews gave up three runs in his first inning of relief. The heart of the Doubleday order featured three All-Stars: Israel Pineda, Jacob Rhinesmith, and Pablo O’Connor. They tagged Batavia for three runs, including three extra-base hits to make it 4-0 going to the Muckdog half of the sixth inning.

The inning started off with a pair of singles from the top of the order in Corey Bird and Brayan Hernandez. A wild pitch advanced them to second and third, allowing Sean Reynolds to hit a sac fly to right field that brought in Bird, then two singles later Denis Karas drove in Hernandez to make it 4-2. One of those singles came from Jerar Encarnacion to extend his hit streak to 10 games. Michael Donadio hit a line drive that was caught by the second baseman Carson Shaddy, and Encarnacion was doubled off at second base to end the inning.

Evan Estes took care of the final six outs for Batavia, not allowing any runs, and keeping Batavia within striking distance of victory.

In the bottom of the ninth, the ‘Dogs got the start they were looking for. A leadoff double for Denis Karas got things going. Donadio kept the rally alive with a single, and a sac fly from Demetrius Sims brought Karas in to make it a one-run game. Igor Baez dropped a single in at the right field line to push Donadio to third with just one out. A ball hit to the outfield is all Batavia needed to tie the game. However, Luke Jarvis flew out to shallow center, not deep enough to bring in the run. Corey Bird then struck out to end the game and drop the game to the Doubledays 4-3. Batavia is now 1-6 on the season against Auburn.

The final game of the series is Friday; first pitch is a 7:05 p.m. at Dwyer Stadium.

August 6, 2018 - 11:35am
posted by Andy Helwig in muckdogs, baseball, sports.

The Muckdogs had the power of a three-run first inning to hold on for a 6-5 win over the West Virginia Black Bears. Batavia has won six of their last nine games, and have opened up the month of August with a 4-1 record. Jerar Encarnacion and Albert Guaimaro hit home runs in the game for Batavia.

The first runs of the game came in the first inning. Corey Bird, who is with the Muckdogs on Minor League Rehab, started off the ballgame with a walk. He got caught going the wrong way on a pickoff attempt but was bailed out by the pickoff throw being airmailed over Luke Mangieri’s head at first base. Bird went first to third on the play. Brayan Hernandez then ripped an RBI single up the middle to score Bird. After a Sean Reynolds strikeout, Jerar Encarnacion clubbed a home run into the Black Bears' bullpen for his third of the year to give the ‘Dogs a three-run lead going into the bottom of the first.          

The lead continued to grow in the second. Igor Baez led off the inning with a walk. The leadoff batter reached base three times in the first four innings. Baez was able to move around the diamond on a ground ball that snuck into right field to push Baez to third base. He then scored on a wild pitch.

Albert Guaimaro led off the fourth inning with a blast over the left-center wall. His line drive homer was his first of the season and continued a powerful Muckdogs offense that has put up 6.2 runs per game in the last five games, after scoring just 3.9 per game in July.

Guaimaro’s home run pushed the Batavia lead to five after four innings. The Black Bear half of the inning started their rally. One run came in to score from an error from Gerardo Nunez, who had two in the game. A second run came in from a Paul Brands' single and cut Batavia’s lead to 5-2 after the fourth.

Bryce Howe went out for his fifth inning and set a new career high with four and a third innings in the start. He also struck out a season-high five batters as well.

West Virginia scored again in the sixth on an error from a Baez throw that skipped into center field on an attempt to throw out a runner. Edison Lantigua scored on the play, making it 5-3 Batavia. The Black Bears notched one more in the bottom of the seventh from a Brett Kinneman double. Batavia’s once 5-0 lead diminished to just one run.

The Muckdogs pushed an insurance run across the plate in the top of the ninth inning. When Luke Jarvis led the inning off with a walk. Nunez bunted him over, setting up Bird who then smacked an RBI double in the right-center gap to score Jarvis.

The insurance run proved to be very important in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jameson McGrane looked to finish off the six-out save. He would give up a one-out double to Mike Gretler, and was scored by Kinneman to make the difference just one run again, and bring the winning run to the plate. McGrane shut it down from there on out though, and sealed the deal to get the Muckdogs to the 6-5 victory.

Batavia has two more games against the Black Bears, who own the league’s worst record. First pitch Monday and Tuesday are 7:05 p.m. from Monongalia County Ballpark. Humberto Mejia and Tyler Kolek are scheduled to throw for Batavia in Monday’s game.

August 4, 2018 - 9:58am
posted by Steve Ognibene in sports, baseball, muckdogs.

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The Muckdogs beat first-place Mahoning Valley at home Friday night 8-2 for the team's fourth consecutive win.

Alberto Guerrero pitched five solid innings but gave up two runs and the team was down 2-0 when he left the game.

Batavia rallied for six runs in the sixth and Tanner Andrews, who replaced Guerrero and tossed two scoreless innings, picked up the win.

Michael Donadio had three hits, two RBIs, and scored twice. Albert Guaimaro had two hits. Brayan Hernandez hit his second homer of the season in the seventh inning.

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August 2, 2018 - 10:37am
posted by Andy Helwig in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

The Muckdogs picked up their third win in five days on Wednesday afternoon in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park by topping the State College Spikes 5-4. The game in University City, Pa., didn’t pick up at its expected time of noon due to rains that pushed first pitch all the way back to 2:20 p.m.

Once the game finally got underway, Batavia did not waste any time getting on the board. Sean Reynolds went deep to left field and got the Muckdogs their first lead of the game, making it 1-0 going to the bottom of the first.

The lead doubled with an RBI double from Luke Jarvis, his first extra-base hit as a pro. His shot off the right-field wall scored Igor Baez and put Batavia up by a pair.

State College halved the lead in the bottom of the second as a result of a Brady Whalen home run. Whalen, a switch-hitter batting from the left side, hit the fifth home run Humberto Mejia has given up this season. All five of those home runs had been from left-handed batters.

A pair of errors from the Spikes in the top of the fifth opened another scoring window in the top of the fifth. Lars Nootbaar dropped a Brayan Hernandez fly ball in left field that he lost in the sun, and then Stanley Espinal airmailed a throw from the hole on the left side to put Demetius Sims on. Hernandez came in to score on a ball that squeaked away from the catcher Alexis Wilson. Immediately after, Sean Reynolds smacked an RBI double to score Sims and cash in on both of the Spikes’ errors.

Tyler Kolek came on in relief of Mejia, Kolek ended up as the winning pitcher in the ballgame in his three innings of relief. He retired his first six batters and gave up just one run in the seventh. When he came out of the game, Batavia still held a 4-2 lead.

Once again, Batavia answered with a run of their own, JD Osborne slugged a double to the left-center gap to score Jerar Encarnacion. Encarnacion was the third run to score that reached on an error.

CJ Carter and Elkin Alcala closed out the game for the final six outs. Nick Dunn drove in his second and third runs in the game with a two-run shot into the right-field bleachers. In a 5-4 game, Alcala got the final out after giving up the homer to give the Muckdogs the win.

The Muckdogs return home for a three-game series with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at Dwyer Stadium. The first pitch for all three games is 7:05 p.m.

July 31, 2018 - 2:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, sports, baseball, news, notify.

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Many young men have passed through Batavia over the years with dreams of making it to the major leagues -- Cito Gaston, Doc Ellis, Manny Sanguillen, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard -- all had solid careers.

But none of these players -- nor those who never made it -- were quite like Cooper Thomas.

Thomas doesn't slug homers or swat singles. He's never had his fastball clocked at 90 mph, let alone 98. He might be able to field a grounder or track down a fly ball but that isn't really what he wants to do.

His dream is to keep the grass green, the foul lines straight and infield dirt as smooth as the felt on a pool table.

Thomas arrived in Batavia on Thursday night after a 30-hour flight from Australia, chasing his big league dream: To be the guy taking care of a major league field.

That only happens in North America and it means making a name for yourself, so when Dave Chase, first-year general manager of the Batavia Muckdogs, told him there was a need for a head groundskeeper 9,401 miles from his home, Thomas didn't hesitate. He was ready to go.

That was the easy part. Getting Thomas through the visa process took some time, which is why he's only arriving in Batavia this week.

Now his goal, to turn the field at Dwyer Stadium into the best field in the New York Penn League. He'll have help from Joe Mogavero, who has been taking care of the field during the first half of the season.

"Aesthetically, you want it to be as good as you can for the fans but more for the players and the teams," Thomas said. "It’s more playability and keeping the field consistent so they know exactly how the field is going to play day in and day out."

One of the issues with the field that Chase mentioned during the off-season was the high lip of grass around the infield, the batter's area, and the pitcher's mound.

When Thomas started work Friday morning, the first task at hand -- fix the lips.

"I’m a massive stickler on that sort of thing," Thomas said. "We're still doing work on it. It’s really an everyday thing to get it perfect so we’ll be working on it every single day, especially on game days. Bringing a major league feel into a minor league ballpark is what I’d like to do here."

Thomas became the Muckdogs' top prospect for all things turf and dirt related after Chase called Murray Cook, who is the guy to know the world over if you care about the quality of your ball field.

Chase was in a bind. He was only a few weeks into his new job as GM for the Muckdogs, after the NYPL took over ownership of the team, and he realized he needed to hire a new head groundskeeper. By that time, any groundskeepers with any experience were already committed to other ballparks.

Cook said he knew this 20-year-old kid in Australia who was ready to move up.

“Murray’s word is gold in the groundskeeping business, so when he endorsed him it was a no-brainer," Chase said.

In 2014, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks played the first MLB regular season games ever in Australia and though Thomas didn't work on the field, he was obsessed with the work of Murray Cook and his crew.

"They made a cricket oval into a baseball field, which just blew my mind," Thomas said. "I followed it intensely and when I saw how a big league field is supposed to look on our soil that was like a trigger point. I knew I needed to work hard and get a reputation myself so I can be over here (in the states)."

Cook learned of Thomas through the Australian Baseball League, which is sponsored by Major League Baseball, and since some U.S. prospects play in the ABL, the fields there have to be kept to MLB standards. That's where Cook comes in. It's his job to inspect the fields and often his staff works with Australian groundskeepers.

Thomas started his groundskeeping career when the ABL came to Brisbane a year before that 2014 game when he was 15 years old.

"They played at a showground so we had to bump the field in, bump the field out because they had concerts or whatever there," Thomas said. "Me and this other guy just got really good at putting in a brand-new field and taking it away. So I got like OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) about it and eventually got a head job at the new stadium in Brisbane. I just loved it."

That's a level of training that isn't available in places where baseball is more established.

"It was pretty intense," Thomas said. "I got to know a baseball field like the back of my hand. I was pretty obsessed with how a baseball field is set up and how it’s made."

He wanted his fields to be major league quality.

"Where money and equipment lack, you’ve got to work hard so I just got a real obsession for trying to make it look like fields over here. I just tried to make my field look as good as it could in Australia and I compared it to all the U.S. fields. I thought if I could do that, that would be like a massive tick on my bucket list."

He came to the attention of Cook when he was working with Cook's team on the fields for the World Baseball Classic qualifiers.

Cook's staff recognized the kid's passion, hard work, and knowledge of the craft and asked if he would like to work in the United States at some point and Thomas said that was indeed his goal. They said they would be in touch.

Since the initial job offer during the off-season, Thomas has been following all the news about the Muckdogs and the team's home field. He has been making plans all that time -- about how to get the outfield grass striped like a major league field, adding a team logo behind home plate, improving the playability of the field.  

As he's said, he can be obsessive about these things.

"I know the field has not really been outstanding the past couple of years but I would really like to turn it around and make it one of the best fields in the league," Thomas said. "That is my main objective. As soon as I knew I was coming over here I was saying, like in my head, 'Batavia is going to be the number one field in the league.' That’s my main goal."

If he does that well, he might someday wind up running the show at Marlins Park, or perhaps Dodger Stadium. We mention L.A. because that's where Thomas has come the closest so far to actually walking on major league grass.

"I did do the stadium tour once in Dodger Stadium," Thomas said. "We went all through the stadium and when we got to the bit where we finally go on the field they were like, ‘sorry, we’re not going on the field. They’re shooting Moneyball,’ and I’m like, ‘that’s what I came here for! I just want to get on the field.’ "

July 31, 2018 - 12:28pm
posted by Andy Helwig in muckdogs, baseball, sports.

The Muckdogs were able to only get five runners on base on Monday night in a 3-0 loss to the State College Spikes. It was the second time this season that Batavia has been shut out. The Muckdogs only put multiple hits together in an inning one time, the other three hits were spread out in the first, third, and ninth innings.

Peyton Culbertson started the game for the Muckdogs. He pitched three innings into the game, just giving up four hits on one run. His fastball ran in the low to mid-90s, and showed a sharp curveball to keep hitters off-balance.

Chris Holba had an excellent start for the Spikes. The Cardinals' 11th round pick from East Carolina went six strong innings, only surrendering four hits, no runs, no walks, and struck out six batters.

Hector Villalobos was just as good, if not better out of the bullpen for the Spikes. He went three innings of relief; his only blemish was a Brayan Hernandez double in the ninth. Villalobos also struck out five.

The three runs for State College were scored across the third, fourth and fifth innings. The first of the three came in to score on a double play in the third. Nick Dunn crossed the plate in the bases-loaded situation at the cost of two outs.

Dunn then drove in a run of his own in the fourth, scoring Justin Toerner to double the Spikes’ lead. Toerner continued the chain in the fifth inning by bringing in Stanley Espinal, and I became a 3-0 game after the sacrifice fly.

The Muckdogs have now lost eight of their last 10 games, and have scored just nine runs in the last four games. Six of those runs came in the 6-5 victory over Vermont.           

The middle game of the series starts at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Bryce Howe is slated to pitch for Batavia to attempt at splitting the first two games of the series.

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