Vote for David Francis for Performance of the Year

  • November 04, 2008

OTTAWA – With a historic election happening in the United States, there is another campaign south of the border that Canadians can vote in involving a Canadian. David Francis (Mississauga, ON) is nominated for the Single-Game Performance of the Year for the This Year in Minor League Baseball Awards, as voted on by the fans. On July 22nd, the former member of the Junior National Team took the mound for what was only his fourth professional appearance of his career for the Danville Braves of the Rookie Appalachian League and threw six no-hit innings with two walks and an incredible 16 strikeouts. The 20-year-old right-hander is up against four other candidates for the award who put up some solid single-game performances of their own.  Francis is up against Bruce Billings of the Class-A Asheville Tourists, Tommy Hanson of the Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Tommy Everidge of the Double-A Midland RockHounds and Micah Hoffpauir of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. But wait, there is more.  You can also vote for Hitter of the Year, Starter of the Year, Reliever of the Year and Team of the Year.  You can review all the candidates’ credentials and vote for your favourites. To vote for David, and to vote in the other categories, go to MLB.com or MiLB.com and cast your vote.

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Networking for Women’s Baseball

  • November 03, 2008

OTTAWA – If you’ve always wanted to connect with people on the subject of women’s baseball, here is your chance to join a social networking group that has recently been created called “Ladies in Baseball.” This social networking group was created on Facebook by Deb Bettencourt and Christine Burgess for all players, coaches, umpires, fans, parents and everyone else involved in girls and women’s baseball around the world. “I think this group will be a great tool to help connect everyone and keep people informed as to what is happening and perhaps to allow us to cohesively work together on all levels of the sport,” says Christine Burgess in a statement via e-mail. The group was created after the success that Bettencourt and Burgess found in recruiting players for a women’s reunion game at the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, New York last September. For those interested in joining this growing community, go to http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=42624909049 and sign up.

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Sask Baseball Legend Passes Away

  • October 27, 2008

OTTAWA – It is with great sorrow that Baseball Canada announces the passing of Dave Shury, Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and founder of the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame.  He was 78. Shury, a lawyer by trade, was a long time volunteer and was an instrumental part in the forming of both the Saskatchewan Baseball Association and Baseball Canada. Shury died on Wednesday, October 22nd, after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.  He spent his final day in the place he loved most, the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame which he founded with his wife Jane. “He’s accomplished more in his life, in a wheelchair, than a lot of men I know,” says Jane Shury in an interview with the Saskatoon Star Phoenix. Shury leaves behind his wife Jane, along with children Brent Shury and Debi Anderson and seven grand children. Shury’s life achievements will be celebrated November 6th at 1 pm at the Alex Dillabough Center in Battleford, Saskatchewan.  Donations, in lieu of flowers, are to go to the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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Director General’s Nephew in NHL

  • October 24, 2008

On October 23rd, Darroll Powe was recalled by the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers from their minor league affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League. Now, one might wonder what a minor league call-up in hockey making his NHL debut has to do with baseball.  Well, as it turns out, Powe is the nephew of Baseball Canada Director General Jim Baba. Powe, along with Jared Ross were re-called by the Flyers after Flyers’ center Daniel Briere is day-to-day with a lower body injury and winger Simon Gagné is day-to-day with the flu. “We’re very excited for Darroll,” says Jim Baba.  “It’s exciting to see a member of your family realize his dream and make it to the NHL. We wish him all the best and hopefully he will be up there for a while.” As special as Powe’s debut in the NHL is already, there is a little added excitement as he is expected to make his debut against the team he grew up idolizing, the New Jersey Devils. “They were Darroll’s favourite team when he was a kid,” confirms Baba. Powe’s new favourite team, the Philadelphia Flyers, take on his old favourite team, the New Jersey Devils, tonight, Friday, October 24th in New Jersey where the Flyers will be looking to get their first win of the season.  Game time is 7 pm ET.

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Matt Stairs 15th Canadian in World Series

  • October 21, 2008

OTTAWA – Fredericton, New Brunswick native Matt Stairs is the 15th Canadian in Major League history to reach the World Series after the Philadelphia Phillies qualified for the Fall Classic for the first time since 1993. The Phillies defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series four games one thanks in large part to Stairs who came through with a clutch two-run pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning to give the Phillies a 7-5 win in game 4. The 16-year veteran is making his first World Series appearance in his third post season outing.  Stairs made his first two playoff appearances with the Boston Red Sox in 1995 and with the Oakland Athletics in 2000. Stairs was traded to the Phillies on August 30th from the Toronto Blue Jays before the playoff eligibility expired, allowing the utility player to be on the post season roster. Stairs joins some exclusive company of Canadians in the World Series, including Jeff Francis (Vancouver, BC) and Eric Gagné (Mascouche, QC) who participated in the World Series last season with the Colorado Rockies and the Boston Red Sox respectively, and Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, BC) who hit .357 with two homers and three RBI his only World Series appearance in 2004 with the St. Louis Cardinals. The World Series is set to begin on Wednesday, October 22 when the Philadelphia Phillies take on the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Baseball Academy is on the Rise

  • October 16, 2008

OTTAWA – The St. Francis Xavier Baseball Academy in Edmonton, Alberta is now in its fourth year.  The Academy, which is based at the St. Francis Xavier High School, started with a few student/athletes.  Now, that population has grown to 65 and continues to get higher. The major reason behind the quick success of the academy according to Head Baseball Coordinator Mark Randall is simply what the program offers students. “We have added more student/athletes on a consistent basis from the start,” says Randall, “but the program has been built around the fact that we have excellent instructors that prepare the players for the next level and the fact that we can offer this in a school setting that also earns them credits towards their High School Diploma.” The instructors that Randall mentions include Gord Gerlach, a former Canadian Senior and Junior National Team coach and current coach with the Edmonton Cracker-Cats of the independent Golden League.  Sheen Bromley, who has spent time coaching in Australia and is a coach with the Edmonton Big River Prospects of the Western Major Baseball League and Randall himself, who is a former Minor League pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies and a former coach with the Canadian Senior and Junior National Team as well as a scout with the Houston Astros. They also have strength and conditioning coordinator, Nate Hay, who is currently the Assistant Therapist with the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos. “We have a great staff that gets the most out of the students,” says Randall. The philosophy of the academy is the long term development of the student/athlete by providing individuals the opportunity to enhance baseball skills as well as creating a positive environment for learning. “There are two main focuses that we have which is to offer a baseball program at a grass roots level for everyone and to get students off to college or university after their high school career is complete,” explains Randall. Although they approach the game at a grass roots level, the academy competes at a very high level with 40 games a year in a fall instructional schedule with trips to Washington State, Calgary, Okotoks and to other academies such as Vauxhall.  They also make an annual Spring Training trip to Florida to compete against high school teams from the state as well as schools from Pennsylvania. They also regularly compete with Canadian College Teams and teams from Western Canada and the North-western United States. As interest in the academy grows, Randall says he continues to try and find ways to keep the program fresh in order to keep adding value to the program. “With more interest comes more responsibility which includes trying to billet and house players from outside the province.  With more students in the program, more opportunities will need to be researched as far as playing games and getting evaluators who make decisions in front of these players, whether that’s scouts or recruiters.” “Ultimately, the reputation and the quality of the academy has gotten out and people are calling me now about players instead of the first few years where I had to do a lot of groundwork on finding players a school that would fit for them.” For inquiries about the St. Francis Xavier Baseball Academy, contact Mark Randall at 780-489-2571, ext. 338 or via e-mail at randallm@ecsd.net.

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Juniors End Fall Camp with Loss

  • October 11, 2008

ORLANDO – It was a tough trip in terms of wins for the Junior National Team at the Fall Instructional League camp as the Canadians would drop their final game in Florida to the Atlanta Braves by a score of 11-3. It would be the Braves who would get on the board first as a leadoff walk followed by a double in the second inning gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead.  They would add another run in the inning off of Canadian starter Jonathan Paquet (Ancienne Lorette, QC) to make it 2-0. Paquet went three solid innings on the mound, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk with a pair of strikeouts. Canada got on the board in the fourth inning when Tyler McWhirter (Regina, SK) came in to score on an RBI single by Johnathan Solazzo (Mississauga, ON) to cut the lead to 2-1. The Braves would respond in the bottom half of the fourth by scoring a pair of runs of Jordan Wong (Calgary, AB) and take a 4-1 lead.  Atlanta added another run in the fifth inning to make it 5-1. All together, Wong allowed three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out three batters in two innings of work. In one swing of the bat, the Braves put the game out of reach in the sixth inning as Cody Johnson hit a grand slam to put Atlanta ahead 9-1. Canada would tack on a couple of runs in the eighth inning as Joel Pierce (Windsor, ON) and Brooklyn Foster (Langley, BC) would come in to score on a hit and a sacrifice fly to make it 9-3 for Atlanta. But the Braves would get those two runs back in the bottom of the eighth on three hits and complete the game’s scoring. Although the Junior National Team ended the Fall Instructional League camp without a win, the experience gained from the camp far outweighs any stats in the win-loss column.  The next step on the road to the 2010 World Junior Championship is the Spring Training camp, which will be held in April 2009 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando.

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Astros Too Much For Juniors

  • October 10, 2008

ORLANDO – The Junior National Team were scored on early and often as the Houston Astros were able to knock off the Juniors by a score of 14-1 at the Fall Instructional League camp. The Canadians only run came in the bottom of the first in response to a five-run first by the Astros.  Jeff Hunt (Cambridge, ON) hit a bases loaded sacrifice fly to drive in Wes Darvill (Langley, BC) to make it 5-1. Evan Grills (Whitby, ON) started on the mound for the Juniors and gave up five runs, four earned, on three hits and two walks with a pair of strikeouts in two innings pitched. The Astros added to their lead in the third scoring three times with two outs in the inning to give them an 8-1 advantage. The runs kept on coming for Houston as they would score a run in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to take an 11-1 lead. Paul Barton (Qualicum Beach, BC) gave up four runs, three earned on six hits in three innings of work.  He would allow one walk while striking out six. Jason Gibson (Victoria, BC) followed Barton, throwing the sixth and seventh innings.  He allowed two runs, one earned, on two hits and three walks while fanning one Astros’ hitter. Houston completed their offensive outburst by adding three more runs in the eighth inning against Jeff Gibbs (Toronto, ON), who went two innings, giving up the three runs on four hits and a walk with two punch outs. Andrew Ruck (Whitby, ON) led the way offensively for the Canadians going 2-for-3.  Jeff Hunt drove in the only Canadian run. The Junior National Team will play its final game of the Fall Instructional League camp on Saturday, October 11 when the Juniors take on the Atlanta Braves.  Game time is at 10 am.

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Juniors Crushed by Nationals

  • October 09, 2008

ORLANDO – The Junior National Team had no answers for the Washington Nationals on this day of Fall Instructional League action as the Canadians would be held to one hit in a 16-0 beating by the Major League Instructional club. Darren Kolk (Mill Bay, BC) produced the only hit for the Canadians, which was an infield single. The Nationals got on the board immediately by scoring one run in the first inning, followed by four runs in the fourth and another pair of runs in the third inning, all against Paul Schaak (Winkler, MB). All together, Schaak allowed seven runs, six earned, on eight hits and two walks with a pair of strikeouts over three innings of work. Mike Ellis (Surrey, BC) came in relief of Schaak, but the Nationals were not done with their offensive outburst.  Ellis would give up six runs, five earned, over two and one-third innings as Washington would score four runs in the fourth inning and another pair in the sixth for a 13-0 lead before Steve McKinnon (Duncan, BC) was brought in to finish the inning. The Nationals would tack on three more runs, one in each of the final three innings to complete the scoring. McKinnon allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits and a walk in two and two-third innings on the mound.  He also registered four punch outs. Joel Pierce (Windsor, ON) finished out the day for the Canadians on the hill, giving up one run on two hits while fanning one Nationals’ hitter. It was a rough day all around for the Juniors as they would give up 16 runs on 23 hits while committing five errors in this game. The Junior National Team will hit the diamond again at the Fall Instructional League camp on Friday, October 10 at 1 pm when the Canadians take on the Houston Astros.

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Braves Comeback on Juniors

  • October 08, 2008

ORLANDO – The Junior National Team could not hold on to a late inning lead as the Atlanta Braves took the lead in the seventh inning and never looked back, defeating the Juniors by a score of 9-5 in Fall Instructional League action. The game was scoreless until the fourth inning when the Canadians opened the scoring when Darren Kolk (Mill Bay, BC) hit a bases loaded double driving in Larry Balkwill (Chatham, ON), Tyler McWhirter (Regina, SK) and Jeff Hunt (Cambridge, ON) to give Canada a 3-0 lead. On the mound, Jake Eliopoulos (Newmarket, ON) was dominant for the Canadians to start the game.  He threw two innings, allowing only a walk while striking out two. Jerome Werniuk (Toronto, ON) came in relief of Eliopoulos and was solid in his first two innings of work.  The Braves would catch up to him in the fifth inning, scoring two runs against him, first on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and again on a sacrifice fly, this time with Brian Bardis (St, Constant, QC) on the mound. Werniuk ended his day after two and a third innings, giving up two runs on one hit and five walks with one strikeout.  Bardis went two-thirds innings, allowing only a walk while striking out one. The Canadians added to their lead in the sixth inning when Jeff Hunt hit a two-run double, scoring Larry Balkwill and Mike Washburn (Fredericton, NB) to give Canada a 5-2 lead. That lead would be short lived as Atlanta tied it up in the bottom of the sixth, scoring three runs on four walks and two hits against Johnathan Solazzo (Mississauga, ON) to make it 5-5. A leadoff triple in the seventh inning, followed by a pair of singles by the Braves against Evan Zerff (Regina, SK) gave Atlanta their first lead of the game, putting themselves ahead by a score of 6-5. The Braves added three runs to their lead in the eighth inning on three walks and two hits and an error to take a 9-5 lead. Those would be the final runs of the game.  Joel Pierce (Windsor, ON) finished things off for the Canadians by pitching a perfect ninth inning to shut things down. Next up for the Junior National Team at the Fall Instructional League camp, the Juniors will take on the Washington Nationals at 1 pm on Thursday, October 9. Bob Elliott article

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