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“So Far This Season” on the Canadian Baseball Network

Written by Administrator
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 04:09
“Extra Bases” article by Bob Broughton on Canadian Baseball Network: UBC Thunderbirds soar

Excerpt: “The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds baseball team is now two-thirds of the way through their season. They have a record of 28-8, and are ranked No. 10 nationally in the NAIA. This is arguably the best season in the ten-year history of baseball as a varsity sport at UBC.”

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The Webmaster’s predictions for the 2009 season

Written by Administrator
Wednesday, 18 February 2009 01:26
OK, we’ve got an new conference, and they’ve finally settled on the name: NAIA West. Here’s how things should shake out:

North Division

  1. British Columbia – The Thunderbirds still have some trouble hitting good pitching, but it’s not likely that they will have the same injury problems they had toward the end of last season. Their pitching is looks solid with the addition of Danny Britton-Foster and Matt Bannister. And here’s a defensive stat for you; in five games, all on the road, the Thunderbirds have been charged with only two errors. They should win the inaugural NAIA West pennant.
  2. College of Idaho – The Coyotes have started their season 0-4. Don’t expect that to be a trend. RHP Jake Bottari had an excellent summer; he was a teammate of Mark Hardy with the Okotoks Dawgs. OF Luke Howarth has hit well in the early season, and RHP Ben Rosen, a JUCO transfer, looked good in his first start. Season preview
  3. Concordia-Portland – The Cavaliers started their season with their first-ever win over defending champion and #1-ranked Lewis-Clark State. Although sophomore RHP Steven Taft got the credit for the win, it was returning RHP Ben Rue who kept the Cavaliers in the game. RHP Ross Conway and 1B Jimmy Rudig have played well in the early season. The Cavaliers may be able to challenge the Coyotes for second place. Season preview
  4. Corban – The Warriors should be able to push the Coyotes and the Cavaliers for the fourth spot in the NAIA West tournament.They have another RHP who had a good summer, Jason Braun. They’ve added RHP/3B Trevor Winsor, and they still have 2B Craig Spicer. Media guide (large PDF)

South Division

  1. Oregon Tech – The Hustlin’ Owls haven’t played a post-season game since 2006, but new Coach Matt Miles put a competitve team on this field last year. A similar effort should be good enough to finish first in this division. The Owls have added freshman pitcher Neil Emerson, and retained starter Josh Strom, IF Ryson Mauricio, and C/1B Lee Eklund.
  2. Simpson – Their best position players are SS Joshua Corson, 2B Shane Battles, and 1B Kenny Button. Their best pitcher is Joshua Weise.
  3. Patten -They have position players OF Jermaine Collins, C/IF Chris Brigham, and OF Ryan Davis. Their best pitchers are LHP Phillip Gonzales, RHP Brian Peat, and RHP Chris Duke
  4. Bethany – Their best position players are 2B Frank Paletta and CF Darren Gobin, and their best pitcher is John Ballisty.

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Interview with Brooks McNiven

Written by Administrator
Saturday, 25 October 2008 16:38
The only UBC alumnus besides Jeff Francis currently playing pro ball is is Brooks McNiven, who spent part of the 2008 season with the Connecticut Defenders, a Giants AA farm club. His record was 2-2, 1.84 ERA. He also pitched 17 innings as an emergency callup for the Class AAA Fresno Grizzlies. The big event of his summer, however, was two starts for the Canadian Olympic Team in Beijing. He pitched six shutout innings against The Netherlands, and got a win. I had a chance to ask him some questions.

Do you know where you’ll be playing next year?

No idea.

How much time ls left on your contract with the Giants?

One more year.

Did the Giants have any problem with you going to Beijing?

No, they were pretty good about it.

When you were in Beijing, did you get to see any events besides baseball?

Yes. I saw some gymnastics and track, including the men’s 100 metre final. I saw Bolt break the record.

Did you learn anything about baseball at the Olympics?

The Asian teams like Japan and Korea concentrate on hitting singles and doubles. The other teams, like Cuba, play American-style ball, hitting for power.

Click here for more pictures from the Alumni Game.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 25 October 2008 17:20

UBC (and SFU) in the NCAA?

Written by Administrator
Tuesday, 21 October 2008 17:34
The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds should be competing in Division I of the NCAA. The size of the undergraduate student body is consistent with Division I, and with the current athletic budget, the Thunderbirds would be able to field competitive teams in every sport except football. UBC is also capable of providing the NCAA with a new TV market.

Unfortunately, this option isn’t on the table. Division I has a freeze on new memberships until 2011, and the decision by the NCAA to allow Canadian schools to join applies only to Division II.

So, if you would like to see UBC’s athletes competing against Gonzaga, Washington, Seattle U. et al, it says here that moving to Division II is the best way to get there.

What does this mean for UBC Athletics in the medium term? UBC Student Services has put out an NCAA Division II Consultation document, which contains a lot of useful information.

What I’m going to do here is address how Division II membership would affect individual sports.

The two possible conference memberships addressed in the consultation document are the Pacific West Conference and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). This choice doesn’t exist for football, because the Pac West doesn’t have a football competition.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 October 2008 09:39
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Henry W. Broughton 1919-2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator
Sunday, 28 September 2008 07:05
Henry W. BroughtonMy father, Henry W. Broughton, died in his sleep on September 28, 2008. I took him to the emergency room on September 21. An hour earlier, we were watching the final baseball game in Yankee Stadium on TV.

Henry took me to a game at Yankee Stadium in 1964. We were in New York for the World’s Fair. The game was remarkable because Mickey Mantle hit a home run, and it was one of the longest balls ever hit in Yankee Stadium.

An earlier baseball memory is from 1961, the year that Mantle and Roger Maris were chasing Babe Ruth’s record. We were watching a Yankees game on TV. This was long before ESPN, and televised sports were far less common. The game was tied going into the ninth inning. Henry observed that an extra-inning game would be a bonus to Mantle and Maris, because it would give them additional turns at bat. As it turned out, Yogi Berra hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth, and the scenario Henry envisioned didn’t happen.

A year later, Henry loaded the family into the station wagon, and we went to RFK Stadium (called DC Stadium at the time) in Washington to see a double-header between the Senators and the Yankees. We encounted a huge traffic jam. When we finally got to the stadium, it was standing room only. Henry hadn’t bothered to purchase advance tickets, which was understandable, given the size of the crowds that the Senators usually played in front of. This was the first-ever major league game for me and my younger brother Bill, and the scene was a zoo. Every time the Yankees took the field, several people would jump from the stands and run into the outfield attempting to get autographs from Mickey or Roger. They would be escorted off by police. Then there would be announcements over the P.A. that if the fans continued to go on the field, the game would be cancelled and the Senators would forfeit it. Since most of the crowd were attending their first Senators game, the possibility of the Senators forfeiting the game had no impact whatsoever.

Henry and I made some more trips to RFK Stadium over the years to see the Senators of Frank Howard, Mike Epstein, and Jimmy Piersall. (There were also some trips to see the Redskins of Sonny Jurgensen, Bobby Mitchell, Charley Taylor, and Jerry Smith; Henry had a friend who had season tickets.) I remember the last game, in 1969, which was a couple of years before the Senators became the Texas Rangers, the abomination which was owned by George W. Bush and offered Alex Rodriguez an obscene amount of money to leave the Mariners. The Senators still had Howard and Epstein, but of more importance, their manager was Ted Williams. The Yankees didn’t have much of a team that year; their star player was Joe Pepitone.

Henry and my mother, Elizabeth, moved from Virginia to Bremerton, WA in 1987, in order to be closer to their granddaughter. He was making occasional trips to Safeco Field until a couple of years ago, and he had some definite opinions on how to solve the Mariners’ difficulties with pitching and hitting.

Memorial brick for Ruth Auping Broughton in Progressive Field, ClevelandAs a teenager, he played for what he said was a pretty good team in Norge, VA.

A memorial service will be held at Silverdale Lutheran Church in Bremerton, WA on October 4.

P.S. Henry’s older sister, Ruth Auping, was a Cleveland Indians fan for most of her adult life. After she died, in January 2007, her daughters put a memorial brick for her in Progressive Field.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 28 September 2008 07:15

The Webmaster’s predictions for the 2008 season PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator
Thursday, 28 February 2008 02:49
This year’s Region I season (the last one under the current playoff structure) starts February 29, with UBC at Corban, and Oregon Tech at College of Idaho. Lewis-Clark State is hosting Gonzaga, and Concordia-Portland plays home-and-home with Western Oregon.

Here’s this year’s obligatory predicted order of finish for NAIA Region I:

Lewis-Clark State: The defending national champions sent eight players to pro ball, but they should still be good enough to repeat as Region I champions. The Warriors’ offensive star this year is Paul Martin, currently hitting .483. Their pitchers include Matt Fitts, who was drafted last year, but chose to spend another year in Lewiston, and Mike Guerrero. You can read L-C State’s story here.

U. of British Columbia: The Warriors will win the pennant on consistency, but the Thunderbirds will improve over last year, and they should be looking pretty good by the time that first home game comes around on March 15. They already look good defensively. Mike Styrna, Scott Webster, Ryan Pilgrim, and Alex White are hitting the ball well. The Birds have some good returning pitchers, Andrew LaFleur, Greg Chong, Kurtis Schumacher, and some very good new ones, Ashton Florko, Josh Brink, and Taylor King. UBC Athletics preview

College of Idaho: Like last year, the Thunderbirds and the Coyotes should be a good matchup, but the Birds win out on pitching. Their offensive returnees include Dane McGrady and Luke Howarth. Their pitching staff includes two British Columbians, Andrew Brock (Burnaby), and Jason Barry (Castlegar), but their best guy is Joey Zubizarreta. Click here for their season preview.

Concordia-Portland: The Cavaliers had huge graduation losses, but once again, Coach Rob Vance has managed to recruit some good pitchers. This year, it’s Ross Conway and Brett Hawley. They’ve also added a guy who can hit, Roberto Reyes of Monterrey, Mexico.

Corban: The Warriors have one of the youngest coaches in college baseball, alum Nate Mayben, and he did OK last year. They have RHP Jordan Emery back, and OF Jamie McGraw.

Oregon Tech: The Hustlin’ Owls are 1-7 so far this season. I don’t see this trend changing.

Bonus predictions: Whoever wins Region I has to get past the champion of the Golden State Athletic Conference (Region II) to get to the NAIA championship tournament in Lewiston, ID. The GSAC is a very competitive league. My choice is defending champion Azusa Pacific, but The Master’s might make a run at it.

After the super-regional, there’s several viable contenders for the national championship, including Lee, Azusa Pacific, Lewis-Clark State, and Lubbock Christian. I picked Oklahoma City in a column for The College Baseball Blog in December. With the Stars currently at 15-1, I’m sticking with that prediction. Look at it this way; Oklahoma City and Lubbock Christian are both in the same region, so only one of them can make it to the national championship tournament. The one that does should have the inside track.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 28 February 2008 02:52

Indios del Bóer 6, Fieras del San Fernando 0 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator
Monday, 21 January 2008 08:00
Rafael Garcia
Rafael Garcia – Photo from La Prensa
Bóer is the champion of the Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League for another year. San Fernando sent out their ace, Nicaraguan Diego Sandino, who was 10-0, 2.06 ERA during the regular season. He wasn’t bad; Las Fieras trailed by only 4-0 when he left the game in the eighth inning. However, his team failed to solve Dominican Republican Rafael García, who allowed two hits in 7 2/3 innings.
Los Indios’ winning run came in the fourth inning, when Clyde Williams (USA) reached base on a Texas League single, and was batted in by Manuel Mejía (Dominican Republic). They added three runs in the sixth on a double by catcher Marlon Abea. They added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth, one of them on an RBI by Jimmy González.

SF´s Darío Delgado (DR) was hit by pitches from Garcia twice. He drew a walk in the bottom of the ninth, and was moved to third on a double by Anibal Vega (Nicaragua), but he was still on third when the game ended.

Abea, who hit .545 during the series, was named Most Valuable Player.

Story from La Prensa (en Español)

Brian Rodaway
Brian Rodaway
I was able to talk to several players before and after the game. Jimmy Hurst played for the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Northern League in 2006. I asked him how the Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League compared to independent leagues in terms of caliber of played. He said that it´s similar, but the Northern League is much better organized. He believes that umpiring in Nicaragua is “political”. He came here because he played with Delgado for Atlantic City of the Atlantic League. He hopes to play in Mexico next winter.
Brian Rodaway, out of U. of Nebraska, started game 3 for Bóer. He had a very good season here, 6-1, 2.14 ERA. He came to Nicaragua because he was a teammate of Clyde Williams with an independent league team, and he “needed a job”.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 February 2008 22:30

Fieras del San Fernando 4, Indios del Bóer 3 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator
Saturday, 19 January 2008 08:14
San Fernando tied the best-of-seven national championship series at two games apiece with a dramatic bottom-of-the-ninth finish.

Roberto Clemente Stadium
Roberto Clemente Stadium
Today´s game was in Masaya, a city of 114,000 people best known for its market. Los Fieras´ home field is Roberto Clemente Stadium, and it´s very similar to Nat Bailey Stadium. It has a capacity of about 6,000, the foul lines are 310 feet, and a large foul territory on both the first- and third-base sides. The atmosphere was far more civilized than at Dennis Martinez National Stadium, and today´s crowd got to see an excellent contest.
The starters were Wilber Bucardo (Nicaragua) for Bóer, and Armando Hernández (from Masaya) for SF. Hernández had an excellent outing; he went 6 1/3 innings.

Bóer took the early lead with a sacrifice fly by Jorge Núñez (Dominican Republic) in the second inning. SF got on the board with a two-run home run by Marcos Sánchez (DR) in the fifth, and increased their lead with an RBI by Norman Cardoze (also from Masaya) in the sixth.

Bóer tied the game 3-3 in the top of the seventh, and that´s where it was going into the bottom of the ninth. Cardoze drew a walk, and Sánchez put down a good bunt. However, Bóer´s third baseman tried to go to second instead of first, and his throw was just a little bit late. The next batter, Eddy Talavera (Nicaragua) bunted, and the result was runners on second and third with one out. SF sent in a pinch hitter, Anibal Vega (Nicaragua), and he was intentionally walked to load the bases. The next batter, Víctor Gutiérrez (DR) hit a sacrifice fly to win the game. There was a good throw to the plate, however. I was sitting behind home plate, and I thought it got there in time. Predictably, so did Bóer´s players and coaches. Riot police were present.

(Replays on Nicaraguan TV showed that the runner was safe, and the umpire’s call was correct.)

Right-field view of Roberto Clemente StadiumStory from La Prensa (en Espanol)

I treated myself to a Toña beer. It cost 18 cordobas, or one dollar.

Now for today´s constructive advice to the Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League: I saw a kid selling cigarettes who couldn´t have been more than seven years old. (BAT, the company that sells Players and Du Maurier in Canada, has a major presence in Nicaragua, and their policy is, these kids are much more reliable than vending machines.) All of the major league teams banned smoking in their ballparks years ago. Do the same.

Fieras del San Fernando site

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Last Updated on Friday, 25 January 2008 07:54

Indios del Bóer 6, Fieras del San Fernando 5 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator
Thursday, 17 January 2008 08:00
I can´t remember the last time I went to a sports event where the crowd was this deafening. If I restrict this to outdoor events, the answer is “never”.
The event happened at Dennis Martinez National Stadium in Managua, Nicaragua. This stadium holds 20,000 people, and about 18,000 were present for this game, which was the third game of the best-of-seven final of the Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League. Bóer won the first game, and San Fernando won the second.

Dennis Martinez National Stadium
Dennis Martinez National Stadium
Both teams had pep bands. San Fernando´s band played something recognizable as music, and, inexplicably, they played while their guys were at bat. As for Bóer´s band, all I can tell you is they started and stopped at the same time. Both teams had cheerleaders, and the ones for Bóer were equipped with rock-concert size amps. And yes, the “Los Indios” fans know about the tomahawk chop.
In addition, large numbers of fans were blowing police whistles, and if you forgot to bring one, there were vendors selling them. There were also vendors selling all sorts of food, including a sort of taco salad (it’s called “boha”) that looked healthy. There is Toña beer, which I´ve already developed a taste for. You have to pay to use the washrooms, but I don´t know yet whether this results in cleanliness.

There was a ball game going on, too, and it would be a mistake to say that this is like European soccer matches, where much of the crowd is indifferent to what´s happening on the field. They saw a good game, although there were some fielding miscues in the early going. It appeared that the crowd noise was making it difficult for the players to communicate with each other, but the not-very-good lighting could also have been a factor.

Both starters were chased early. The SF starter was Willy Lebrón of the Dominican Republic, and he was gone before the second inning was over, after Bóer went up 2-0. The Bóer starter was Brian Rodaway, who played for the U. of Nebraska, then spent five years in the minors. Rodaway came in with very good numbers: 6-1, 2.14 ERA. He held Los Fieras hitless for the first two inning, but in the third inning, Los Fieros got five runs, with an RBI by Eddy Talavera (Granada), another by Ofilio Castro (Nicaragua), a two-RBI double by Danilo Sotelo (also from Nicaragua), and another by Darío Delgado (Dominican Republic).

Those were all the runs SF got. Bóer got a run back in the fourth, and tied it with two runs in the sixth. The winning run came in the eighth. Clyde Williams, who was in the Expos/Nationals organization for seven years, hit what should have been a double-play ball with one out. The throw to first was late, however, and this allowed a baserunner to score from third. SF got the tying run on first with one out, but a line drive by Jimmy Hurst to first resulted in a game-ending double play. (Hurst had a cup of coffee with the Tigers in 1997, also played in Japan and for the Winnipeg Goldeyes.)

Now, an editorial comment for anyone in Nicaragua who might read this: I´m OK with the pep bands and the cheerleaders, but lose the police whistles. They add nothing whatsoever to the enjoyment of the game, and they are irritating.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 January 2008 14:17

Wait until next year (vol. III) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator
Saturday, 26 May 2007 03:19
Those of us who are passengers on the Thunderbird bandwagon had gotten used to the idea of extended post-season play, so it came as a shock when the result of the last two games of this season was two losses, nine hits, and only three runs scored. These two losses came against Jason Roach of Albertson and Bryan Goff of Concordia-Portland, who the Thunderbirds had trouble hitting all season.

The results would have been somewhat different had these two games been played in Vancouver instead of Caldwell, ID, keeping in mind that Roach was responsible for UBC’s only loss at Nat Bailey Stadium this year. Now, why were these games played in Caldwell instead of Vancouver, when UBC finished two games ahead of Albertson during the regular season? That’s a topic for some serious off-season discussion, and my well-considered opinion is that the NAIA’s entire setup for qualification for the national tournament needs a drastic overhaul. For right now, though, the end-of-season Region I politics wouldn’t have mattered if the Thunderbirds hadn’t lost those two games at Oregon Tech.

Let’s give that series in Klamath Falls some more scrutiny. The Hustlin’ Owls didn’t have much of a ball team this year. What they had, though, were several seniors who were playing the last college baseball games of their lives, and a coach who was a few days away from getting fired.

Next year, there will be other opposing players who make their best efforts against the Thunderbirds, and other opposing coaches with their jobs on the line. In response, five of the Thunderbirds’ top six hitters, Nic Lendvoy, Fletcher Vynne, Sammie Starr, Craig Leebosh, and Jon Syrnyk, will probably be back next year. Of this group, Lendvoy and Starr will be sophomores. and Leebosh and Syrnyk will be juniors.

As for pitching, Doug Grant has finished an excellent career, and Brendan Rolfe, who was great this year, will be gone. Everyone else (Andrew LaFleur, Kurtis Schumacher, Scott Webster, and Greg Chong, to name four) will keep getting better, and Mark Hardy, who will be a sophomore, shows particular promise; all he has to do is pitch as well against everyone as he did against Lewis-Clark State. (Webster, who had two home runs, should also continue to improve at the plate.) The people who came out to see the Birds on a regular basis this year will tell you that this team improved with every passing week, and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t carry over into next season.

And that’s not all: UBC had another great recruiting year, to go along with the one they had last year. Watch this space for more on this in the preview of the MLB draft which happens on June 7.

Now for a look at changes to the record book. Jon Syrnyk didn’t just set a school record with eight triples; he tied a record for all of college baseball with three triples in a game. Matt Chester now holds the record for fielding percentage: 1.000. The 12 runs scored in an inning against Albertson is a record. Brett Murray had six saves, which ties him with Cory Stuart and Joey Benda. (I’m sure I’ve missed one or two here; just drop me a note and let me know.)

And now for the defining moment of the 2007 season. It came in the ninth inning of the first home game of the season, against Lewis-Clark State on March 20. None of the Birds’ starters were available because this game was on a Tuesday, and they had pitched the previous weekend against Concordia. So, Mark Hardy started, and the game was pitched by a committee of Hardy, Greg Chong, Kurtis Schumacher, Andrew LaFleur, and Brett Murray. They held the Warriors to one earned run, and the Birds went into the eighth inning with a 2-1 lead. The Warriors tied it in the top of the eighth, but the Birds answered with a huge three-RBI double by Jon Syrnyk. The atmosphere in Nat Bailey Stadium turned electric: “We can win this thing”. In the top of the ninth, the Warriors get a couple of baserunners on an error and a walk. Are the wheels coming off? No, Beau Mills hit into a double play, and finishes 0-5. One out left. Jessie Mier hits an RBI single. Paul Martin hit a ground ball to Sammie Starr at second base. Starr looked a little shaky when he fielded it, but he managed to get the ball to Ted Wilkie covering second for the force. Game over. The Thunderbirds would eventually split the season series with L-C State with two games apiece. The only previous UBC team to do this well against the Warriors was the 2002 team with Jeff Francis and Brooks McNiven, who won the season series two games to one.

Some words about opponents: UC Riverside won the Big West Conference championship. Pacific Lutheran won the Northwest Conference championship. This was their first conference championship in baseball since 1954. They acquitted themselves well at the regional tournament; they won the first three games, including one over Chapman, but Chapman won two must-win games against the Lutes to win the tournament. George Fox got an at-large bid, but they went two-and-out.

Poll result: Defensively, the Thunderbirds are:

Better than last year: 49 votes
Not as good as last year: 46 votes
About the same as last year: 14 votes
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Last Updated on Thursday, 31 May 2007 17:44

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