By Bob Elliott
OKOTOKS, Alta. -- Jarod Bartnik send a two-line message.
An apology to Okotoks Dawgs founding father John Ircandia for the Okotoks Dawgs not winning the Western Major Baseball League in 2012.
Reliever Matt Thornton also send a note saying he was sorry he could not attend the sixth annual Dawgs diner, but good natured manner wrote he was playing for a coach (University of British Columbia’s Terry McCaig) who was every bit as tough as Ircandia.
Rylan Chin, another award winner, apologized as well.
“John us the only guy who can rock a Tommy Bahama shirt every day of the year and still get respect,” said Chin.
Such is the desire to win when you play for Ircandia, the George Steinbrenner of the prairies, where not winning it all -- like the New York Yankees or the St. Louis Cardinals -- is considered a bad year ... and worth an apology.
The Medicine Hat Mavericks beat the Dawgs in the playoffs and then the Mavericks lost to the Regina Red Sox in the final.
Regina was a repeat winner after the Swift Current Indians won in 2010. Okotoks had won three straight from 2007-09.
All in all, it was a banner year for the Dawgs organization, aside from the WMBL outcome.
_ Tourmaline Field and the new Riverside bantam diamond were completed, together with Seamen Stadium and Duvernay Fieldhouse, making Okotoks the home of the best facilities in Canada.
_ The fields played host to the bantam and midget Alberta championships.
_ The bantam Dawgs, coached by Dave Robb and Brady Oxford won their third consecutive Alberta title.
_ The midget Dawgs, coached by Brett Thomas and Tanner Osberg won their second straight Alberta and Canadian national title.
_ The college Dawgs welcomed their 300,000th fan to Seaman Stadium to rank fifth in attendance of all summer college ball leagues.
_ Grads Tyler Hollick and Chris Shaw were drafted. Hollick signed with the San Francisco Giants. Shaw was chosen by the Milwaukee Brewers but opted to go to school.
_ All graduating players -- Jake Shaw (to Northern Kentucky), Cole Slamko (Spalding), Eric Swanson (Spalding), Nick Bravi (Okanagan College) and Peter Werth (Thompson Rivers), plus Doug Clapperton, Layne Currie, Aaron Ethier, Josh Hills, C.J. Lewington, Justin Tofteland, Roberto Valdez, Jake Geate, Luke Hosington and Brian Granton --- either have or are close to obtaining a scholarship.
_ And Jimmy Henderson became the first Dawg grad to make the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers, but more on that later. Much more.
On with the awards
Austin Voros, MVP
Voros batted .400 for most of the season before finishing with a .339 average. He hit five doubles, two homers and knocked in 24 runs. The Surrey, BC native led with a .444 on-base percentage.
Matt Thornton, pitcher of the year.
The 6-foot-5 right-hander made 17 appearances and had nine saves with a month to go in the season, one shy of the WMBL record. Thornton never tied the record as he suffered an injury.
The UBC Thunderbirds reliever from Campbell River, BC walked two and struck out 24 in 19 2/3 innings.
Jerod Bartnik, Top Rookie.
Another UBC product, he hit .270 with seven doubles, four homers and 22 RBIs.
Rylan Chin, True Grit
Manager Brandon Newell had Chin play five different positions last summer “and I think he hated four of them, but he played.”
Chin, a three-year veteran, who battled injuries thanked his host family Norma and Todd, and spoke about his trips to hospitals.
“I’ve been to the Regina hospital, the Yorkton hospital, what a beautiful hospital and health care system they have in Saskatchewan,” he said, tongue sliding past his cheek onto his chinny-chin Chin.
Hollick news: Proud papa Carl Hollick brought his son Tyler Hollick’s golden bat which he was as the NJCAA Division II player of the year last spring. Hollick hit .465 at Chandler-Gilbert College with seven doubles, eight triples, a homer and 29 RBIs in 48 games. He stole 61 bases in 67 attempts, finishing with a .636 slugging mark and a .605 on-base percentage.
“The coach was up here looking for players and said ‘not bad for a kid who started off 0-for-38,” said Ircandia.
This season, Hollick, a 14th-round draft choice of the Giants, hit .301 with the rookie-class Arizona League Giants. He had four doubles, two triples and 14 RBIs, while stealing 21 bases in 23 tries.
Papa Hollick has other interests He’s part of a group which are putting up for sale their mare of the year at the Lexington horse sales Feb. 11. The sprinter, Atlantic Hurricane is owned by bothers Brent and Russ McLlennan and trainer Stuart Simon.
In all, they have four horses including two-year-old Stormin’ Clooney.
“We named him after George Clooney, he’s so handsome,” said Hollick. “I’m not sure if we have a Derby horse or not.”
2012 Austin Voros
2011 Kasey Coffman
2010 Jeff Jarkansee
2009 Anthony Cros
2008 Brett Thomas
2007 Mannu Kumar
2012 Matt Thornton
2011 Jared Rogers
2010 Desmond Sullivan
2009 Jeff Duda
2008 Mark Hardy
2007 Jeff Duda
2012 Jerod Bartnik
2011 Tyler Hollick
2010 Andrew Kinder
2009 Mac Sullivan
2008 Cam Christian
2007 Jake Bottari
2012 Rylan Chin
2011 Austin Voros
2010 Danny Britton-Foster
2009 Jeremy Shelby
2008 Manny Kumar
2007 Brett Thomas