Led by Canisius, 27 CDNs on NCAA road to Omaha

* Canisius Golden Griffs coach Mike McRae (Niagara Falls, Ont.), shown above as he's about to flash a sign to his hitter, has his 13 Canucks off on the road to the Omaha and the College World Series. A total of 27 Canucks made the 64-team field, up from 10 a year ago. .... 2013 Top Canadians eligible for draft 2013 Canadians in the Minors  2013 Canadians in College  Letters of Intent

By Bob Elliott

Larry Walker wanted to grow up to be a be a goalie.

Instead, he became a right fielder .... Canada’s best ever position player.

Justin Morneau wanted to tend goal.

Instead, he became a first baseman ... like Walker he won an MVP award.

Mike McRae guarded the Colby Mules net in Waterville, Maine in the winter and in the spring was a right-handed pitcher for Colby College.

McRae played ball ... grew up to be the only current NCAA Division I college head coach and thanks to a run in the bottom of the ninth the Canisius Golden Griffins won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament at ARM & HAMMER Park in Trenton, N.J.

And McRae (Niagara Falls, Ont.) in his 11th year as a head coach is on the road to Omaha, for the first time, along with 63 other college programs.

It all began at Colby where he was a co-captain, as a right-hander pitcher for the ball team and a netminder for one season.

McRae was his the first head coach at Brock University, then joined Niagara University as a hitting instructor in 1996-97, was an assistant coach for the Canadian National Youth Team, a guest coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in the spring of 1997, joined Winthrop University as a coach in 1997-98 and was pitching coach at Maine from 1998-2001.

He coached Niagara for two seasons and this is his ninth year running the Griffs, winning MAAC coach of the year honours three times: 2003 at Niagara, 2008 and 2010 at Canisius, which is known as Team Canada in the MAAC.


* * *

Shoppers from Toronto to the Niagara peninsula cross the bridge to Buffalo to shop and eat chicken wings.

The best high schoolers in Canada either drive over or fly into Niagara/Buffalo airport to play for McRae. This season he has 13 Canucks in all from four different provinces:

C Brooklyn Foster (Langley, BC), RHP Billy Martin (Mississauga, Ont.), RHP Jon Fitzsimmons (London, Ont.), RHP Jason Rubenstein (Thornhill, Ont.) INF Jose Torralba (Mississauga, Ont.) OF Shane Zimmer (St. Albert, Alta.), C Michael Booth (Lakeshore, Ont.), OF Michael Krische (Langley, BC), 1B-3B Connor Panas (Toronto Ont.), RHP Iannick Remmillard (Valleyfield, Que.), RHP Devon Stewart (Maple Ridge, BC), 1B-OF Brett Siddall (Windsor, Ont.) and RHP Tyler Soucie (Cambridge, Ont.).


How they won: The No. 3 seeded Griffs opened with a 2-1 win over the No. 2 seeded Marist Red Foxes. Down 1-0 in the fifth, Torralba reached on a fielding error and Krische was hit by pitch. After a ground ball and a walk, another walk forced in Torralba to tie the score.

Foster singled to left leading off the sixth and after Panas walked, the runners were bunted over and the tie-breaking run scored on a Krische grounder. Foster had a pair of hits while Panas singled.

Next, Canisius pounded the No. 1 ranked Rider Broncs 18-7, but it was not always lopsided. The Griffs and Rider were tied 7-7 in the sixth when Canisius exploded for eight runs.

After a lead-off single, Foster singled and Panas bunted over the runners. An error allowed one run to score and Torralba was hit by a pitch. Krische singled to right to drive in a run. After a two-run single, a two-run triple and a walk, Foster hit a two-run single to right. Krische had three hits, including his seventh double, knocking in two runs and stealing his 11th base. Foster had two hits and two RBIs. Stewart gained the win, working five innings and allowing two runs on eight hits and one walk as he fanned one. Stewart evened his record at 5-5.

The big-inning Griffs were victimized by the Siena Saints in the final as Siena scored six times in the seventh to overcome a 10-3 deficit and two more in the ninth tying the game at 11-11. Larry Balkwill (Chatham, Ont.) hit a two-run homer off Fitzsimmons in the ninth tying the score. Balkwill also doubled, knocking in three runs.

Rubinstein allowed three runs in the seventh. Fitzimmons, who allowed one earned run throughout the season, allowed one run in the seventh and then the two-run homer to Balkwill.

Foster walked with two out in the bottom of the ninth and advanced to second on a Panas single. After a walk, Torralba was hit by a 2-2 pitch and the celebration had begun -- once Torralba came down from jumping four feet into the air. Panas was 4-for-5 with three RBIs, while Torralba was 3-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs. Krische added a base hit.


* * *

That was the good news -- a trip to the NCAA dance.

And now the not-so-good news -- the Griffs get to play the No. 1 team in the nation the North Carolina Tar Heels on their home turf at Boshamer Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Yet the Stony Creek Seawolves went into LSU and knocked off the Tigers in a best-of-three series which Stony Brook should have swept.


* * *

On the season ... to date ... Foster hit .353  with 11 doubles, a triple, two homers and 30 RBIs in 40 games ... Panas batted .321 with six doubles, three triples, a homer and 18 RBIs in 49 games ...  Siddall batted .320 with seven doubles, two triples, a homer and 29 RBIs in 43 games ... Torralba batted .273 with nine doubles, two triples, a homer and 23 RBIs appearing in 52 games ... Krische batted .252 with seven doubles, two triples and 19 RBIs in 48 games ... Booth hit .247 with a double and 11 RBIs in 29 games ... Zimmer batted .208 with five doubles, a triple a homer and 14 RBIs in 38 games.

On the mound ... Stewart was 5-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 14 games making 13 stats, as he walked 24 and struck out 47 in 77 2/3 innings ... Fitzsimmons, who allowed only one run until the conference final, was 4-0 with a 1.19 ERA and 10 saves as he walked 18 and struck out 36 in 30 1/3 innings ... Remillard was 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA in 14 games making three starts as he walked seven and struck out 17 in 26 2/3 innings ... Soucie was 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA in 10 games, walking five and fanning 11 in 9 2/3 innings ... Rubinstein was 1-0 with a   5.48 ERA in 16 games, walking 13 and fanning 15 in 23 innings ... Martin was 0-1 with a 12.27 ERA in five games, making three starts as he walked four and struck out seven in 11 innings.

Griffs headed to: Chapel Hill, N.C., Regional

1. North Carolina* 52-8 (1) vs. 4. Canisius* 42-15

2. Florida Atlantic* 39-20 vs. 3. Towson* 29-28


* * *

Siena opened with a 7-1 loss to Rider.

Then, Balkwill singled and knocked in a run in a 12-5 win against Marist.

Balkwill had two hits including a game-tying single in the ninth as Siena won 11-8 in 10 innings.

On the season ... Balkwill hit .267 with 15 doubles, a triple, eight homers and 48 RBIs in 57 games.

* * *

A total of 110 began fall ball in September hoping to qualify for the 64-team tourney and march down the road to Omaha.

This spring 27 Canucks have qualified up from 10 in 2012, led by the Stony Brook Seawolves four, 17 in 2011,  led by the Maine Black Bears, 15 in 2010, led by three Georgia State Panthers and three Stoney Brook Seawolves and 18 in 2009 two Gonzaga Bulldogs Georgia State Panthers, Oklahoma Sooners and Binghamton Bearcats.


The others:

_ RF Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) Bryant Bulldogs.

How they won: When Game 1 of the Northeast Conference ended it wasn’t a fun walk to the clubhouse at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, N.J. Bryant opened with a 7-2 loss to Long Island-Brooklyn Blackbirds. Mountford was 3-for-4 with two doubles and a stolen base.

Bryant got back on track with an 11-1 win over the Monmouth Hawks to move to 1-1, as Mountford was hitless in two at-bats.

Then, Bryant took two pounds of revenge against LIU Brooklyn with a 16-1 win as Mountford doubled, singled and drove in a pair of runs.

Mountford went 3-for-5 with a triple in a 6-3 win over the Sacred Heart driving in three runs.

And in the tourney championship game, Mountford was 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI in an 8-0 win against Sacred Heart,  the four-straight elimination game for the Bulldogs.


* * *

Mountford was named tournament MVP and to the all-tournament team going 10-for-19 with six RBIs, with nine runs scored, four doubles and a triple. Quick name the last five Canadians to win conference tourney MVP honours.

For Bryant its the first time the Bulldogs have qualified for the 64-team tourney ... as it was the first time the Bulldogs could advance under coach Steve Owens.

In its first season of NCAA Division I postseason eligibility, Bryant waited four full years for the chance to head to baseball’s version of the Big Dance.

Winning the NEC title had been about the only thing Bryant was unable to accomplish during its first four years of the reclassification process to Division I. The Bulldogs, who have played a full NEC schedule since 2010, have finished atop the league’s regular season standings three times in four years.

On the Bryant season ... to date ... the former Ontario Terrier, who played for coach Danny Thompsom, hit .320 with 17 doubles, three triples, three homers and 22 RBIs while going 16-for-18 stealing bases. He scored 49 runs in 50 games.

Bulldogs headed to: Manhattan, Kan., Regional

1. Kansas State^ 41-17 vs. 4. Wichita State* 39-28

2. Arkansas^ 37-20 vs. 3. Bryant* 44-16-1


* * *

3B Chris Untereiner (Regina, Sask.) singled and knocked in a run for LIU in the 7-2 win over Bryant.

LIU lost its first game 8-7 to the Sacred Heart Pioneers as RP Even Zerff (Regina, Sask.) was charged with four unearned runs in an 8-7 loss to Sacred Heart. C Untereiner was 3-for-4 with three RBIs.

On the LIU Blackbird season ... Untereiner earned second-team honours with 13 doubles, a homer, 24 RBIs and a .297 average in 55 games. Zerff was 2-1 with a 3.61 ERA and two saves. He walked 19 and struck out 49 in 52 1/3 innings.


_ RHP J.D. Moore (Mississauga, Ont.), INF Jordan Varga (Port Coquitlam, BC), LHP Shane Kraemer (Vancouver, BC), INF Daniel Marra (Toronto, Ont.) and OF Daniel Telford (Newmarket, Ont.) South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

How they won: The Summit Conference tourney was not supposed to open this way for No. 1 ranked South Dakota State, which fell 4-2 to the No. 4th-ranked Western Illinois Leathernecks at OU Field in Rochester, Mich. Hodges pitched two scoreless innings allowing four hits, walking one and striking out one. Marra was hitless.

DH Telford homered, singled and knocked in two runs in an 8-4 win over the No. 2 ranked Oakland Grizzlies. It was Telford’s sixth homer. Moore worked a scoreless ninth allowing one hit. Oakland was led by 3B Spencer Marentette (Windsor, Ont.) who had two hits.

DH Telford doubled, singled and knocked in a pair as the Jackrabbits edged Western Illinois 5-4. SS Marra added a single. Moore pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for his 12th save.

Moore recorded the final four outs, the first three on strikeouts, as South Dakota State blanked North Dakota State 2-0 to force a final. For Moore it was his 13th save, as Marra and Telford each singled.

With two out in the final game, a single put a runner aboard, then after a wild pitch and a passed ball,  Telford doubled to left centre. Telford doubled again, his ninth. Kraemer made the run stand up pitching 5 1/3 innings allowing five hits. He struck out two to move his record to 4-2. Kraemer did not allow a hit through the first 3 1/3 innings, but later worked out of a jam in the fifth inning by stranding runners at the corners. Kraemer exited with two runners on and one out in the sixth.


* * *

Telford earned all-tournament honours along with Moore, while Telford was a first team All-Summit Conference, as Moore earned second team honours.

On the season ... to date ... Telford hit .425 with seven doubles, three triples, six homers and 35 RBIs in 38 games. Marra batted .273 with six doubles and 24 RBIs in 51 games. Varga hit .190 with a homer and seven RBIs in 13 games.

On the mound ... Moore was 0-1 with 12 saves and a 1.75 ERA as he walked 14 and struck out 28 in 25 2/3 innings. Hodges was 3-2 with two saves with a 4.94 ERA, walking 15 and striking out 18 in 27 1/3 innings in 15 games. Kraemer was 3-2 with a 5.06 ERA walking 14 and fanning 37 in 13 games.

Jackrabbits off to Eugene, Ore., Regional

1. Oregon* (4) 45-14 vs. 4. South Dakota State* 35-22

2. Rice 41-17 vs. 3. San Francisco^ 34-22


* * *

Oakland lost its opener 2-0 to North Dakota State as Marentette singled.

On the Oakland season ... Martenette hit .227 with four doubles, 12 RBIs in 48 games. RHP Lucas Scocchia, (Thunder Bay, Ont.) was 0-4 with an 8.61 ERA in 13 games. He walked 14 and struck out 12 in 23 innings.


_ LHP Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, Ont.) and RHP Zak Miller (Surrey, BC) Arizona State Sun Devils.

How they finished: The No. 13th-ranked Arizona State lost the opener of its final series, an 8-7 decision to Washington.

Kellogg pitched seven innings as ASU beat the Washington Huskies 14-4 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Wash. before 689 fans. He allowed four runs on 10 hits and a walk as he upped his record to 11-0. Kellogg took sole possession of third place on ASU’s single-season freshmen wins list. He allowed just five base runners over his final five innings of work. It was the sixth start in his career that he did not walk a batter and he moved into fifth place on the school’s single-season freshmen innings pitched list with 96 2/3.

Miller started the final game of the three-game series, a 7-2 loss to Washington. Miller pitched 5 2/3 innings and left with the score deadlocked 2-2. He allowed two runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out one.

On the season ... to date ... Kellogg was 11-0 with a 3.26 ERA. He walked 15 and struck out 51 in 96 2/3 innings in 15 games, making 14 starts. Miller was 4-0 with a 4.56 ERA. He walked 23 and struck out 22 in  49 1/3 innings in 12 games, making 10 starts.

The Sun Devils off to: Fullerton, Calif., Regional

1. Cal State Fullerton* (6) 48-8 vs. 4. Columbia* 27-19

2. Arizona State^ 35-20 vs. 3. New Mexico^ 37-20


_ OF Jacob Robson (Windsor, Ont.) and INF Kyle Hann (Oakville, Ont.) Mississippi State University.

How they finished: The fifth-seeded Mississippi State Bulldogs opened the Southeastern Conference tourney with a 2-1 win over Missouri in 17 innings in front of 5,404 at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Ala. After a lead-off walk in the bottom of the 17th, Hann pinch ran, was bunted to second, Robson struck out swinging and a single to right centre scored Hann with the game winner. The game was matched the longest game played in MSU history and was the longest in Missouri history and also matched the longest SEC tournament game ever played while setting a new standard for the Hoover Met. In 1994, Auburn defeated Arkansas 3-1 in a 17-inning affair at the SEC Western Division Tournament held in Oxford.

The Bulldogs beat No. 12 South Carolina 5-3 in the second game before 5,913 fans.

Next came a 6-4 win over the Texas A@M Aggies in front of 8,143 fans.

LF Robson singled in a run and 3B Hann singled as the Vanderbilt Commodores beat the Bullogs 16-8 before 11,689 fans.


* * *

On the season ... to date ... Hann hit .219 with one RBI in 24 games, while Robson batted .208 with two doubles and 16 RBIs in 45 games.

Bulldogs off to Starkville, Miss., Regional

1. Mississippi State^ 43-17 vs. 4. Central Arkansas 39-20

2. South Alabama^ 41-18 vs. 3. Mercer^ 49-18


* * *

Rob Zastryzny (Edmonton, Alta.) pitched nine innings for the Missouri Tigers against Mississippi State Bulldogs. Zastryzny allowed one run on seven hits and two walks, while striking out seven.

On the season ... for the Tigers Zastryzny was 2-9 with a 3.38 ERA in 13 starts. Big Friday walked 24 and struck out 82 in 90 2/3 innings.


_ C Kelly Norris-Jones (Victoria, BC), Illinois Fighting Illini.

How they finished: Norris-Jones had a pair of hits as Illinois lost the Big Ten final to the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Target Field.

Illinois opened with a 3-2 loss to Minnesota and then beat the Michigan Wolverines by a 3-2 count with Norris-Jones behind the plate,

On the season ... to date ... Norris-Jones is hitting .167 with two doubles and four RBIs in 23 games.

Illini headed to: Nashville, Tenn., Regional

1. Vanderbilt^ (2) 51-9 vs. 4. East Tennessee State* 38-22

2. Georgia Tech^ 34-25 vs. 3. Illinois^ 34-18


_ C Brent Mitchell (Paris, Ont.) South Alabama Jaguars.

How they finished: The 2nd-seeded South Alabama opened with a 10-2 win over seventh-seeded Arkansas Little Rock University in the opener of the Sun Belt Conference tournament in Lafayette, La. Mitchell took over as a defensive replacement.

The Louisiana-Lafayette Rajun Cajuns beat South Alabama 9-2 before 1,444 fans.

South Alabama edged Florida International 7-6 with Mitchell taking over as a defensive replacement.

The Rajun Cajuns eliminated South Alabama 12-2 before 1,612 fans.


* * *

On the season ... to date Mitchell hit .302, with two homers and eight RBIs in 42 games.

Jaguars off to Starkville, Miss., Regional

1. Mississippi State^ 43-17 vs. 4. Central Arkansas 39-20

2. South Alabama^ 41-18 vs. 3. Mercer^ 49-18


_ OF Sasha LaGarde (Pierrefonds, Que.) Mercer Bears.

How they finished: LaGarde was 2-for-2 and knocked in a run as Mercer beat USC Upstate at Stetson, Fla. in the opener of the Atlantic Sun tournament.

LaGarde singled in a 7-4 loss to East Tennessee State.

Mercer lost 10-1 to USC Upstate.


* * *

On the season ... to date for the Bears, LaGarde hit .306 with seven doubles, a triple, seven homers and 33 RBIs in 59 games.

Bears are off to Starkville, Regional

1. Mississippi State^ 43-17 vs. 4. Central Arkansas 39-20

2. South Alabama^ 41-18 vs. 3. Mercer^ 49-18


_ INF Brendan Hendriks (Cochrane, Alta.) San Francisco Dons.

How they finished San Francisco beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs 8-5 in the opener of the WCC championship tourney at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif.

Next came a 10-8 win over the San Diego Toreros.

Then a 2-0 loss to San Diego.


* * *

On the season ... to date for the Diamond Dons, Henricks hit .178 with eight RBIs in 50 games.

Diamond Dons off to: Eugene, Ore., Regional

1. Oregon* (4) 45-14 vs. 4. South Dakota State* 35-22

2. Rice 41-17 vs. 3. San Francisco^ 34-22


_ Joel Stubbs (Norwich, Ont.) Binghamton Bearcats.

How they won: Binghamton won its opener beating the Albany Great Danes 9-0 at the America East conference at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Mass.

The Bearcats beat the Maine Black Bears 10-2.

Next came a 6-1 loss to Maine.

Binghamton won its berth in the NCAA with a 4-0 win over Maine.


* * *

On the season ... Stubbs was sidelined with lower back issues.

Bearcats off to Raleigh, N.C. Regional

1. NC State^ 44-14 (5) 44-14 vs. 4. Binghamton* 30-23

2. Mississippi* 37-22 vs. 3. William & Mary^ 37-22


* * *

Maine opened with a 7-0 win over the Stony Brook Seawolves as 1B Alex Calbick (Burnaby, BC) had two hits and knocked in a run. 2B Troy Black (Mississauga, Ont.) had a pair of hits. RF Brian Doran (Ayr, Ont.) singled.

Then came the 10-2 loss to Binghamton as Calbick had three hits, while Black singled. RP Jake Marks (Brights Grove, Ont.) worked a scorless innings, walking two.

Black had three hits and knocked in a run in a 6-1 win against Binghamton. Doran had two hits and drove in a run, while Calbick had two hits as well.

Maine eliminated Stony Brook by a 3-1 score.

Calbick and Doran each singled in the 4-0 loss in the finale.

On the season for Maine ... Black led the team hitting .369 with five doubles, two triples, a homer and 24 RBIs in 53 games. Doran batted .314 with 11 doubles, a triple, a homer and 23 RBIs in 54 games. Calbick hit .281 with 20 doubles, a triple, two homers and 33 RBIs.

On the mound ... Marks was 4-0 with a 3.16 ERA, walking 16 and striking out 17 in 31 1/3 innings in 14 games, making four starts.


* * *

SS Cole Peragine (Belle Ewart, Ont.) singled for the Seawolves, the Cinderella kids of a year ago in their 7-0 loss to Maine.

Stony Brook beat Albany 3-1 as 1B Johnny Caputo (Etobicoke, Ont.) had three hits and Peragine two.

Stony Brook was eliminated with a 3-1 setback to Maine. Caputo had two hits for the Seawolves, while RF Tanner Nivins (Kitchener, Ont.) and Peragine each singled.

On the season ... Peragine hit .289 with five doubles, two triples, one homer and 19 RBIs in 54 games. Caputo hit .271 with 10 homers, five triples and 20 RBIs in 59 games. Nivins batted .238 with five doubles, three triples a homer and 27 RBIs in 54 games.


* Denotes automatic bid

^ Denotes at-large bid


Canadians in the NCAA field of 64 on the Road to Omaha and the College World Series

Position players Avg. HRs RBIs

C Michael Booth, Lakeshore, Ont. Canisius .247, 0, 11

C Brooklyn Foster, Langley, B.C. Canisius .353, 2, 30

INF Kyle Hann, Oakville, Mississippi State .219, 0, 1

INF Brendan Hendriks, Cochrane, Alta. San Francisco .178, 0, 9

OF Jacob Robson, Windsor, Ont. Mississippi State .208, 0 16

OF Michael Krische, Langley, B.C. Canisius .252, 0, 19

OF Sasha LaGarde, Pierrefonds, Que., Mercer .306, 7, 33

INF Daniel Marra, Toronto, South Dakota State .273, 0, 24

C Brent Mitchell, Paris, Ont. South Alabama .302, 2, 8

RF Jordan Mountford, Guelph, Bryant .320, 3, 22

C Kelly Norris-Jones, Victoria, B.C. Indiana .167, 0, 4

INF Connor Panas, Toronto, Canisius .321, 1, 18

OF Brett Siddall, Windsor, Ont. Canisius .320, 1, 29

OF Daniel Telford, Newmarket, South Dakota State .425, 6, 36

INF Jose Torralba, Mississauga, Ont. Canisius .273, 1, 23

INF Jordan Varga, Port Coquitlam, B.C., South Dakota State .190, 1, 7

OF Shane Zimmer, St. Albert, Alta. Canisius .208, 1, 14



RHP Jon Fitzsimmons, London, Ont. Canisius 4-0, 1.19, 10 saves

LHP Ryan Kellogg, Whitby, Arizona State, 11-0, 3.26

LHP Shane Kraemer, Vancouver, South Dakota State 3-2, 5.06

RHP Billy Martin, Mississauga, Canisius 0-1, 12.27

RHP Zak Miller, Surrey, B.C., Arizona State 4-0, 4.56

RHP J.D. Moore, Mississauga, Ont., South Dakota State 0-1, 1.75 12 saves

RHP Iannick Remmillard, Valleyfield, Que. Canisius 2-0, 3.71

RHP Jason Rubenstein, Thornhill, Canisius 1-0 5.48

RHP Tyler Soucie, Cambridge, Ont., Canisius 1-0, 3.72

RHP Devon Stewart, Maple Ridge, B.C. Canisius 5-5, 4.98