*While Jose Bautista and Jeff Mathis came home for the fifth annual Chipola College Indians alumni weekend, Sasha LaGarde (Pierrefonds, Que.), Brian Bardis (St Constant, Que.) and Jonathan Paquet (l’Ancienne-Lorette, Que.) went about business as usual./Photos: Clint Cox .... 2012 Canadians in College 2012 Canadians draft list 2011 Most Influential Canadians Letters of Intent 2011 All-Canadian College team 2011 Canadians in the Minors
By Bob Elliott
MARIANNA, Fla. -- Alumni weekend can mean many things on each respective campus:
Catching up with old classmates, students cheering “Hire Us, We Want a Job!” as the graduates from decades past parade around the outside track or simply one alumni helping a current player.
At the Chipola College alumni weekend and home run derby, OF Sasha LaGarde (Pierrefonds, Que.) explained over a fine meal of Mexican food along with LHP Brian Bardis (St Constant, Que.) and RHP Jonathan Paquet (l’Ancienne-Lorette, Que.) how two-time, major-league home run champ Jose Bautista, who used to occupy the same Chipola outfield, had helped him, just as coach Jeff Johnson had helped him.
“A year ago he gave me a tape on hitting ... I listen to it before every game,” LaGarde said. “I’m not sure who it is ... but I know the voice well.”
Who could it be? The wise words of current hitting coach Dwayne Murphy?
Former Jays hitting coach and manager Cito Gaston?
“Steve Springer,” said Bautista the next day. “Chris Duffy gave it to me in 2001 when I was with the Pittsburgh Pirates.”
Springer is now a pro scout and a performance coach for the Jays, but his CD entitled Quality At-Bats, on the mental approach to hitting has been around for years.
When the Jays hired Springer to monitor the performance of their minor leaguers he instituted a quality at-bat program which teams keep track of the way they keep track of doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs and stolen bases.
Oh, and the centre fielder also had one memorable catch on the warning track as Chipola edged Northwest Florida State 6-5 in 11 innings to win the FCSAA state tournament championship at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland.
“They were down a run with two out and had runners at first and third, the guy hit it to left centre and I made a sliding gave-saving catch on the track,” LaGarde said.
Usually after the final out is registered there is a dog pile on the mound as the pitcher records the final out.
“A couple of guys came rushing out to me,” LaGarde said, “but most of them were on the mound.”
He also had two hits -- giving him seven for the championship -- knocked in a run and scored a run to help get Chipola back to the Alpine Bank JUCO World Series at Grand Junction, Col.
Chipola opened the Florida championships with a 3-1 win over Lake Sumter as LaGarde had a pair of hit.
Next came a 17-5 romp over Broward College.
LaGarde had a pair of hits in a 7-3 loss to Northwest Florida State.
He then tripled an knocked in a run in an 8-0 win over Santa Fe.
To reach the final Chipola blanked Polk State 5-0.
Chipola got off on the right foot as LaGarde had a pair of hits, including a second-inning two-run double, and knocked in three runs as the Indians beat Grayson County 19-13 before 5,632 fans.
LaGarde singled in a 3-2 loss to Navarro in front of 8,718.
“Playing in front of that many people was cool,” LaGarde said. “But after that Navarro loss we kind of ran out of gas.”
LaGarde singled for one of the Indians five hits as the Iowa Western Reivers eliminated Chipola with a 13-0 win.
Legendary scout Ray Callari, the only Canadian to get a World Series ring in 2010 from his employers the San Francisco Giants helped LaGarde get to Chipola.
“He runs 6.6, 6.7 yard dash and usually hits at the top of our lineup,” said coach Jeff Johnson, who coached Bautista, as well as Russell Martin, Adam Loewen and others.
LaGarde, who played for the LaSalle Cardinals in Ligue de baseball junior élite du Québec, had a choice: University of Buffalo or Clarendon College before LaGarde the decision was made to head to the baseball factory.
“There is not a lot to do here, but that’s why all the teams become families,” LaGarde said. In 2007, baseball, led by RHP Drew Parker (Surrey, BC), softball, plus men’s and women’s basketball all either won the state or the national championships.
LaGarde was injured hit in the calf by a curve ball.
“It was the strangest thing, I got hit with a breaking ball and the next day is began to swell,” said LaGarde, who this season is hitting .270 with a double and one RBI.
We saw Bardis get the win against San Jacinto with four innings of relief.
He took over in the sixth with a 2-1 lead and suddenly found himself pitching with two out and the bases loaded after a bloop, an infield hit and a walk. The next San Jac hitter hit a rope which nearly took the left fielder’s head off, but Jordan Poole made the grab.
Bardis allowed a run the next inning -- after five scoreless innings State College of Florida, a 4-1 win as he pitched up the save and two scoreless against Shelton State as he gained the save in a 2-0 win -- it was the first he’d allowed in eight runs to begin the season.
Chipola scored twice in the eighth to give Bardis the win.
Bardis spent the spring in 2011 with St. Petersburg College before transferring.
“I got my release after my freshman year,” Bardis said. “It’s more organized here than St. Pete’s.”
Working three innings in a 10-1 win over St. John’s River College, Bardis gained the win. He’s now worked four games picking up two runs and two saves and owns a find-it-if-you-can team-low ERA of 0.64. In 14 innings Bardis has walked six and struck out eight.
“Brian is a very good competitor with a good curve ball and change as well,” said Johnson, “he’s one of our best left-handers.”
Jacques Lanciault, the dean of Quebec amateur ball scribes, described Paquet as “a gem of Québec pitcher.”
The 6-foot-4 200 pounder was a 36th round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in 2009 and a 22nd round choice of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010, following the likes of Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.), James Paxton (Ladner, BC) and Chris Bisson (Orleans, Ont.) to UK.
“Kentucky wasn’t the right place for me, the program had some issues,” said Paquet, who pitched only 11 1/3 innings due to injury. He had a 4.76 ERA in four games, making three starts, as he allowed 15 hits and six runs, while walking five and striking out 10.
Paquet said he didn’t “get the right treatment” until he returned home where physiotherapist Jean-Phillippe Boivin of the Quebec City Capitales and chiropractor Phillippe Croisetiere got him back into throwing shape.
“I didn’t throw for six months,” said Paquet, bothered by a nerve problem from throwing too many curve balls.
He returned home and worked out with coach Jean-Philippe Roy’s St. Lawrence Lions, as well as the Diamants de Québec.
“I left Kentucky on good terms, they gave me my release,” said Paquet.
We saw Paquet take the loss in a 9-1 setback to Walter State on alumni weekend. He pitched 3 2/3 innings allowing three runs on six hits and three walks, while fanning four.
In his debut, he took the loss in a 9-3 setback to Miami-Dade, allowing four runs -- one earned -- on four hits, as he fanned two. Next, he had a no decision against Pensacola, pitching five innings and allowing one run on one hit and two walks, while striking out four.
Paquet gained the victory in a 7-2 decision over Wallace State-Dothan, pitching five innings and allowing two runs on four hits and three walk, as he fanned four.
To date, Paquet is 1-2 with a 4.02 ERA, walking eight and fanning 14 in 15 2/3 inning.
“Paquet- has had his fastball clocked anywhere from 86-90 MPH,” said Johnson. “He shows a very good change up. He should be in among our top three in conference rotation and he’s added a good curve ball.”
At the Canada Cup, Paquet hurled five scoreless against British Columbia, allowing only three hits, walking two and striking out five. Against Ontario, he pitched a complete-game shut out giving up two hits and no walks, striking out five. His cousin Frederik Henry played for the New Jersey Devils.
Chipola grads to reach the next level
Name, Canadian hometown, Round, Minors/Majors
Dennis Lewallyn, 1st round, 12 years, Dodgers, Rangers, Indians, 34 games in majors, Dodgers, Indians
Jason Green, Port Hope, Ont., 30th, 8 yrs. Astros system, 14 games, Astros
T.J. Large, 46th, 6 yrs Red Sox system
Allan Horne, 11th, 5 yrs, Yankees system
David Mixon, 20th, 5 yrs Giants system
Patrick Corbin, 2nd, 3 yrs., Angels
Ryan Chafee, 3rd, 3 yrs., Angels
Bobby Jones, 44th, Brewers, Rockies, Mets, Royals systems 11 seasons, 95 games Rockies, Mets, Red Sox,
Adam Loewen 1st, 5 years Orioles systems, 49 games Jays, Orioles
Russell Martin, Montreal, 17th, 5 yrs minors, Dodgers, 792 games Dodgers, Yankees
Tyler Flowers, 33rd round, 6 yrs. minors, 56 games White Sox
Cole Armstrong, Surrey, BC, 16th, 9 yrs Braves, White Sox, Angels systems
Eric Yelding, 1st, 10 yrs. Jays, Astros, Cubs, Indians, Mariners systems, 368 games Astros, Cubs
Mat Gamel, 4th, 7 yrs Brewers system, 75 ganes Brewrs
Ricky Jones, 33rd, 9 yrs Orioles, Twins system, 16 games Orioles
Charlie Dees, 38th, 3 yrs Orioles, Rangers systems
Ivan Naccarata, 21st, Montreal, Que., 3 yrs Mets system
Jose Bautista, 20th, 7 yrs Pirates system, 885 games Blue Jays, Pirates, Royals, Rays, Orioles
Hosken Poewell, 1st, 6 yrs. Twins, Brewers, 594 games with Jays, Twins
Rene Tosoni, Port Coquitlam, BC, 36th, 5 yrs Twins, 60 games Twins
Darren Ford, 18th, 7 yrs Brewers, Giants, 33 games Giants
Ricardo Nanita, 14th, 9 yrs, White Sox, Nationals, Blue Jays
Dennis Carter, 1st, 7 yrs., Cardinals system
Buck Showalter, 5th, 7 yrs. Yankees system
Blake Balkcom, 5th, 3 yrs. Angels system
LeVon Washington, 2nd, 1 yr. Indians system
Marc Bourgeoiss, Granby, Que, 42nd, 1 yr Diamondbacks system
And the fifth annual Chipola alumni home run derby
Jeff Mathis, Angels, Jays 5
Blake Balkcom, Chipola, Angels minors 4
Adam Bigale, Chipola 1
Moises Feliz, Chipola, Cumberland 1
Jake Mathis, Chipola, Alabama-Huntsville 1
Jose Bautista, Chipola, Jays 5
Fernando Isa, Chipola, Louisville 2
Allan Horne, Chipola, University of Floria 0
Lane Floyd, Chipola, Kennesaw State 0
Charlie Dees, Chipola, Orioles, Rangers minors 1
Jeff Bosse, Chipola, Stetson 0
Travis Anderson, Chipola, Florida State 0
Richie Smith, Chipola, Florida State 0
Jeff Mathis 8