Batavia grad Griffin Della Penna earns SPJ scholarship

By Howard Owens
Aug 18, 2021, 8:10am

Press release:

Communications students from Canisius College, St. Bonaventure University, Syracuse University and the University at Albany have won awards for the upcoming academic year from the Greater Buffalo Society of Professional Journalists College Scholarship Fund.

Meghan Brink of Allegany, N.Y. attends the University at Albany where as editor-in-chief of the Albany Student Press, she played a key role in reviving the independent student newspaper. She has also been an intern with New York StateWatch. 

Griffin Della Penna of Batavia attends Canisius College where he has been focusing on sports journalism. He served as the team broadcaster and director of media relations for the Batavia Muckdogs this past summer and has accepted a position to be a ESPN 3 broadcaster at Canisius for its soccer programs. 

Meghan Hall of Amherst attends St. Bonaventure University and has contributed to TAPinto Greater Olean, an online newspaper. She has also worked part-time at the Olean Times Herald and served as a fellow at the Carnegie-Knight News21 Program at Arizona State University.

Jenna Wirth of Williamsville attends Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications where she has contributed more than 150 articles to print and digital publications. She was a fellow for Popsugar, a digital lifestyle publication, as well as Health magazine. 

“These four talented individuals have distinguished themselves as exceptional student journalists,” said Fund Chair Brian Meyer. “We believe they possess enormous potential and will achieve great things in their professions.”

This marks the 43rd year that the local organization has awarded annual scholarships to aspiring and professional journalists. Since the late 1970s, the group has awarded 155 scholarships totaling more than $135,000. Winners have attended about 30 different colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

The program helps future and current journalists in Western New York, Northwest Pennsylvania and Southern Ontario. Five trustees, chosen for staggered five-year terms, serve without remuneration. Nearly 100 percent of all fund revenues are awarded as scholarships. 

Despite loss, lack of playoff berth, first-year of collegiate baseball in Batavia ends on a high note

By Howard Owens
Jul 30, 2021, 1:51pm


The collegiate-player version of the Batavia Muckdogs finished out its inaugural season in a way that was rare when professional ballplayers passed through town -- with a stadium full of fans excited to see a team they embraced in 2021 because the team embraced this city.

"It’s been great," said Tom Turnbull, a regular Dwyer Stadium visitor, and local community leader. "You can see the spirit, the vibe, the college kind of rah-rah that the players have and it’s carried over into the stands. People are just happy to have the Muckdogs back. It’s just been a wonderful year. They’ve been a part of the community and when you go to a concession stand and the owner is working the cash register, you know they’re invested in the city. It’s been fantastic."

For a Thursday evening, the stands were packed and there was a palatable excitement in the air.

"We’re thrilled, my wife and I pleasantly surprised," said owner Robbie Nichols during a conversation at a table where fans were bidding on player jerseys. "You can sea from the crowd tonight the support we’ve recieved. We had a short season to put it together. You’ll see next season, this place will be packed every night."

The reason for the success, Nichols noted, is the team -- not just Nichols and management staff, but coaches and players -- have gotten involved in the community over the past couple of months, in a way the pro players of the previous era never did.

Community is what is also about Nichols said.

"We always say, my wife and I are the holders of the keys but this is a community team," Nichols said. "You see people over there in line, talking, having a beer, people bringing their grandkids to the game, and that’s what it’s all about.  It’s America’s game. It’s about bringing your family to the ballpark and Batavia answered the bell and this crowd is amazing."

Community is a big reason Nichols announced before last night's game that he's offering Coach Joey Martinez and two-year extension on his contract.

"It’s community first," Nichols said. "Wins and losses are important but it’s how we are out in the community, attending events and doing things. I think our team did a great job this year and we want to continue that. That’s what I want to continue. I like working out in the community helping everybody we can especially special olympics, challenger division baseball, the parades we did, reading to people, the veterans, all the stuff we did, that’s what I’m most excited about."

The players enjoyed the year, too.  Players who have more college eligibility after this season have said they want to come back to Batavia next year.  That will go a long way building a stronger baseball organization.  Martinez only had a short time after the Muckdogs joined the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League to recruit players and few potential players knew anything about Batavia. After this season, Nichols noted, that will change. He said this year's players will go back to their schools and tell the best players on their teams, "you want to go to Batavia."

“I think the team is really going to improve next year," Nichols said.

This year, the Muckdogs finished just out of the running for a playoff spot with a final record of 22-19, one game behind Geneva for the coveted second playoff spot of the Western Division. If not for a rainout and some rescheduling confusion with Geneva, maybe the Muckdogs would have had a better shot at the playoffs, but last night's loss to Niagara wouldn't have helped matters.

Starter Julian Pichardo, who has been the ace of the staff this season, got hurt by three first inning errors and gave up a couple of solid base hits allowing Niagara to score three first-inning runs.  Pichardo battled through 3 1/3 innings giving up four hits, three runs (only one earned), and striking out two.  He finishes with a 4-2 record and a 2.46 ERA.

Abner Benitez had a big night at the plate going 3-5 and driving in five runs.  He finishes the year with a .282 BA and 27 RBIs.

"Next year going to have win early and win often (to make the playoffs)," Nichols said.

Photos by Philip Casper. Top photo: Dewey wishing there was more Muckdogs’ baseball in Batavia this year.


Young fans at Dwyer catching some up close pregame action while the players warm up.


Charlie Szykowny & Julian Pichardo


Coach Jose ’Skip’ Martinez after being offered a 2-year contract extension by Robbie Nichols



Charlie Szykowny 


Dancing on the dugout with Dewey


Blair Frederick charging towards first after a successful bunt


Blair Frederick crossing home plate 


Daniel Burroway


Julian Pichardo thanks the fans as he walks off the field for the last time in 2021

Grandfather of player makes Muckdogs tribute video

By Howard Owens
Jul 27, 2021, 5:21pm

Mike Baluja -- that's the name on the YouTube channel this video appears on -- made this video as a tribute to the 2021 Batavia Muckdogs and coach Joey Martinez.  

He wrote in the description:

A tribute to the Batavia Muckdogs inaugural year in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Dedicated to Coach Joey Martinez, who saw my grandson at a showcase in December of 2020, and invited him to be among this very special group of players that he had assembled. His persistence and advice were instrumental in influencing our decision. It turned out to be a very rewarding experience for those involved.

The Muckdogs have two games left in their season that will go a long way in determinng whether they make the playoffs.  They're in Jamestown tomorrow night to take on the first-place Tarp Skunks and at home at 7 p.m. on Thursday to play Niagara. 

Szykowny's four-run blast helps power Muckdogs to 11-1 win

By Howard Owens
Jul 23, 2021, 2:51pm


Batavia hitters unloaded on Newark pitchers Thursday evening in an offensive onslaught that included a grand slam home run by shortstop Charlie Szykowny (top and bottom photos).

Szykowny went 2-2 raising his season average to .311. The big blast was Szykowny's first HR of the season. 

Batavia native Jerry Reinhart was 2-3, scoring twice.

The Muckdogs won 11-1 lifting the team's recored to 19-17. Batavia is in third place, a half-game behind the Geneva Red Wings with six games to go in the regular season. 

Blair Frederick was the winning pitcher, going five and a third innings, giving up only two hits, walking one and whiffing eight.

The Muckdogs' final home games of the regular season are tonight at 7 against Jamestown, Sunday at 4:05 p.m. also against Jamestown, and Thursday, 7:05 p.m., against Niagara Power. Jamestown is in first place in the Western Division with a record of 26-12.

Photos by Philip Casper.


David Chua throwing out the first pitch.


Blair Frederick



Daniel Burroway 


Jerry Reinhart with a head-first slide into second base after a line drive into right field.


Reinhart scores.


Muckdogs game ends in cussing and confusion and it remains unclear if there was a winner

By J Burns
Jul 19, 2021, 11:43am


UPDATE 11:58 a.m.: Griffin Dellapenna, the Muckdogs' broadcaster, says the Muckdogs won 10-10.

Yesterday's Batavia Muckdogs game against Elmira ended in confusion and we still don't really know what happened.

Fans left the game thinking the Pioneers forfeited but the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League lists the game as suspended and is not listing the game as a win for the Muckdogs in the Western Division standings.

By all appearance in the bottom of the ninth, the Muckdogs won on a walk-off check swing. Yeah, that sounds crazy, but that’s what happened. To quote the Dwyer Stadium announcer “I think we just won 10-10 folks."

The tone was set for the crazy ending in the bottom of the first inning where Batavia scored two runs off a wild pitch, one that appeared to hit the batter in the foot. Elmira Pioneers felt this should have been a dead ball and the batter should have taken first base; the umpire ruled it a wild pitch and the two runs scored. From this point forward the relationship between the Pioneers and the umpires was, well, contentious. An inning later, the Elmira coach was ejected during a vigorous discussion with an umpire.

After five innings Batavia led 8-0 and Elmira started to climb back into the game. The game was delayed 30 minutes for a lightning strike in the area and for kids to pick up candy dropped on the field by a helicopter. (The helicopter was one of the less crazy events of the game.) At the end of nine innings, the score was knotted at 10 apiece.

In the top of the 10th, the Pioneer pitcher took umbrage with an umpire's ruling that the batter had a checked swing, denying the pitcher a strike call. This happened again on the next pitch and the pitcher, rather colorfully, expressed his disgust with the call as he approached the umpire and was held back by his catcher. The pitcher was ejected from the game. 

Elmira called in a new pitcher from their bullpen and he started to warm up, after a couple of warm-up pitches, the home plate umpire signaled the pitcher he had three more warm-up pitches left before play needed to resume. Yet again, there was another upset Elmira pitcher. He protested in a somewhat impolite way and the umpire responded by signaling he now had only two warm-up pitches remaining.

At this point, the Elmira pitcher used some of the same colorful language to express his dissatisfaction that the previously ejected pitcher did, simultaneously half of the Elmira dugout came onto the field to express their feelings about allowing the pitcher to warm up as did most of the infield. It was at this point the umpire ejected the entire Elmira Pioneers team.  

One would think that would make the final score 10-10, a Batavia win.

Apparently, the league doesn't see it that way and as of this writing, we don't know why.

Once that impromptu craziness was over, it was time for the scheduled craziness to begin, the Battle of the Badges, an exhibition game between Batavia PD and the City of Batavia Fire Department. 

The BPD did try their best including sending a few young children over to the CBFD to tell them “A cat is stuck in a tree, can you come and help?” to distract the firemen. But this tactic did not seem to work. 

After three innings, heavy rain forced the players from the field while the CBFD held a commanding lead over the BPD, 7-0. Three innings is below the five-inning minimum for an official game but we're giving the win to CBFD. But maybe we'll get overruled. That seems to be the way of the night.

There was no official word on the cat in the tree. 















Muckdogs top .500 mark with walk-off win over Jamestown

By Howard Owens
Jul 16, 2021, 3:49pm


On STOP-DWI night at Dwyer Stadium on Thursday, Batavia fans were treated to an entertaining game that ended on a walk-off single by Charlie Szykowny.

Szykowny, primarily a shortstop with a strong arm who is hitting .292 on the season, was also the winning pitcher after giving up four runs in his single frame of work.

The University of Wisconsin-Stout senior had three hits and drove in two runs to lead the Muckdogs' offense to a 7-6 win over Jamestown.

Riding a three-game winning streak, the Muckdogs are over .500 for the first time this season, sitting at 17-16 in third place in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League's Western Division.  

Batavia native Jerry Reinhart, a senior at University of Akron, had one hit and scored twice. 

Abner Benitez tripled as a pinch hitter, driving in two runs and raising his season average to .292.

Starter Julian Pichardo, who came into the game with a 4-1 record, didn't figure in the decision after six innings of work in which he gave up two runs, four hits, and fanned six.

The next home game is Saturday at 7 p.m. vs. Newark.

Photos by Philip Casper.


Dr. Ross Fanara fires in a strike for the first pitch, on his birthday.


Julian Pichardo


Jerry Reinhart


Jerry Reinhart


Jerry Reinhart scores game's first run.


Deputy Andrew Mullen and K-9 "Frankie."


Charlie Szykowny

Hey kids! GC STOP-DWI Night at the Ballpark is Thursday -- gates open at 6, lots of prizes

By Press Release
Jul 9, 2021, 2:07pm

Submitted photos and press release:

Join Genesee County STOP-DWI and the Genesee County Youth Bureau for a night of family fun as they team up to host the STOP-DWI Night at the Ballpark on Thursday, July 15, gates open at 6 p.m.

The Batavia Muckdogs will take on the Jamestown Tarp Skunks.    

The first 100 youths will receive a T-shirt or Muck Bucks for purchases in the ballpark. An additional 500 giveaways and prizes will be given throughout the night.

The grand prize of a youth bike from Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle.

Fun and interactive educational booths and displays will be available for families and children to visit.

Help us cheer on Detective Matthew Wojtaszczyk (inset photo, right) as he throws the first pitch of the game. Having served with the Batavia Police Department since 2014, Detective Wojtaszczyk has provided extraordinary service to this community in his efforts to help educate the public on the effects of impaired driving and to help protect our streets from the dangers of impaired drivers.

While assigned to patrol division, he was very active in DWI enforcement, and awarded the Genesee County STOP-DWI “Top Cop Award” in 2016. In 2017, Detective Wojtaszczyk became a drug recognition expert (DRE), tasked with assisting fellow officers who are investigating individuals suspected of driving while impaired.

Detective Wojtaszczyk remains active in community outreach events, including the STOP-DWI Night at the Ballpark.

Event sponsors and contributors: GCASA, Gerace Realty, Kiwanis Club of Batavia, Marchese Computers, Police Benevolent Association, United States Gypsum Co., Batavia Lions Club, The Original Red Osier Landmark Restaurant, Western New York Association of Chiefs of Police, Polish Falcons, Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle, and Walmart.

Join us for a great night at the ballpark and remember impaired driving is completely preventable. All it takes is a little planning.

Gates open at 6 p.m. and the game starts at 7:05 p.m.

Top photo, from left: Le Roy Police Chief Greg Kellogg; Genesee County Undersheriff Bradley Mazur; Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron; Chelsea Green, with the Genesee County Youth Bureau; Tammi Ferringer, STOP-DWI coordinator; Chelsea Elliott, with the Genesee County Youth Bureau; John Roche, owner of Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle; Officer Felicia DeGroot, of the Batavia Police Department; and Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch.

Muckdogs drop two straight after impressive win at home

By Press Release
Jul 6, 2021, 3:59pm


Press release: 

After a commanding 4-0 victory on Saturday, June 3rd, in front of a large crowd against the Niagara Power, the Muckdogs went into a two-game stretch against opponents in the NYCBL. Batavia hosted the Mansfield Destroyers for the second time this season, as they lost 13-3 in a crossover matchup back on June 7th.

On Sunday, Batavia struck first, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first after a Blair Frederick RBI triple and Trevor Dean crossing home after an error by Mansfield catcher Blake Murray. Caden Walton and Frederick would both score due to a two-RBI single off the bat of third baseman Ethan Sarmiento to create a four-run lead.

Nathan Hinkley would allow his first runs on the contest in the fifth as Bryce Porter would drive in two runs to make it a 4-2 ball game. The Destroyers would tack on eight runs in the sixth inning, putting Batavia down six runs erasing their early lead.

As always, the Muckdogs like to make things interesting down the stretch, responding with two runs of their own after Mansfield added one more in the eighth and three more in the ninth. Down 11-9, Mansfield’s closer Matt Kahn shut the door getting the last three outs to secure the win.

Shifting into Monday’s action with the Syracuse Salt Cats, both teams agreed that the friendly matchup would just be seven innings due to both teams running low on pitching. Kyle O’Neill got the nod for Batavia as the Felician University right-hander tossed three scoreless innings while striking out six.

Batavia lost 1-0.

Trey Bacon entered the game in relief and allowed the only to run in the fourth as right fielder Carter Huffman hit a sacrifice fly to score Matt Rinaldi. Abner Benitez would have two of Batavia’s four hits in the game, as there were only a combined seven hits for both teams.

Even though Batavia dropped two straight, neither game will count toward their regular-season records or to their individual stats. Tuesday’s game against the Geneva Red Wings will count as it is the final night of the USA Homestand at Dwyer Stadium. Batavia currently sits at 12-14 and is tied with the Red Wings (13-15) as they are seven games back for the first place Jamestown Tarp Skunks in the West Division.

The Muckdogs will then travel to Sal Maglie Stadium in Niagara Falls in a matchup with the Power before facing the Elmira Pioneers three days in a row from Thursday to Saturday. Elmira has lost five straight games and is just one game over .500, meaning if Batavia wins against Geneva and takes two out of three against the Pios, they could be in second place.

First pitch for Tuesday night’s game is scheduled for 7:05 o'clock at Dwyer Stadium. It can be viewed on YouTube Live by subscribing to “BataviaMuckdogBaseball.” Make sure to follow our Twitter @BataviaMuckdogs, Instagram @Batavia_Muckdogs, and like our Facebook Page, “BataviaMuckdogBaseball.”

Top photo: Syracuse infielders Michael DeStefano and Eddy Garcia tracking a pop-up over the infield in the second inning.

Photos by Howard Owens.











After 17 innings pitched for Muckdogs, Parr gives up first runs against Elmira

By Howard Owens
Jun 27, 2021, 1:41pm

Press release:

The roller-coaster ride of emotions continues for the Muckdog as after they just won four out of their last five games to claw their way but to .500; they lose their second straight game. After Friday night’s nail-biting loss to the Tarp Skunks 2-1, Batavia looked to maintain the season series lead against the Elmira Pioneers on Faith and Family Night at Dwyer Stadium.

Andrew Parr got the ball to start the game, as the righty from Andrews College started the year out of the bullpen but was on the mound for his second start of the season against Elmira. Going into the game, Parr led the entire Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League with a 0.00 ERA in 17 innings pitched and was tied for first with four wins.

Elmira’s bats got rolling early as Parr allowed three hits, and first basemen Bobby Marsh drove in the first run against Parr so far this season. The Pios then got six hits off the former PGCBL Pitcher of the Week in the second inning, including an opposite-field two-run homer for Chris Erickson. Parr was yanked for Niagara University right-hander Tyler Prospero in a 6-0 ballgame with just one out in the inning.

Batavia would respond in the bottom half of the inning, scoring both Jerry Reinhart and Abner Benitez to cut the deficit to just four. The hits just continue to come in bunches for Elmira, as they had double digits in the fourth inning. The Pioneers scored three in the fourth and three more in the fifth due to a bases-clearing triple from right fielder Dom Popa.

As always, the Muckdogs did not go down without a fight, down 10 runs in the seventh pinch hitter Ethan Frasca and Luis Rodriguez both scored after RBI’s from Cameron Conley and Charlie Szykowny. Batavia would tack on two more in the eighth after Elmira responded with two runs of their own.

With a final score of 14-6, Elmira mustered up 19 total hits in an impressive showing from top to bottom of the Pioneer order. Extra hitter Gil Merod had a four-hit game with three runs scored, and Auburn catcher Jake Schorr finished with three hits and three RBIs. Cam Hill got the win on the mound, as so far on the year, Batavia was used to seeing him playing first base and batting third for the Pios, with Parr picking up the loss.

Batavia now falls to 9-12 on the year and back into fourth place as Geneva winning both games of the doubleheader against Auburn. Facing the Auburn Doubledays today will be the Muckdogs, as they play a team from the central division for the first time this year.

First pitch at Falcon Park is at 5:05 p.m.! It can be viewed on YouTube Live by subscribing to BataviaMuckdogBaseball. Make sure to follow our Twitter @BataviaMuckdogs and liking our Facebook Page, “BataviaMuckdogBaseball.”

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