Brent Lavallee is in his third season as Head Coach of the LSU Shreveport Pilots. The Pilots won the Red River Athletic Conference regular season championship last season. Lavalee was named RRAC Coach of the Year in 2017.
Bob Broughton, courtesyrunner.com: You played four seasons at LSU Shreveport, and went on to become assistant coach and then head coach there. How did you get from North Delta, British Columbia to Shreveport?
Brent Lavallee, LSU Shreveport: Pretty much, I got lucky. It is not easy for a Canadian to get into a good American college program. A former LSUS player (Aaron McRae) was back in town getting ready to go to Spring training with the Detroit Tigers. He had played his Senior season at LSUS in 2003, leading them to a World Series appearance. He was back home training with our high school team and noticed I had some decent defensive skills and he made a call to the Head Coach at LSUS, Rocke Musgraves. Coach Rocke took his word and spoke with my high school coach, Ari Mellios - who had a reputation of making great catchers, and they gave me a little scholarship money and an opportunity to play as a Freshman, and the rest is history. I owe a lot to my parents, my high school coaches and to Aaron McRae and Coach Rocke Musgraves for giving me that opportunity. There was a lot of hard work on my behalf - I was a hockey player who played baseball in the Summer, but there was a much better chance to get an education playing baseball and I am glad I made that decision.
BB: The Pilots have usually had at least one Canadian on the roster, and this year, you have four of them. What is is about LSUS that attracts them?
BL: I think there are many things that attract Canadian student-athletes to LSUS. We have great weather and terrific facilities, especially compared to most Canadian high school programs. The cost of tuition is very affordable, even with the exchange rate on the Canadian dollar being pretty high. Also, the comfort level of having a Canadian on the coaching staff is a bit of an attraction to the families, just knowing that there is someone who knows what the international students are going through and what to do if something were to go wrong. A lot of it is networking. We don't get the chance to see many of the Canadians that end up here; we go off of recommendations from people and we trust them and hope that they know the talent level that we try to bring in. I find myself sometimes being harder on recruiting Canadians because I don't want to bring a kid 3,000 miles to sit the bench. We want them to be contributors, especially if they are coming from so far and paying that amount of money.
Mike White is the Head Baseball Coach and Athletic Director of the Bluefield College Rams. The Rams compete in the Appalachian Athletic Conference. Their record was 28-23 last season, 8-18 in conference play. This interview took place on October 7, 2018.
Bob Broughton, courtesyrunner.com: I'll start out asking you a couple of questions in your capacity as Athletic Director. It looks like there last been quite a bit of growth in athletics at Bluefield in recent years. You started football in 2012, right?
Mike White: Yes.
BB: So, what's the base of support for Bluefield, what's your fan base, where does the money come from?
MW: Well, for football, in Southwest Virginia and Southern West Virginia, there is a huge football draw. If you go to a Friday night game in Mitchell Stadium, where we play our home games, there will be crowd of anywhere from 12 to 15 thousand. Football is a huge part of the community in Southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia, so it only makes sense for us to go ahead and bring it back. We had it in the early 40's, before World War II.
BB: I was going to mention, sports at Bluefield College seem to go back a long ways.
MW: Football disbanded for World War II. In 2012, we brought it back. It made sense. It was the right time to come back. The community support has been awesome, and athletics at the college has grown exponentially over the last couple of years, especially.
The Tigres de Quintana Roo (Cancun) (16-26) defeated the Bravos de León (20-20) 12-4 at Estadio Domingo Santana in León on August 19. The win competed a series sweep for the Tigres, and the Bravos have lost four straight.
RF Ruben Sosa had a big day for the Tigres: 4-for-5 with three doubles, an RBI (on a sacrifice fly) and a run scored.
The Tigres started with two cheap runs in the top of the first. Sosa led off with a double, but the ball got from the outfield to second base well before Sosa did. However, the second baseman mussed the tag. Sosa then went to third when the Bravos failed to complete a double play. He then scored on a passed ball. Bravos starter LHP Carlos Teller then walked the next two batters, loading the bases. The next batter, C Francisco Cordoba, hit a ground ball to third base, and the third baseman threw to second for the force out. The call on the field was out at second, but the called was reviewed and overturned, allowing a run to score.
The Tigres got a double play in the bottom of the first, but with the bases empty, RF Quincy Latimore hit a double (Sosa just missed a sliding catch on the right field line) and scored on a single by CF Cedric Hunter.
The Bravos de León (17-11) defeated the Olmecas (Olmecs) de Tabasco (11-18) 12-2 at Estadio Domingo Santana in León on August 5. The Bravos are in first place in the South Division of the Mexican League.
The Bravos were firing on all cylinders. Five pitchers held the Olmecas to five hits, all of them off starter RHP Rogelio Martinez. Defensively, they were charged with three errors, but that’s misleading. One of the errors probably should have scored a hit instead, and the Bravos made a lot of good defensive plays, especially by SS Marco Jaime (Phoenix, AZ).
Martinez was shaky the first three innings. He gave up the first run on the game in the top of the third. The Olmecas loaded the bases with one out on a walk, an error, and another walk. The second out of the came on a ground ball to third resulting in a force out at home. The next batter, 2B Anderson Hernandez, took the count to 3-2. He fouled off a couple of pitches, then took ball four to get the RBI. The following batter, LF Daniel Carbonell, also took the count to 3-2, but this time, Martinez blew strike three by him, and the inning ended with the bases loaded. Martinez then settled in, recording three strikeouts over the next 2 1/3 innings, and got the win. He was helped by a good defensive play by RF Quincy Latimore in the top of the fifth. He caught a fly ball in foul territory, then made a good throw to first base that initially looked like a double play, but the runner on first (why was he off the bag when the batted ball was clearly foul?) was ruled safe. Two more good catches, by 3B Luis Medina and Latimore, became the second and third outs.
The Bravos de León (10-6) defeated the Algodoneros (Cotton Farmers) de Unión Laguna (7-11) 10-8 at Estadio Domingo Santana in León on July 22. This was the Bravos' sixth straight win, and they are in first place in the South Division of the Mexican League.
The game was scoreless for the first three innings, with the Bravos getting a double play in the top of the third inning, and leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the third. The shutout ended with an RBI single by 3B Eudor Garcia in the top of the fourth, and his single loaded the bases with nobody out. Bravos starter RHP Eder Llamas struck out the next batter, and the following batter hit a ground ball that resulted in a force out at home. Llamas was relieved by RHP Marco Quevedo, and he was greeted by a grand slam home run by CF Jonathan Jones. The Algodoneros added another run in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by C Daniel Mercado. They led 6-0 going into the bottom of the sixth, and it looked like the Bravos' winning streak was coming to an end.
Players from NAIA schools taken in the 2018 Major league Baseball draft:
|C||Elih Marrero||Saint Thomas||8||250||Red Sox||story|
|RHS||Ben Madison||Central Baptist||9||256||Giants||story|
|RHS||Shawn Dubin||Georgetown C.||13||402||Astros||story|
|C||Lane Milligan||Oklahoma City||17||520||Red Sox||story|
|RHR||Eddie Jimenez||Southeastern||18||550||Red Sox|
|RHR||Angel Reyes||Science and Arts of Oklahoma||19||555||Tigers||story|
|RHS||Stephen Yancey||Texas Wesleyan||20||600||Rays|
|3B||Mitch Robinson||British Columbia||21||637||Yankees||story|
|RHP||Gage Burland||Lewis-Clark State||22||656||Blue Jays||story|
|OF||Preston White||The Master's||24||706||Giants||story|
|RHP||Miguel Figueroa||Oklahoma City||24||732||Astros|
|RHS||Kris Jackson||Corban||28||850||Red Sox||story|
|C||Nelson Mompierre||Saint Thomas||29||860||Mets|
|LHP||Andrew Shaps||William Jessup||31||944||Dodgers||story|
|LF||Matthew Jarecki||Benedictine (KS)||37||1095||Tigers|
|RHS||Bobby Milacki||Arizona Christian||38||1151||Nationals|
|RHP||Cole Uvila||Georgia Gwinnett||40||1199||Rangers|
|RF||Andrew Warner||Columbia C.||40||1203||Cardinals|
The Leones de Yucatán (Mérida) (40-17, first place in South Division) defeated the Bravos de León (27-29, fourth place in the South Division) 6-4 at Estadio Domingo Santana in León on June 3. The win gives the Leones a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven first round playoff series.
This game was almost all Leones until the eighth inning. They jumped on Bravos starter RHP Dustin Crenshaw for two runs in the top of the first inning. CF Ruben Sosa led off with a single, then stole second base. (The Leones stole three of them.) He scored on a double by DH Luis Juarez, and Juarez scored on a double by LF Jesus Valdez. They added two more runs in the third on a home run by 1B Art Charles Jr. The Bravos originally thought they got out of the third with a double play, but the call at first base was reviewed and reversed; RF Leo Heras was safe at first. However, he was then caught stealing to end the inning.
Crenshaw made one of the better defensive plays of the game in the top of the fourth, when he caught a hard-hit line drive by SS Everth Cabrera. The shutout ended in the bottom of the fourth when 2B Niko Vasquez hit an RBI single. However, CF Junior Lake, who reached on a double, also tried to score on the play, and was out on a close play at home, on a throw from Heras.
Schedule for the first two days of the 62nd NAIA Baseball National Championship, Friday-Saturday, May 25-June 1, Harris Field, Lewiston, ID (all times PDT):
8:30 AM: #8 seed Antelope Valley (44-12-1) vs. #9 Reinhardt (41-18)
Antelope Valley (Lancaster, CA) is making their first appearance at the Baseball National Championship, in only the third season of their program. They won both the regular season and tournament championships of the California Pacific Conference.
Rankings: #17 in coaches' poll, #29 in ISR. Strength of Schedule: #93
Quality wins: 2-2 vs. Lewis-Clark State, Middle Georgia State, 2-1 vs. William Jessup
Top position players: IF Michael Pereznegron (.398), IF Tyler Pittmon (.376, 9 HR, 64 RBI), OF Adam Maciel (.410, 57 RBI), C/1B Nathaniel Broaddus (.318, 8 HR, 42 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Clayton Rabiej (11-0, 3.28 ERA, 93 K), RHP Jacob Castillo (11-0, 4.75 ERA), RHP Jesse Garcia (7-4, 5.30 ERA, 77 K), LHP Chris Gutierrez (3-0, 2.61 ERA)
Coach: Jacob Garsez, third season
Outlook: The Pioneers should win this one, but if they do, Saturday night's game against Faulkner will be a challenge.
Reinhardt (Waleska, GA) is one of five teams making their first appearance at the Baseball National Championship. The Eagles and Freed-Hardeman are tied for fourth in the NAIA in team fielding, with a .971 average.
Rankings: Unranked in coaches' poll, #14 in ISR. Strength of Schedule: #24
Quality wins: 1-1 vs. Middle Georgia State, 2-1 vs. Campbellsville
Top position players: OF Kaleb Swayze (.356, 10 HR, 45 RBI), 1B Sherman Graves (.316, 10 HR, 55 RBI), IF Jacob Cagle (.256, 12 HR, 49 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Heriberto Casasola (Panama City, Panama; 6-2, 2.25 ERA, 48 K), RHP Dylan Powers (11-3, 2.62 ERA), 80 K), RHP Jason Gifford (9-3, 3.32 ERA, 85 K)
Coach: John Harris, first season
Outlook: The Eagles are happy to be here.
The Piratas de Campeche (15-23) defeated the Bravos de León (22-17) 8-3 at Estadio Domingo Santana in León on May 6. The loss ended an 11-game winning streak for the Bravos.
Bravos starter Alejandro Soto struck out the first two batters he faced, and was one strike short of striking out the side. Instead, DH Olmo Rosario hit one over the left field fence. The next batter, 2B Henry Alejandro Rodriguez, hit a double, and scored on a single by Jovan Rosa. The Bravos got a run in the bottom of the first when LF Felix Pie scored when DH Quincy Latimore reached on a fielder's choice. The Bravos got two more on a single by RF Cedric Hunter, and led 3-2 after one inning.
The Bravos didn't score again. The closest they came was in the bottom of the fifth, when CF Junior Lake drew a walk with two out, then stole second base. However, the inning ended with Latimore striking out.
The Saraperos (Serape Makers) de Saltillo (5-10) defeated the Bravos de León (6-9) 6-3 at Estadio Domingo Santana in León on April 8.
The Bravos started the scoring in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI double by 1B Brandon Macias; the Saraperos’ third baseman, Christian Zazueta, got a piece of the ball, but it deflected into left field. The Saraperos answered with two runs in the top of the third on an RBI single by LF Jose Manuel Orozco followed by a sacrifice fly by RF Rainel Rosario. The Saraperos got the rest of the runs they needed in the top of the fourth; an RBI single by C Jibran Castro, and a two-run home run by Steve Carrillo for the winning run.
The Bravos got their second run of the game on a home run by LF Felix Pie in the bottom of the fifth. Christian Zazueta hit an RBI double in the top of the eighth, and CF Junior Lake, who reached base when he was hit by a pitch, completed the scoring by coming home on a sacrifice fly by RF Cedric Hunter in the bottom of the eighth.