Category: Featured

In search of Mr. Baseball

We have seen several individuals stand out in our League over the years, whether through their talent, dedication, passion, sportsmanship, longevity, or any combination thereof. As we await the start of the 2021 season we will feature one individual who has demonstrated all the passion for the game in its purest form. Many have played with him while many more may have played against him.

Several League players can recognize Joe Forget, perhaps in part for his 6 foot 3 frame. In 2020, despite a Covid-shortened season, Joe managed to be in the lineup for 81 games in 102 days with various teams. In addition to those played with the Braves in the Lakeshore Senior Baseball League Joe was in the lineup with a few other teams in other leagues, including the Giants in the B Conference of West Island Senior Baseball. Going back to 2019 Joe played 100 games, and another 96 in 2018. An astounding 277 games in three seasons and about 1000 at bats for the friendly giant are almost unimaginable numbers for any recreational player.

Joe began playing in the LSBL with the Cubs in 2016 during their inaugural season in the Robinson Division, but also called up with the Smokestacks that same summer. The following year Joe moved up a division with the newly promoted Smokestacks, helping the former Robinson team become a contender in the Gilmore Division in 2018. That same season he was also a call-up for the top division Orioles which he joined eventually in 2019 as a regular roster player and enjoyed a Playoff Championship.

In 2020 Joe competed with the Braves, a team that jumped to the Clemente Division during the Covid summer and finished a strong second in the regular season while making the finals in the playoffs. Joe plays mostly catcher but can be seen at the hot corner in some games.

In his youth Joe began playing for the LaSalle Peewee Cards, but stopped after his 13th birthday to return only 11 years later in senior baseball. Talking baseball with Joe is like discussing food with a chef. Here are a few questions he was asked about the game:

Q: Do you have any baseball idols, current or past ?

A: Gary Carter for what he represented in Montreal, his smile, his passion, and his talent. Tony Gwynn for his meticulous analysis of pitchers, his game preparation, and his .394 batting avg in 1994. Pudge Rodriguez for his durability and longevity in the majors as a catcher. Cal Ripken for his record of 2632 games played. Ricky Henderson and Tim Raines for their speed and the show they would put on stealing bases.

Q: What is it you like so much about catching ?

A: It forces me to be 100% focused, while allowing me to control the pace of the game. I enjoy having a game plan to face opposing batters and calling pitches as part of the strategy.

Joe’s passion and dedication for the game is not only limited to playing but also in practising his skills, particularly as a catcher. Joe got to work almost as early as major leaguers when he put on his gear on February 28 despite a white blanket of packed snow still prevailing everywhere.

For all these things Joe, you are our prime candidate for the title of Mr Baseball !

Around the Parks – Pre-season 2021

The Lakeshore Senior Baseball League held its first ever virtual meeting on Saturday February 27 with 17 teams represented. Several managers who were unable to compete last year with their squad are now eager to rejoin the League and this bodes well for a return to a three division format in 2021. Will the teams that played in 2020 show any significant advantage over those that did not ? Some will say that playing the game of baseball is somewhat like riding a bike. Time will tell.

A few rule changes were discussed and debated, eventually leading to a near unanimous consensus to adopt the changes this season. Among these, the base stealing limit has been raised to a 10 run lead, but it will also come with an automatic out should a base-runner steal with at least a 10 run lead. Regular season games will have a limit of 3 hit batters by a pitcher before he/she is removed, but this rule will be lifted for all divisions in the playoffs. Call-up rules have also been enhanced to not only give teams more options in fielding a team, but also to promote intra-league cooperation.

At this point we are closely monitoring announcements from Quebec as well as municipal authorities to finalize a schedule for the season. Meanwhile we have been at work revamping the web site for a fresh new look in 2021. On another positive note, municipal maintenance crews appear to be planning their work on both fields, which should correct some of the issues we have seen in recent seasons.

Since mid-March ganders of geese (not the ones managed by Chandler) have been seen flying overhead returning from the South, and this certainly adds to the optimism of seeing an early spring.

Which prompted a few die-hard league players to gather in a parking lot to get some early practice.

Around the Parks

Playoffs

In a division where all four teams were separated by less than 2 games it was going to be anyone’s call on the outcome. The Bombers met the Cardinals in the first of the Robinson semi finals and prevailed, with yet again a flurry of hits as they had done in the second half of the season. The other Robinson series featured the Cubs, coming off their best season ever, and Dodgers who in 2019 were runner up in the season and playoffs. After a decisive first game going to the Dodgers, game 2 was a close game in which the Cubs tried to even things out. Ultimately the Dodgers played sharp defence and their pitching strength came through in a 6-3 victory. In the finals, the Dodgers would host the Bombers in game 1. In a match that went back and forth along with some playoff flavoured chirping the teams found themselves playing extra innings. After an easy three up and three down top of the 8th, the Dodgers were at bat in the bottom of the inning and scored on a 2 out ground ball that was thrown home instead of at first. Game 2 featured again a game in which momentum shifted a few times. The Dodgers managed to hold off the Bombers’ big bats and built a 3 run lead late in the game, but a 3rd hit batter forced the young starter Anthony Porporino off the mound. This was a crucial momentum shift and the Bombers managed a dramatic comeback to push the series to the limit. 48 hours later on a beautiful but cool evening at Benevoles the biggest game of the season was awaited by the biggest crowd since Bill Lee dropped by in July 2019. Stands on both sides of the field were nearly filled to capacity, with several more catching the action standing behind the plate and along the fences. Dodgers ace and league leader in strike outs, Anthony Porporino, started on 2 days rest while the Bombers sent their pitching workhorse Tristan D’Silva to the mound. Two young pitchers, two different styles, but a common objective and both looked cool doing what they did best for their team all season. The teams exchanged a few runs early on but managed to stay away from the big inning. The Bombers were ahead 4-3 after 4 innings and whispers were already heard about potential extra innings. Things began unfolding in the 5th as the Bombers scored 4 runs on a couple of hits and miscues. The Dodgers retaliated promptly in the bottom of the inning with 3 of their own but the 4th run was thrown out at home on a strong throw from centre field. The Dodgers scored a run to make it 8-7 in the bottom of the 6th, but the Bombers again opened the gap in the top of the 7th with 4 more runs and a 12-7 lead. The Dodgers did get to Tyler Havlena in the bottom of the 7th, but not enough to overcome the deficit, and the Bombers won their first championship in their 3rd year at LSB.

The Clemente Divisional playoffs began with the Geese and Braves enjoying a by in virtue of their finish as first and second during the regular season. The 3rd place Orioles met the Padres in one of the series, with two very different styles facing each other. The Orioles’ sharp defence and pitching was facing an offensive line-up that could erupt at any time, and it certainly did early in the encounter. The Padres jumped all over the O’s for a 7-0 lead. The Orioles slowly nibbled away at the lead and tied the score in the 5th. The visiting Padres were not done offensively however and went ahead 11-9, headed to the bottom of the 7th and a potential first game upset. But once again, the Orioles poked away and scored 3 to take game one after nearly 3 hours of battle. Game two began the same way the first one ended, with a bunch or runs. After 4 innings the Padres held a 7-6 lead, and were hopeful to force a third game. The next two innings resulted in a flurry of runs, and at the end the Padres left the tying runs on base for a 15-13 Orioles win.

The other match up had the Royals and House of David, with game 1 resulting in a pitching dual. D. Golfman scattered 5 hits for a 5-2 win over J Solomon. With HoD declaring forfeit for game 2 the series went ahead to a decisive rubber match on a cool and damp evening. A battle of lefties between Solomon and Dusseault resulted in a few lead changes, until the Royals trailing 7-6 faced closer V. Rizzolo in the 7th and scraped a couple of runs after which they held on for an 8-7 victory and a meeting with the Geese.

With more than a week off, the Geese sent Kyle Hazel to the mound in game 1 against D Panasuk for the Royals who took a hard line drive in the stomach in the first inning but still managed to stick around for a complete game. The Geese won the game 6-0 outhitting the Royals 8-1. Game 2 was a similar outcome in which the Royals did come up with fine defensive plays, but a 3 run home run by M. Majeur to left center field was all the Geese needed. The game featured 58 year old Garry Vertolli getting one of the Royals 3 hits and making a stellar defensive play at second. The other semi also turned out to be a 2 game affair with the Braves prevailing over the Orioles. J. Sangiovanni was in fine form for game 1 helping his team to a 7-2 victory. Justin Lyman was also very sharp in game 2, with the Braves playing small ball while taking advantage a few miscues on defence for an 8-2 win and a trip to the final.

Game 1 of the Clemente Division Final on Sunday September 20 saw J Sangiovanni facing E Lalonde. The Braves were the only team to defeat the Geese during the regular season, and a win in game 1 would not exactly qualify as an upset. The Geese used their speed early on to put pressure on the Braves defence and by the top of the 5th inning led 11-0. The Braves came to bat facing a potential mercy situation, but managed to do something that had only happened once this season, that is to score 5 runs against the Geese in an inning and making it an 11-5 game. Each team exchanged a run in their next at bats, but in the bottom of the 6th the Geese put 4 more on the board and walked away with a 16-6 victory. Game two on September 22 coincided with Provincial authorities declaring a “Code Orange” in the greater Montreal area. Justin Lyman who put together a fine season as a starter faced M Majeur who 6 days earlier sent the Royals packing on a 3 hitter. The Geese scraped a few runs early but the Braves made key plays on defence to stay within striking distance after 4 innings, with a 4-1 Geese lead. The fifth and sixth innings saw the Geese adjusting their swings and putting a bunch of runs on the board, with the game ending 11-1 for the new Clemente Division champions.

Around the Parks

According to Environment Canada August 2020 was the second wettest in history, with 178 mm of rain vs 98 on average. This curve ball thrown by mother nature had to be dealt with at LSB to ensure the regular season would be completed on time. On several occasions some dedicated volunteers could be seen pumping water off the fields and prepping the diamond for evening games.

The final two weeks provided some exciting games, many of which had an impact on the final standings and consequently on the playoffs.

The Robinson Division turned into a 4 team race as the Bombers suddenly got hot in the second half while the Cubs put together their best season ever. Both teams finished tied but the Cubs are awarded 3rd place in virtue of the first tie-breaker which is runs against. In the season finale the Cubs and Bombers played a marathon game that ended 17-17.

Meanwhile the Cardinals who entered the League this year with several inexperienced players held on to first place in front of the Dodgers by one game. The Dodgers, despite finishing second, had the best run differential in the division and will be facing the Cubs in the first round. The other semi-final will feature the best defence, the Cards, vs the best offence, the Bombers. The four teams finished the regular season within 1 1/2 games of one another making it the tightest finish in years.

The Clemente Division was not nearly as tight but some interesting races emerged.

While the Geese maintained first place all season long, the Braves made a move early on and eventually took hold of the second spot in the division. This gives the Braves a by as they will await the winner of the Orioles – Padres series. These two teams feature very different styles, as the Orioles rely on pitching depth and defence, while the Padres have an offensive lineup that can explode at any time. House of David finished fourth with some momentum late in the season. The division has come to realize that their outfield can cover more real estate than Remax, with powerful arms worthy of the Clemente name. The Royals will be meeting them in the first round and are hopeful to cause an upset with their young pitchers. The winner of this series will be facing a huge challenge in meeting the Geese in the semis, but anything can happen.

Rising Stars

In the Robinson Division

Over the years our league has seen young talent develop within our ranks and this has often led to their team’s success. Some very talented players began playing in the Robinson Division, many of which are still active and playing in a higher division. This season’s four teams in the Robinson Division have shown this trend to be doing quite well as we take a closer look at some emerging talent.

Anthony Porporino: Dodgers, Pitcher, Infielder

Anthony joined our league in 2019 having played his youth baseball in LaSalle. He was immediately noticed as the ace of the staff, leading the team in innings pitched and strike outs, while maintaining a respectable WHIP of 1.98. Anthony also contributed offensively with blazing speed on the bases. This summer’s numbers are even more impressive for Anthony. He leads all pitchers at LSB in strike outs, and has lowered his WHIP below 1.70. His offensive numbers are also at the top of his group, with a batting average around .500. Anthony plays in the league with his father and two brothers. When he is not playing baseball Anthony is likely to be playing the guitar with his band.

Tristan D’Silva: Jager Bombers, Pitcher, Infielder

Tristan surprisingly never played organized baseball before 2018 when the Jager Bombers joined LSB. His first season’s batting stats were quite respectable finishing with a .370 batting average. As the season evolved he was given a few opportunities to begin pitching, but no one would have guessed that he would become the ace of the staff in 2020. Although Tristan never played organized baseball before joining with the Bombers in 2018 his father Errol was a fine minor league prospect who attended an Expos spring training camp in Florida in the late 70’s. Tristan is the Bombers’ #1 pitcher in 2020 and he is also known as the young man with the rubber arm. On August 23 Tristan pitched in both ends of a double header, and followed that with a complete game win 48 hours later. The slender young man throws a rainbow that many batters cannot adjust well to, and he will sneak in a descent fastball for the kill.

Jesse LoPriore: Cardinals, Pitcher, Inf, OF.

Jesse’s polished baseball style had us inquire about his previous experience, and yet he only played until his bantam years. In 2019 he joined the Dodgers as a spare, and barely qualified for the playoffs. In his limited play he did look comfortable at bat, but not on the mound. 2020 with the Cards is a whole different story, as Jesse shares the pitching load with coach Andrew. Jesse’s strike out to walk ratio is nothing short of impressive, and his WHIP is below 1.50. His eye at the plate is also worth mentioning, with one of the lowest strike out per at bats ratio in the league, and an on base average above .500. Jesse is a big part of the expansion Cardinals’ success this season.

Louis Deschamps: Cubs, Infielder, Pitcher

Louis is LSB’s home grown talent, having played his youth baseball at Lakeshore until his last Midget year. After being out of the game for two full summers Louis joined the Cubs in early August and he immediately made an impact helping them go 4-1 in the weeks following his return. Louis has given the Cubs’s pitching staff some well needed support as a reliever and starter. He has also contributed at bat hitting for average along with an on base above 500. He has all the tools to succeed in the league and help the Cubs become a contender in the division.

Around the Parks

The summer of 2020 will be remembered for being very hot and humid with unstable air masses. The fourth week at LSB began under those conditions on Monday August 10, but mother nature turned kind on that evening allowing both games to be played. The Royals and Padres squared off on their second meeting in three days at Meades. Solomon faced Stevens and both pitchers started effectively. The Royals built an 8-3 lead which eroded to 8-7 by the time the 7th inning began. In the top M. Stojda helped his own cause scoring an insurance run and then closing the game in the bottom of the inning. Over at Benevoles the Cubs squared off with the Dodgers. The Cubs prevailed 16-10 with clutch hitting and three pitchers combining for the victory. New comers T DiTuri and L Deschamps had hot bats for the Cubs as they took their record to .500.

On Wednesday August 12 the lone game at Benevoles had the Geese vs House of David who called Reed Gilmore to take the mound. Reed was pitching for the first time in nearly a year and managed to keep his team in the game, exiting after 4 innings with a tied score at 5. But, as we have seen earlier this season, the Geese turned it on in the last 3 innings scoring 10 for a 15-5 win. The Braves hosted the Orioles on Thursday looking to stay within striking distance of first place of at least a by for the first round of playoffs. J. Sangiovanni scattered 8 hits while walking none over 6 innings for the win and a key victory for the Braves. In the loss veteran Tyler Lowe went 3 for 3.

The weekend matches began on Saturday Aug 15 with the Geese hosting the Padres. The Geese had everything going that day and prevailed 10-0. The following game featured the Braves @ Royals with J. Lyman getting another start against Dave Panasuk who was taking the mound for the first time in 2020. The game featured some great defensive plays on both sides and an exciting finish with the Braves scoring 2 runs in the top of the 7th to take a 7-6 lead which they held on to.

The first Sunday game saw an 8-8 tie between the Royals and House of David. J Solomon had a no-hitter after 4 innings but HoD nibbled away and exploded for 6 in the 7th for the draw. J Larson and A. Ciccia had base clearing triples for the Royals, while V Rizzolo did the same for HoD. The Cardinals and Dodgers played immediately after in a game that could impact first place. The Cardinals once again found ways to score with few hits edging the Dodgers 9-8 staging yet another late come back. Coach Andrew took the win over his Anthony who did record another 8 k’s to lead all pitchers in that category. The Cubs and Bombers closed out the evening and weekend at Meades. Despite being out hit 15-9 the Cubs took advantage of a few miscues and used their speed to prevail 12-9.

The Orioles and Padres squared off to start the week on Monday evening at Meades. C Stephens started against M. Ruiz and both of them looked effective early on. D. Cox hit a long homerun to center field which gave the Padres the lead. Pedro Caviedes responded with a line drive shot into the parking lot beyond right field to reclaim the lead for the Orioles. With the Orioles leading 10-8 and the Padres putting the tying run on base in the 7th Finnbar Sandy came in to pitch and saved the win. Over at Benevoles the Cubs were hoping to make it 4 wins in a row but it wasn’t meant to be. The Cardinals behind great pitching from J Lopriore won 9-4.

The Bombers and Dodgers met on Tuesday Aug. 18 in a match that followed a chaotic end to the previous encounter. Both teams had their hitting shoes on in a game that saw the Dodgers opening an 11-6 lead by the 5th inning. The Bombers came back late to tie the score at 11, and suddenly the game

was coming down to the 7th inning for a decision. The Bombers threatened in the top of the inning with base runners on but Dodgers ace Anthony Porporino came on in relief to put out the fire. In the bottom of the inning the Dodgers had the bases loaded with 2 outs and a hit batter forced in the winning run for a 12-11 final.

The Padres played the Geese on Wednesday hoping for an upset after a couple of one sided matched. M Lalonde started for the Padres and induced many Geese batters to hit ground balls for routine outs. Meanwhile K Hazel had a blazing fastball but the Padres managed 8 hits against him. With a few lead changes and a well played, fast paced game the Geese scored the go ahead run in the 6th and held on for a 4-3 win. The Royals and Braves met for the 3rd time this summer in another close game. Both starters went 5 respectable innings after which the Braves scored 3 in the bottom of the 6th. J Sangiovanni came on the close the door and give the Braves a season sweep of the Braves.

The early Saturday game had the Dodgers @ Cubs. The Dodgers built an 8-4 lead heading into the bottom of the 7th, when they could not get the 3rd and final out. The Cubs scored 5 runs to steal the game and place themselves again in contention for the division title in the Robinson Division. Over at Benevoles HoD caught the Orioles flat footed and short several regulars on their way to a 13-3 victory in which they got 15 hits.

The weekend closed out with wet weather that threatened the 3 games scheduled on Sunday Aug. 23. After some extra work to drain puddles from the infields we heard the magical “Play Ball”. The Bombers and Cardinals played a rare double header at Meades. In the early game the Bombers earned their first victory behind T D’Silva’s pitching and a home run by T Havlena. In the night cap the Cardinals bounced back with strong pitching from Jesse Lopriore for a 12-2 win. The win also maintains the Cards in 1st place by a full game over the Dodgers and Cubs. Meanwhile at Benevoles the young Royals were visiting the Orioles for the 3rd and last time this season. J Solomon faced M Jimenez, another lefty getting his first start. Both pitchers breezed along surrendering very few hits. The Royals combined a couple of singles and a hit batter to score their 2 runs. J Solomon pitched a couplete game, striking out 11 and giving up only 2 hits for a 2-1 victory