Australia – Geelong Baycats
For the first time in tournament history the GFI is extremely proud to welcome Australia. Representing their country are the Geelong Baycats. Geelong is a city of 190,000 and is in the state of Victoria, about 75 km from Melbourne. This port city is on Corio Bay and there are few coastlines in the world that offer the breathtaking beauty that you see as you drive the Great Ocean Road. The Baycats lineup will include “Matt Ryan who signed a pro contract with Anaheim Angels in 2003. He played 3 years in the pro ranks with the Angels and Minnesota Twins minor league affiliates. He was a major factor in the Baycats run to the playoffs in 2010 before signing a contract with SV ADO in Holland.” 17 year-old pitcher Sam Gibbons is one of the best junior pitchers in Victoria. He is receiving a lot of attention from Major League scouts after an impressive performance in the National Junior Championships in April. One of two US imports on the team is from St. Joseph, Michigan. Ben Knuth has played two years in Australia and has won back-to-back MVP awards. His batting average is .417 with 75 RBIs. But he does more than hit, he also pitches. Over 118 innings his ERA is 2.90. In his college career in America he was the World Series MVP as he led his team to the National Junior College Championship. Afterwards at Grand Valley State University he batted .336 and was 7-2 as a pitcher. The team is led by Manager Nathan Holmes who attended college in the United States. His baseball career in Australia includes being captain of Team Australia at three World Junior Championships.
Thurston County Senators
The Thurston County Senators played exciting baseball at the GFI in 2010 and impressed the fans with sound fundamentals and hustle. The Senators are the flagship team of the Puget Sound Collegiate League. Their Head Coach is Scott Kelly who also serves as Commissioner of the PSCL. Scott just completed his first year as Pitching Coach at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, WA. Coach Kelly is one of the Northwest’s premier pitching coaches. He played college ball at Missouri Valley and was drafted by the San Diego Padres. After his playing career he coached at Missouri Valley College before returning to the Northwest. His resume includes a year as the pitching coach for the Kelowna Falcons.
Lewiston Paffile Truckers
The GFI and the Lewis Clark State baseball program have a long and outstanding relationship. Excellence personified when you describe the athletes from this great college who have displayed their talents at James Donaldson Park. 117 players have been drafted by major league teams including Zach Arneson and Tyler Barrett from the 2011 team. In addition Cody Fassold and Brian Gaylord were recently signed as free agents by the Kansas City Royals. Head Coach Gary Picone’s squad will include Sophomore Kyle Knigge who hit .317 as a freshman this season. Playing left field he didn’t commit one error all year. His brother Tyler who also played in Grand Forks is playing in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
Baseball Canada 2008 – Senior Men National Champions
Victoria Mavericks Baseball Association and their tournament team (the ‘Victoria Mavericks’) are pleased and excited to be part of the lineup at the 2011 GFI. Over the years in BC baseball Victoria leads all teams with 7 provincial championships. In 2008 they went on to win the Canadian Senior title in Brandon MB. One interesting indication of the great baseball history that is found in our provincial capital is the R.P. Rithet Cup. It dates back to 1922, making it the second oldest amateur trophy in Canada. The Mavericks will be out to get their hands on some GFI hardware.
San Diego Stars
This Southern California entry won GFI crowns in 2004 and 2006. At last year’s tournament the Stars made it to the semi-finals; one of their outfielders, Clifton Thomas, made the GFI All-Star team, batting .400 and contributing a number of outstanding plays in the field. In late June of this year they secured a berth in the 2011 NBC World Series in Wichita by capturing their third consecutive NBC Western Regional Championship. They breezed through the competition undefeated, outscoring the opposition 40-16. Mickey Deutschman, their affable and knowledgeable skipper, is also an associate scout for the Atlanta Braves organization.
The Studs come to Grand Forks this year as the defending champions. They placed 3 players on the tourney all-star team in 2010; infielders Riley Tompkins and Kyle Boe along with MVP JT Zink. This semi-pro baseball team traces its beginnings to 1954 and are again led by head coach Barry Aden. His overall win-loss record through the 2010 season is 714-318. This outstanding organization has had some cool mottoes over the years, including “Real Men, Real Grass” and “Once a Stud, Always a Stud.” Last season, for the second time in 3 years they finished second at the NBC World Series in Wichita. As this is written they are 15-3 in the 2011 season, seven of the wins have been shutouts.
This is the first year for the Orioles in the Pacific International League. This league has gone through a lot of changes over the last few years. After dropping to only a handful of teams the PIL now includes 10 teams, 7 of them from BC, the other 3 from Washington. Participating in a full league schedule can only strengthen Trail as they prepare for the GFI. The O’s will also be hosting the Western Canadian Senior AA Baseball Championship in late August and this will be a great warm up prior to their trip to Grand Forks. Several players on their roster have college experience including Austin Weilep, Brad Ashman, Ashton and Chris Florko.
Langley Sr. Blaze
The 2011 Langley Sr. Blaze are coming off an exciting 2010 season highlighted by capturing the Western Canadian Championship. What made this even more special was that 2010 was Langley’s expansion season. The Sr. Blaze are proud to be part of the Langley Blaze organization which has developed many of Canada’s recent brightest young prospects such as Kellin Deglan, 2010 1st round draft pick of the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays rising star Brett Lawrie, who just may be in Toronto by the end of the current season. The Blaze are extremely excited to be invited to the prestigious Grand Forks International. Their roster includes 2006 MLB draft pick Shayne Willson (Minnesota Twins), pitcher Sean Callegari who was outstanding as a freshman this season at Douglas College and former UBC star Scott Webster. Playing in his first game for Langley earlier this year he belted a grand slam in his first at bat.
The Warriors is the most decorated name in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. It is the signature of the Lewis Clark State baseball team which has dominated the NAIA college scene for several decades.
The 2003 GFI program described the program and their many appearances in Grand Forks this way, “Whether they throw, hit or run at the GFI as the Lewiston Truckers or the Idaho Warriors, fans are guaranteed to see hustle, talent and enthusiasm. It kind of ‘makes you want to play again’ yourself.”
Kamloops Sun Devils
The GFI is grateful to the Kamloops Sun Devils for accepting our invitation to the 2011 tournament. They are led by their Coach, former Major League pitcher Ray Chadwick. Ray has been the Head Coach at Thompson Rivers University since 2003. The WolfPack have won the Canadian College Baseball League championship three times under his leadership. He is an excellent recruiter and recently received a commitment from an Australian base baller, Lee Harty, to play at TRU in the upcoming season. This is the second year that the Sun Devils are playing in the Pacific International League. Their record as of July 6th is 9-8. Scott Nevison is currently Kamloops’ top hitter while Dave Andersen heads the pitching staff with an ERA of 1.80
Grand Forks Blues
The Grand Forks Blues will make their second consecutive appearance at the GFI. With more time to prepare and the experience from last year the Blues will be more relaxed and ready to take on the opposition. Local fans are invited to get behind this local home team and bring the encouragement and support which can be the key to them securing a spot in the money round. Once again Sam Ross and Tom Starchuk are the leaders behind this team which is completing its fourth year of organized ball.
Grand Forks has had a number of teams participate in the GFI. The Mets were the team of the 1970s; in fact, in 1969 the Mets won the BC Junior Championship. Early in the following decade the Grand Forks Slag Dusters carried the colours for the home town and later in the 1980s and early 90s it was the Grand Forks Gold. The Gold were certainly ‘worth their weight’ in the precious metal as they made it to the championship final in 1988 and again the following year. Another local squad, the Grand Forks Rattlers, played in 1994.
The UBC Thunderbirds, Canada’s College Team, will once again represent their country in Grand Forks. In 2011 they reached the NAIA National Championship Opening Round in Riverside CA. They lost their first game 6-5 to Concordia University (California) in the double elimination format and after winning their next game to stay alive their season then ended with a second loss. The game against Concordia was a heartbreaker as UBC held the lead into the late innings. Concordia Eagles won this opening round and went on to win their first World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. All four of the T-Birds Senior starting pitchers were drafted or signed after the season ended and are now beginning pro careers. New players on the Team Canada roster will include three players from Canada’s National Junior team.