Birds of a different feather will take to the diamond at Rogers Centre following the Toronto Blue Jays game on Sunday, May 3.
The third annual Ontario University Athletics Baseball All-Star Showcase will pit the 2008 champion McMaster Marauders against a team of OUA all-stars. It will be McMaster’s first game since winning their first-ever baseball banner last October. After a 10-8 record during the regular season, the third-place Marauders got hot when it mattered most, sweeping two straight best-of-three series against the second place Western Mustangs (11-7) then the first place Brock Badgers (14-4) to win the title.
The Marauders are led by OUA most valuable batter and first-team all-star Chris Piccini (Mississauga). He had a .390 batting average, 21 hits and five RBI during the regular season. It was his arm, however, that proved to be most valuable during the OUA final as he allowed just one earned run on five hits, striking out nine Badgers in a 2-1 complete-game victory in the series clincher.
He was named the Wilson Canada series MVP. The Marauders brought new meaning to the baseball phrase “twin killing” as Matthew Piccini, brother of Chris, scored the game-winning run in Game 2.
Other Marauders earning OUA first-team all-star status following the regular season were first baseman John McGregor (Ottawa), outfielder Sean Lemon (Mississauga), designated hitter Ryan Hurley (Ingersoll) and relief pitcher Greg Swan (Dundas). McMaster catcher Devlin Connelly (Toronto) was named to the second team.
The Piccini twins are not the only brothers taking part in the All-Star Showcase. Chris and Mike Dahiroc (Ajax.) of the Toronto Varsity Blues are the first-ever siblings to play for the OUA All-Stars. Blues’ teammate Marek Deska (Mississauga) will also be on the roster of players from the other six OUA baseball programs. Deska was named the OUA most valuable pitcher in 2008, recording an impressive 1.11 ERA in 44 innings pitched.
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks third baseman Ryan Panas (Toronto) will participate in his first All-Star Showcase following a season which brought him OUA rookie of the year honours. Panas had a .300 batting average, 17 hits, four RBI and a .915 fielding percentage.
Mike Glinka (Manheim) of the Waterloo Warriors took part in the 2008 World University Baseball Championship in the Czech Republic last July and will play shortstop for the OUA All-Stars.
Brian MacDonald (Markham), an outfielder with the Golden Hawks, will be working a doubleheader at Rogers Centre on May 3. As a member of the Blue Jays grounds crew, he will prepare the field for the big leaguers prior to taking the field himself with the OUA All-Stars.
The OUA All-Stars have never tasted victory over the defending OUA champions in the two previous games. The All-Stars tied the Western Mustangs 5-5 in the inaugural game in 2007 while dropping a 7-5 decision to the Mustangs last year.
Local players on the all-star roster include Hamilton outfielder Tim Sogan (Brock); Oakville outfielder Matt Bekar (Western); Welland left-handed pitcher Jason Emers (Brock); Paris catcher Chris Pittaway (Wilfrid Laurier); and Oakville outfielder Andrew Salmon (Western).
The OUA Baseball All-Star Showcase will take place following the Toronto Blue Jays game against the Baltimore Orioles which begins at 1:07 p.m. Fans can enter Rogers Centre through Gate 8 free of charge following the Blue Jays game (approximately 5 p.m.), or purchase tickets to both by visiting bluejays.com.