Friday, May 11, 2007

Bowser Named to Academic All-District Team

NEW ORLEANS – University of New Orleans outfielder Brandon Bowser and second baseman Johnny Giavotella have been named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District VI team, it was announced on Thursday.

Bowser was a first-team district pick, making him eligible for the Academic All-America team, while Giavotella was a second-team selection.
Bowser, a senior out of Roaring Spring, Pa., is a mechanical engineering major and sports a 3.86 GPA. On the field, Bowser is hitting .300 with five home runs and 31 RBIs. He has started 45 games and is third on the team with 50 runs scored.

Giavotella, meanwhile, has a 3.5 GPA while majoring in accounting. He is one of the top hitters in the Sun Belt Conference, hitting .376 with 11 home runs and 52 RBIs. Earlier this season, the Jesuit graduate was named the top sophomore second baseman in the country according to Baseball America.

“There is a reason these guys are two of our three captains,” said UNO head coach Tom Walter. “They both serve as incredible leaders for this team and are about as good of representatives of the University of New Orleans as you will find.”

The duo is two of six players from the Sun Belt named to an All-District team.

To be nominated, the student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) for his career. No athlete is eligible until he has reached sophomore athletic and academic standing at his current institution (thus, true freshmen, red-shirt freshmen and ineligible transfers are not eligible).

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Altoona Curve Experience

May 5, Cinco de Mayo, was my first chance to be part of the Curve experience in 2007. It didn’t take long to realize that the game against the Akron Aeros was just a part of that experience. The Curve, winners of the 2006 John H. Johnson President’s Trophy for Minor League Baseball’s top franchise, had a full slate of activities for the 5,124 fans in attendance.

Erik Estrada, Ponch from the hit show CHiPs, made a celebrity appearance for the second straight year on Cinco de Mayo. The Curve endearingly titled the evening “Cinco de Estrada”. Estrada was the epitome of class as he spent hours last year signing autographs and having his picture taken with hundreds of fans long after the game had ended.

Estrada enthusiastically shared his views on last year’s appearance.

“It takes 15-20 seconds to sign an autograph, say hi to someone on a phone, or give a hug. Why not do that? Fifteen seconds is nothing when it can make their day. It really chaps me when celebrities complain about that.”

Next to former player Adam Hyzdu, Estrada may be one of the most appreciated celebrities to grace Blair County Ballpark.

“I think I learned that (attitude) from my grandfather helping him sell sno-cones on the streets of Harlem when I was five years old.”

The game featured a highly touted pitching match-up. The Aeros sent #22 prospect Aaron Laffey from Cumberland, MD to the mound against Yoslan Herrera. Herrera is a Cuban defector and the #4 prospect for the Pirates according to Baseball America.

The Curve also have three other top six prospects on their roster – Andrew McCutchen (#1), Neil Walker (#2), and Steven Pearce (#6). Now is definitely the time to visit Altoona. It’s rare to have this many top prospects at one level of minor league baseball and they all may not be here together for too long.

Unfortunately, the Curve fell to the Aeros 5-1 and dropped to below the .500 mark for the season, 12-13.