U.S. college pulls the plug on baseball scholarships

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 4:58 PM ET

It's that time of the year.

Ball players are excited, set to embark on the next stage of life's journey -- college. And then ...

"I opened up an e-mail last Sunday saying that there wasn't any scholarship money, we'd have to pay for school on our own," Mississauga outfielder Mile Pesa said. "I was so angry, I was furious."

Pesa was set to leave today for Lansing Community College in Michigan. Fellow Oakville Royals grads -- Milton shortstop Aberdeen Chan, Oakville lefty Vincent Cambruzzi and Mississauga right-hander Jose Gallardo -- all were Lansing bound until they received similar e-mails from coach Rod Sanville.

Sanville came to the Royals clubhouse in January. Players sold raffle tickets for the Lansing baseball fund. Players made visits. They signed letters of intent.

"Each family has been bent out of shape, one parent called the president, but the past week was a nightmare," said Chan, who says he is out $600 US for his residence.

Parents asked the National Junior College Athletic Association to investigate.

Cambruzzi and Pesa, both out about $500, scrambled quickly and found a home, St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley. Instead of leaving for Lansing last night, Chan is headed for Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock, N.C., when he completes his paperwork.

"The money they were supposed to get was from a private fund, there was confusion," Sanville said. "The school made scholarship offers (yesterday) to all four players. One has accepted, as far as I know the others haven't even accepted."

Cambruzzi and Pesa are staying where they are.

"They came too late with the offer," said Chan who signed for Lansing for 80-100% scholarship but will pay his way at Blue Ridge. "The Royals were good placing us."

Only Gallardo accepted the school's offer yesterday, after the assistant dean, the athletic director, the coach and admissions called all four families with apologies. His step father Bernie Richardson drives an 18 wheeler and works overtime to provide for his children.

"Our daughter Mariana plays ball they just got back Vancouver," Richardson said. "It costs $2,500 for her with the Chinguacousy Cougars and $8,000 for my son at Oakville."

Sanville said that since the economy took a turn, money from the private sources just dried up.

"Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the United States," he said.

A total of 708 Canadians attended schools south of the border last spring. Roughly the same number are headed south this fall.

What advice would they give first-time parents on the school process?

"Make sure everything is in writing and ask questions," one parent said. "Or you could fall into a pit like we did. We were so naive. Just because we signed, we thought it was official. You have to make sure it's legit."

Toughest decision ever

That is what the manager used to say all the time in Bull Durham. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston released B.J. Ryan earlier this month in St. Petersburg. It was only the second time since he took over the Jays he had to release a player. Can you guess the other?

Yet to sign

The Jays top five picks -- Chad Jenkins, James Paxton of Ladner, B.C., Newmarket's Jake Eliopouolos, Jake Barrett and Jake Marisnick -- in the June draft remain unsigned. Scouting director Jon Laldonde gave fifth-round pick LSU second baseman Ryan Schimpf, a $155,700 US signing bonus.

Trivia answer

The first player Gaston ever released was former DH Bob Brenly, shortly after taking over as manager in 1989. Brenly later managed the Arizona Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Series.

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THE BOOK ON ...

JEREMY ACCARDO -- Blue Jays pitcher

WHAT A MAJOR LEAGUE SCOUT SAYS: "This is a kid I really like. He pitched great for (manager) John Gibbons. But for whatever the reason he's not seen in the same light now. "He didn't pitch for Cito Gaston after John Gibbons was banged last year, but I like what I've seen from him this year. Plus, I thought he did a heck of a job in 2007 when B.J. Ryan went down. What did he have 29, 30 saves (30) and he only blew five? "I don't know how long the list of good trades the GM has made but this has to be right near the top. Shea Hillenbrand put them in a real bind challenging the manager and then Gibbons challenging him. They got a heck of an arm and he has plus velocity most nights."

WEAKNESS: "The batting average is high for me (opponents are hitting ,264 against him) and they're hitting almost .300 (.297) against him at home. Explain how that happens? I don't understand that either."

STRENGTHS: "He throws strikes and comes at hitters, with a fastball anywhere from 94-96 m.p.h. He can pitch for our team. Some day he will be a closer."

Season Stats

GP W L SV IP BB SO ERA

16 0 0 0 15.2 9 13 2.87

Sun Rating: 3 out of 5

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THE TOP 5

UNDEFEATED AND UNTIED

Pitchers with undefeated records against individual teams heading into the 2009 season.

1. RANDY JOHNSON

13-0 vs. Cubs

In his previous three starts vs. the Cubs, he worked 23 scoreless innings -- allowing eight hits and striking out 30.

2. JON LESTER

9-0 vs. Orioles

The Boston lefty is 6-0 in his past eight starts, working 48 innings with a 2.81 ERA.

3. ROY HALLADAY

8-0 vs. Twins

Has won his past four starts going back to 2006, allowing 28 hits with a 3.81 ERA.

4. DAVID WEATHERS

8-0 vs. Reds

The ex-Jay pitched 12/3 innings of relief for his last win over the Reds in 2001.

5. JASON SCHMIDT

8-1 vs. Marlins

The Dodgers righty returned from injury and saw his perfect record fall this week.

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NORTHERN LIGHTS

PETE LAFOREST, HULL, QUE

CATCHER, QUEBEC (IND)

Laforest hit for the cycle in a 14-5 Quebec City win over Sussex going 5-for-6, with four RBIs. The former major leaguer now playing in the independent Can-Am League had the best week of 118 Canadians in the minors and 40 in indy ball. He hit .393 with two homers and 12 RBIs.

Runners-up: Chris Robinson .545, Dorchester, Ont., triple-A Iowa (Cubs), Tyson Gillies .500, Langley, B.C., class-A High Desert (Mariners), Kyle Dhanni .500, White Rock, B.C., class-A Helena (Brewers), Joey Paciorek .417, Maple Ridge, B.C., Helena, and Scott Thorman, .304, Cambridge, triple-A Omaha (Royals).


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