Old Dawgs meet in college playoffs

Baseball: Bartnik, Gotta, Rose have pre-game chat before big game

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Friday, May 23, 2014 10:43 am

Okotoks Dawg Jerod Bartnik celebrates hitting a home run against the Lethbridge Bulls in the playoffs last year. He played against former teammate Cade Gotta in the opening round of the NAIA playoffs.
Okotoks Dawg Jerod Bartnik celebrates hitting a home run against the Lethbridge Bulls in the playoffs last year. He played against former teammate Cade Gotta in the opening round of the NAIA playoffs.
Wheel file photo

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It was a Three Dawg Night reunion at one of the biggest college baseball tournaments in North America earlier this month.

The UBC Thunderbirds Brendan Rose and Jerod Bartnik had a chat with San Diego Christian Hawk Cade Gotta prior to the teams squaring off in the opening round of the NAIA championships in Santa Clarita, California on May 12.

All three players were with last year’s Okotoks Dawgs, which went on to the Western Division finals of the WMBL.

“That was really cool,” Gotta said in an interview from California. “We caught up with what each of us was doing.

“Jerod hit a bomb in their first game (of the NAIA series) and I told him great job. Rose was also there and it was great to see them.”

It might be one of the last times Gotta will see his former teammates. He won’t be returning, but Bartnik and “Rosey” will be back in Okotoks for the summer.

Bartnik’s bomb came in the top of the eighth inning to give UBC a 1-0 victory over Vanguard in the first game of the series.

“It was a cool feeling,” Bartnik said. “The guy had been pitching really well and I happened to hit one of the few mistakes he made. I got good barrel on it and it went out.”

(The three T-Bird pitchers who combined for the shutout all have a Dawgs connection — starter Conor Lillis-White will join Okotoks this year. Relievers Sean Callegari and Matt Thornton are former Dawgs).

He met his old teammate just a few hours later.

Bartnik said it was cool to meet Gotta – there were no Milan Lucic-like exchanges.

“We had a great relationship, it was nice to see him,” Bartnik said. “It was totally professional.”

The Hawks got the upper-hand, downing the T-Birds 12-2 (Bartnik went 1 for 4, Gotta 0 for 5 with a RBI). Two days later the Hawks would end the T-Birds’ season with a 2-0 victory.

Bartnik said he had a solid year with the T-Birds.

“I started almost every game in rightfield and I thought I contributed pretty well offensively,” he said. “I’m a better player than I was last year. I have been working hard in the outfield. I went the whole year errorless and had five assists.”

The left-handed hitting Bartnik hit two home runs and 19 RBIs. He led the team in doubles with 14. He said his .245 average wasn’t indicative as to how hard he hit the ball.

He can’t wait to put the Dawgs jersey on for the third-straight season.

“Honestly, Okotoks has become my second home,” Bartnik said. “I can’t think of a better place to play for the summer.”

He wants to help bring a WMBL pennant home to his second home.

“I want to win a championship,” Bartnik said. “With some of the new guys, we have brought in, we’re going to be good.

“Personally, I don’t care what role I play, just as long as we do well.”

One guy who won’t be with the Dawgs is Gotta after his career year with the Hawks.

He hit a Ted Williams like .407, with 11 bombs and 38 RBI’s and a typo-looking .690 slugging percentage over 59 games.

He credits his 2013 summer in Okotoks for much of his success.

“I went up to Okotoks and I played every day — it was awesome,” Gotta said. “The coaching was so good and positive. Even when I went through my slump they helped me.

“Being up there made me love baseball even more.

“It was the best summer of my life.”

Gotta does have one regret. He won’t be able to join Bartnik and Rose in Big Rock country this summer because he is a senior at San Diego Christian. However, his season isn’t over yet.

The Hawks have advanced to the NAIA World Series which starts this weekend in Lewiston, Idaho.

As for Bartnik and Rose their Dawg season starts on June 1 when Okotoks takes on the Medicine Hat Mavericks in The Hat. The Dawgs home-opener is June 5 at Seaman Stadium at 7 p.m. against the Mavs.

For ticket information go to www.dawgsbaseball.ca or call 403-262-DAWG.


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