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Canadians in College Baseball

Pickering’s Denzel Clarke on Fire for Cal State Northridge

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Photo: Braden Villanueva, CSUN Athletics

It’s a long way from Pickering, Ontario to the campus of Cal State Northridge (CSUN), just northwest of Los Angeles, but the CSUN baseball team is glad that Pickering, Ontario’s Denzel Clarke made that journey in 2019.

Now in his Junior season, this past weekend Clarke had seven hits, including his fifth and sixth home runs of the season, to lead the 12-15 Matadors to a four-game sweep of CSU Bakersfield, clinching the team’s first series win of the season, their first double-header sweep of the season and their first four-game sweep of the season.

Clarke finished the weekend going 7-of-12 (.583) with six RBI, four walks, three runs, two home runs and two doubles. He also stole four bases and has now hit safely in 10-straight games.

The strong weekend series is just another stellar moment in Clarke’s season thus far, as on the season, he has 32 hits, (7 doubles, 6 Homers) for a .330 batting average, has knocked in 18 runs, scored 23 runs and has an awesome 1.046 OPS.

Clarke has been a standout with CSUN since his debut as a freshman in 2019, where he was the only player to appear in all 55 games on the season, hitting 243 with 35 hits, 25 runs, 21 walks, 19 RBI, seven doubles, five home runs and two triples. He was second on the team with 12 stolen bases (on 14 attempts) and finished fourth in the Big West in sacrifice hits (10) and tied for ninth in stolen bases. His season was also notable as he hit the Matadors’ first inside-the-park home run of the 21st century and homered twice for the first time in his career vs. UC Santa Barbara (5/3/19).

In his 2020 sophomore season, Clarke competed in all 15 games, making 12 starts in center field and leading the team in runs (12), home runs (3), batting average (.400), slugging percentage (.775), on-base percentage (.529) and stolen bases (5). He finished first in the Big West in on-base percentage and slugging percentage while he ranked second in stolen bases and home runs, third in batting average, fifth in total bases (31), seventh in runs and 10th in doubles (4). He was also named to Big West All-Academic Team.

Clarke graduated from the Everest Baseball Academy in Vaughan, Ontario and was a member of the Canadian U-18 Junior National Team that won bronze at the COPABE U-18 Pan Am Championships in Panama in 2018 and that finished fourth at the 2017 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay (photo below). He was drafted by the New York Mets in the 36th round of the 2018 MLB First-Year Player Draft, but chose to stay in school, a decision that CSUN was glad he made.

Denzel Clarke playing for Canada at the WBSC U18 World Cup of Baseball at Port Arthur Stadium in Thunder Bay, Ontario in 2017 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart).

Clarke comes by his athletic talents naturally. His Mother is Donna Clarke, who competed in the women’s heptathlon at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, finishing 17th at the age of 19. His uncle, Kevin Smellie played pro football in the CFL and was a running back on the 1991 Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts and his cousin Gavin Smellie participated in the 2012 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in the 4x100m relay. His cousins Josh and Noah Naylor are also well known in baseball circles in Canada and are playing pro baseball, both in the Cleveland Indians organization.

Now in his junior year, Clarke is ranked 82nd on the top 100 draft prospects list and 12th on the top 100 outfielder list by D1 Baseball — a major jump from being taken in the 36th round just a few years ago.

With the season he is having to date, it is quite possible that Clarke could hear his name called very early in the MLB entry draft in July. Hopefully that will be the case and Clarke can join the ever-growing list of Canadians to make their way into the pro-ranks.

 

Canadians in College Baseball

23 Canadians participating in D1-D3 National JUCO World Series tournaments

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Should the Indian Hills Warriors win the Division I JUCO World Series, they will do so with the help of six Canadian players (Photo: Indian Hills Athletics)

The 2021 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) will  begin their various Division World Series Tournaments this weekend and in total, 23 Canadians will be looking to help their teams to their respective championship title.

In Division I, which will take place at Sam Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colorado, 11 Canadians will participate, including six players from Indian Hills JC in Ottumwa, Iowa (Maxime Adam, Pier-Oliver Boucher, Samuel Fortier,  Justin L’archeveque, Charles Lefebvre, and Ryan Telenko),  two players from Cowley County (Felix Chenier-Rondeau and  Oliver Laroque) and three players from Crowder College (Simon Grinberg, Adamo Stornello and Nick Tremblay).

In Division II, taking place at David Allen Memorial Ballpark in Enid, OK, three Canadians will participate including Ayden Makarus and Jackson Fraser of LSU Eunice and  Ben Hubert of Kellogg.


Finally in Division III, nine Canadians will take part, beginning Saturday at Pioneer Park in Greeneville, TN. All nine players hail from Niagara Community College in Sanborn, New York and include Andrew Bench, Cal Brazier, Chris Tani, Craig Oliver, Matt Ferris, Mike Short, Noah LaLonde, Nolan Gallo, and Will Jackman.

Congratulations and good luck to all players involved!

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Canadians in College Baseball

Jackson throwing nothing but strikes for Bellevue

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Photo: Bellevue University Athletics

Langley Blaze Product sets milestone NAIA mark with 21-strikeout performance – also named NSAA Pitcher of the Year

– Bellevue, NE – Bellvue Universty’s (NAIA) Corey Jackson is lighting up the strike zone this season for the Bruins, recently setting an NAIA-high of 21 strikeouts in a game against Waldorf on May 1, the most this season by any NAIA pitcher and the second most in Bellevue program history.

Jackson’s 21-strikeout performance marks the eighth time this season that he has struck out 10 or more batters per game and he now leads all Canadians playing US college baseball in that category, holding down the top three spots, with 21, 18 and 16 strikeouts respectively (see graphic below).

During the regular season, the 5-10. 175lb. right-handed senior has appeared in 17 games for the Bruins, earning a 9-3 record and notching 166 strikeouts in 105 innings of work, with a 2.31 ERA.

Born in Calgary, Alberta, Jackson eventually found his way to Abbotsford, BC, where he attended Yale Secondary and played for the Abbotsford Cardinals and then the Langley Blaze of the BC Premier Baseball League, where in his senior year, he pitched to a 5-0 record with a 3.10 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 27 innings of work.

Jackson’s 21-strikeout performance marked the eighth time this season he has struck out 10 or more batters per game, leading all Canadians in college baseball in that category (Source: Canadians in College Baseball, cbplayers.com).

Jackson started his college career at New Mexico Junior College and then Indian Hills Community College before moving on to UNC Greensboro for the 2018-2019 season. At Greensboro Jackson was ranked in the top five of eight major statistical categories in the Southern Conference including wins (1st-7), strikeouts (1st-70), appearances (1st-31), relief appearances (1st-31), innings pitched (3rd-57.2), strikeouts looking (3rd-23), opposing batting average (4th-.230) and earned run average (5th-4.84). He capped off his season there by ranking in the top 65 among NCAA Division I pitchers in WHIP (51st-1.04) and strikeouts per nine innings (64th-10.92).

In the shortened 2019-2020 season, Jackson Made four starts on the mound for the Bruins, pitching to a 1-2 record with a 6.52 ERA in 19.1 innings of work. He struck out a team-high 25 batters for a K/9 rate of 11.64, striking out a season-best nine batters in back-to-back starts against Siena Heights and Michigan-Dearborn. He posted a 2.84 ERA over his final three starts, striking out 24 batters in 19 innings and was named the NSAA Pitcher of the Week on Mar. 9.

Thus far in 2021, Jackson has been named the NSAA Pitcher of the Week on two occasions, has been rewarded with a first team All-NSAA selection and was recently named the NSAA Pitcher of the Year.

Opening their playoffs against Science and Arts on Monday, Jackson continued his domination, throwing a complete game 4-2 victory, giving up the two earned runs on six hits, while striking out 16 in the process.

The Bruins also defeated St. Xavier 8-3 in round one round robin action and next take on Concordia, in the hopes of eventually advancing to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho beginning May 28.

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Canadians in College Baseball

Palmegiani Leads Southern Nevada to 41-14 record, earns commitment to Arizona

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Surrey, BC native and former Junior National Team Member slugs his way to commitment with Division 1 Arizona

– Henderson, NV – The College of Southern Nevada Coyotes lost their season finale Saturday and a bid for the Scenic West regular season title to Salt Lake over the weekend, but it was not because of the play of sophomore Damiano Palmegiani (Surrey, BC) who went three-for-three on the day with two home runs and five RBI.

The big day caps an incredible season for infielder Palmegiani – a transfer to Southern Nevada from Cal State Northridge – who played in all 55 games for the Coyotes, hitting a whopping .401, with 21 home runs, 68 RBI, 13 doubles and 70 runs scored.  He leads all Canadians currently playing U.S. college baseball in home runs and is second among all Canadians in the RBI category.  He also ranks third among Canadians in OPS at 1.411.

Saturday’s two-homer day marked the fifth time this season Palmegiani has gone deep twice in a game and amazingly, the fourth time he has had a five-RBI game.

Source: Canadians in US College Baseball https://cbplayers.comCLICK IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION

Palmegiani is a product of the Abbotsford Cardinals of the BC Premier Baseball League and then Vauxhall Academy in Alberta. He also spent time with the Canadian Junior National team in 2018.

His productive output in 2021 has not gone unnoticed and he has now committed to Division 1 Arizona for his Junior and Senior seasons. He was also recently awarded the coveted Male Athlete of the Year Award at the 5th Annual Coyote Athletic Banquet.

 

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