Las Vegas Trip - Blog by Chris Ewanik

Hello to all fans of PBA baseball. My name is Chris Ewanik, and I will be keeping you up to date with the weekly actions of PBA players. 2018 will be my 3rd year in the program and also my second and final year on the varsity team. I am a third-year student at the University of Lethbridge majoring in Kinesiology. For the course of the season, I will provide insight into the players lives on the road. PBA has a heavy travel schedule with trips to Las Vegas, Walla Walla Washington, and Kelowna. Each weekend provides an opportunity to bond as a team and enjoy each others company. 


My goal is to try and keep all readers entertained with the week to week antics of young dumb and win-hungry college baseball players. This years season started at 5:30 am on February 13th in the Dave Elton ball field parking lot. Passports, ball gloves, and bats packed we were on the road again. The twelve-hour drive to Salt Lake City was full of energy and excitement knowing that it brought with it another season of PBA baseball. With our trusty driver, Ian at the helm of the bus players would find ways to entertain themselves. Some players listen to music, text girlfriends, read or test their luck at a few games of poker held at the back of the bus. Sophomore pitcher Scotty G was hiding aces up his sleeves for the duration of the trip, after placing top 2 in all games.


Valentine's day for the Dawgs included a doubleheader date with the Salt Lake City Community College Bruins. However, love was not in the cards for the Dawgs as they dropped both games to Bruins by scores of 6-4 and 8-0 respectively. Players struggled to get comfortable on the field and in the box as a weak approach at the plate accompanied by some sloppy defensive miscues hurt the Dawgs performance. The first day served as an introduction to college baseball for the 17 freshmen on the varsity roster and to the sophomores a reminder of what is needed to win baseball games. A quick stop at Jimmy Johns and the Dawgs hit the road again en route to Las Vegas. Although 6 hours on a bus is never welcome, it was better than the 12 spent a day earlier.


Players at the back of the bus were privileged to a live demo by musicians Eric Davies and Dalton “Saltman” Wells. Covers of songs such as Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker and original pieces such as crowd favorite "Copenhagen won’t kill me" could be heard echoing from the back of the bus as the players looked forward to arriving in Sin City. At around 11 the team arrived at Sunset Station Hotel and Casino in Henderson. Players grabbed a bite to eat before heading to bed for the next day’s practice at the College Of Southern Nevada.


After a morning practice, PBA did some sightseeing driving to the Hoover Dam which, on average, generates about 4 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power each year. The off day was therapeutic for the players as the stress of travel was beginning to wear on the players. Long sleep, lots of food from the Sunset Station buffet, and walks to the mall all provided an escape for the day. Through Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Dawgs would continue their preseason play. PBA would get their first win of the 2018 season but ultimately lose 2 out of 3 to Utah State University Eastern. Saturday and Sunday featured games against the #4 ranked Junior College, College of Southern Nevada. The PBA bats were incapable of competing with the velocities presented by the CSN pitching staff. While the games were not in favor of the Dawgs, the poor results would not stop the team from enjoying some time in the city.


Sunday night included a trip to Freemont Street in hopes of some sightseeing. For freshman pitchers, Corson Harris, Duncan Elgert, and Jack Henley a dinner at the Heart Attack Grill would offer a delicious burger with a catch. Not finishing their meals meant their pretty young waitress/ nurse would have to administer a paddling to the players. The spanking was oddly greeted by the pitchers. Elsewhere on the strip sophomores Dalton Wells and Tyson Abbott had their own lady problems. A street performer with boxing gloves was challenging the young boys to spar. Both Dalton and Tyson are athletes in phenomenal shape who would present a challenge in any fighting scenario. They both got their butts kicked. In fact, Tyson left the match bleeding slightly. Sophomore David Leblanc, freshman Jaret Semeniuk, myself and alumni Brett Semeniuk spent the evening enjoying some excellent Asian cuisine with our families at a restaurant aptly named Asian Cuisine. The evening concluded with a cruise down the strip in our bus with coaches Luc Hebert and Ryan MacDonald acting as our tour guides providing an experience that surpasses any tour bus.


Monday provided a full day for relaxation and a much-needed escape from baseball for the team. Our afternoon was spent shopping at the Vegas outlet malls. Players dispersed immediately becoming deal hunters for the day in search of a great bargain. Everyone saw something they were happy to buy. The purchase of the afternoon was by Coach Mac who got an incredibly cute pair of pink and blue pumas for his baby daughter Blakely. After the shopping trip, the team would head to the strip for an afternoon of walking and exploring. Players are not permitted to gamble on this trip (even if they are 21), so the strip is a different experience for the team. Players spend their time exploring the massive hotels, enjoying pictures with the beautiful women and taking photos to share with their friends. The winding hallways of Caesar's Palace, the river of the Venetian and the glamour of the MGM Grand all offered stupendous sightseeing. The boys would end the day with a wholesome family meal at Hooters.


The kids were back from vacation mode with a practice Tuesday morning at CSN. Team defense and a few rounds of BP was necessary for the PBA position players to make some significant adjustments at the plate and in the field. The practice would conclude with a team yoga session that left the squad feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. Freshman pitcher Kyle Poapst and Dalton wells took the opportunity to demonstrate their elite mobility. While others including freshman pitcher, Kale Penner, loves the child’s pose. Later that day the squad would travel to the hotels bowling alley for some friendly competition. Wells, Semeniuk, Harris, and Henley would receive some input from a bowling guru who provided some great tips on how to spin the ball. The advice drastically helped the teams abilities. Sophomore pitcher Kai Poffenroff threw the hardest ball of the day at 24 mph. However, freshman Tyler Arnold claimed he bowled a ball at 44 mph “when no one was around,” but his claims were met with skepticism.


The teams slump continued for the final few games. However, the team as a whole provided better energy and a competitive attitude that made the level off ball much more acceptable. A loss 3-2 to SLCC and an extra inning collapse against USUE were games that could have gone PBA's way. The team is showing signs of improvement and is already looking forward to the next weekend of play. The drive home is always the worst part of any baseball trip. The smells of feet and sweat fill the bus, and there is no game to look forward to. Instead, many people focus on the student part of student-athlete as people begin to focus on their homework on the return to real life. The movie selection was exquisite, Hardball and Major League would headline the movie selection. Our good buddy Ian kept us on the highway pushing to get us home in record time!


Thank you all for reading I’ll catch up with you next week.


Chris Ewanik

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