Former Bengals RB Burkhead making rounds in free agency

Published: Monday, March 13, 2017 @ 1:11 PM

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 1: Rex Burkhead #33 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to run the ball past Jerraud Powers #26 of the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

After visiting the Atlanta Falcons over the weekend, former Cincinnati Bengals running back Rex Burkhead is spending Monday visiting the other Super Bowl participant.

According to a report from ESPN’s Field Yates, Burkhead is meeting with the New England Patriots today.

An unrestricted free agent, Burkhead spent four years with the Bengals, rushing for 375 yards and three touchdowns while catching 34 passes for 288 yards. Burkhead amassed 344 rushing yards in 2016 after Giovani Bernard went down with an ACL injury Nov. 20. 

New York bowler rolls perfect game in 86.9 seconds

Published: Monday, April 24, 2017 @ 1:06 AM

Bowling strikes.
Julian Finney/Getty Images for DAGOC

CORTLAND, N.Y. — Bowling a perfect game is difficult, but rolling a 300 game in less than 90 seconds is mind-boggling.

>> Read more trending news

Ben Ketola of Preble, New York, rolled 12 consecutive strikes at 281 Bowl in Cortland on April 5, racing from lane to lane and finishing in 86.9 seconds, Syracuse.com reported.

The 23-year-old, who works at 281 Bowl, used a different ball on each lane and collected strikes on each of the alley’s 10 lanes. Then he ran back to lanes 1 and 2 to complete the unusual perfect game.

“It was fun to do. I honestly wasn't expecting to do it,” Ketola, who averages 225 per game, told Syracuse.com. “I just wanted to see how quickly I could get across the house and get strikes.”

There is no official speed category in the official United States Bowling Congress' record books, but Ketola wanted to try to beat what had been billed as the world’s fastest game by professional bowler Tom Dougherty. Ketola had watched a 2015 YouTube video posted by Dougherty, who threw 12 strikes over 12 lanes in 1 minute, 50.99 seconds. 

“One day while I was practicing I decided I wanted to give it a try and see if I could do it,” Ketola told Syracuse.com.

Ketola, who said he bowls at least 50 games a week, tried three times April 1 but his best effort was seven strikes in a row and 11 out of 12 in 1:35. On April 5, co-worker John Bishop challenged Ketola to try for the record again after their shift was over. Bishop filmed the attempt on his cellphone camera.

Ketola didn't see most of his strikes as he sprinted to each lane for his next shot. He used eight of his own bowling balls and two house balls to set the record, Syracuse.com reported.

“I saw it as a challenge,” Ketola told Syracuse.com. “Next time I may set up all spares on the lanes and see how fast I can make those.” 

Jalin Marshall on camp for kids in Middletown: ‘It warms my heart up”

Published: Sunday, April 23, 2017 @ 8:51 PM
Updated: Sunday, April 23, 2017 @ 8:59 PM


            Former Middletown star and current New York Jet receiver Jalin Marshall leads a huddle with area elementary school students during a football camp on Sunday afternoon at Barnitz Stadium. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing

Since joining the New York Jets last year, former Middletown star Jalin Marshall has read more letters than he anticipated. That’s because his former coach Troy Everhart prefers to write instead of calling or texting.

“I guess he’s getting too old for cell phones, but I won’t tell him that,” Marshall said.

Marshall will not need to read a letter to know what went on in Middletown this weekend, because he was back at Barnitz Stadium on Sunday afternoon to host a football camp for area elementary and middle school students.

“Coming out here and seeing these little kids smile to be in your presence, it’s great,” Marshall said. “It warms my heart up. It’s another step toward what I’m trying to build for myself and for the community.”

It is one of a few times Marshall has been back in Middletown since leaving for Ohio State in 2013. He was a key player for the Buckeyes in the 2014 and 2015 seasons before leaving for the NFL.

»RELATED: Marshall ‘ready to be an NFL star’

He joined the Jets as an undrafted free agent last year and had 14 receptions (including two touchdowns) in 10 games, in addition to kickoff and punt return duties.

His solid performance as a rookie looked to earn him more playing time in 2017, but those chances were dealt a blow last month when the NFL announced a four-game suspension for Marshall due to a positive drug test for unauthorized use of a controlled substance (Adderall).

Marshall apologized on Twitter shortly after the suspension was announced and said he took the medication without getting an exemption from the league.

»RELATED: Marshall suspended four games by NFL

Sunday’s camp was sponsored by ProCamps, a Cincinnati-based company that helps professional athletes put on the events for kids. Organizers forbid any questions to Marshall about his future with the Jets or his upcoming suspension, but he did say he enjoyed making the transition to working in the New York area.

“Coming from here, it’s a big difference,” Marshall said. “You can’t see the sky in New York with buildings everywhere and stuff like that. You have to adapt to it. But it was one step closer in the steps I’m trying to take.”

»RELATED: Doubters motivate Marshall at NFL Combine

Approximately 100 children from first through eighth grade participated in the camp. Marshall and area high school and college coaches assisted in instructing participants through various drills, including 40-yard dashes and throwing competitions. All campers received a T-shirt and an autographed picture of Marshall.

Marshall said he enjoyed interacting with and coaching the participants, which were grouped by age. He ran around from group to group and gave pointers on throwing and receiving, and he also acted as a defensive back during throwing drills.

Marshall also participated in a 40-yard dash with one group — though he looked like he was jogging compared to the participants’ sprinting.

ARCHDEACON: No stopping multi-dimensional Marshall

“It’s good for the kids to see you having a good time with them,” Marshall said. “… It’s a blessing for me to be here.”

Though Marshall is only four years removed from playing for the Middies, one aspect of Barnitz Stadium stood out to him on Sunday: the artiifcial turf field, which was installed in 2014.

“It’s my only time playing on the field with the turf, so I’m enjoying it a little bit,” Marshall said.

South Bend scores five in the eighth to top Dragons

Published: Sunday, April 23, 2017 @ 5:43 PM


            Dragons infielder John Sansone. The Dragons defeated the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers) 10-8 in a Class A minor-league baseball game at Dayton’s Fifth Third Field on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

South Bend scored five runs in the eighth inning Sunday to rally for a 9-8 win over the Dayton Dragons.

The Dragons bullpen — four different pitchers — surrendered seven runs on seven hits and three walks in two innings. Ryan Hendrix (1-1) took the loss. Dayton starter Scott Moss allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and 11 strikeouts in six innings.

John Sansone went 2-for-4 with three RBI and Tyler Stephenson had two hits and an RBI for the Dragons.

Sansone’s two-run single in the top of the eighth gave Dayton a 6-4 lead. But South Bend sent 11 batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning against three Dragons relievers to take a 9-6 advantage.

Dayton got two back in the top of the ninth and had the tying run at first when pinch hitter Michael Beltre grounded out to end the game.

The Cubs won three of the four games in the series. The Cubs and Dragons are tied atop the Midwest League East Division at 10-7.

Dayton opens a three-game series Monday at Bowling Green. First pitch is at 7:35 p.m. The Dragons return home Thursday against Great Lakes.

Arroyo’s ‘Frisbees’ baffle the Cubs

Published: Sunday, April 23, 2017 @ 4:43 PM
Updated: Sunday, April 23, 2017 @ 4:43 PM

CINCINNATI — Are there any more questions about why 40-year-old Bronson Arroyo occupies a spot in the Cincinnati Reds rotation or are there any more comments about Arroyo hogging a roster spot for no apparent reason?

Arroyo put on a pitching tutorial Sunday afternoon against the mighty, mighty, mighty Chicago Cubs in Great American Ball Park.

Not only was it a performance that the young pitchers with the Reds should have watched intently, they should have taken copious notes.

Arroyo’s message, as exhibited on the mound was: “This is how you do it. It is not necessary to try to throw a baseball through unbreakable glass. It is only necesssary to throw strike after strike after strike after strike and permit a free-swinging team like the Cubs to get themselves out.”

THROWING AN ASSORTMENT OF soggy donut pitches ranging between 65 and 86 miles an hour from 15 arm angles and 15 arm slots, Arroyo held the Cubs to two runs and three hits over six innings. And the Reds rescued the final game of the three-game series, 7-5.

Arroyo retired the first 10 in a row. In the first inning he threw 14 pitches, 13 for strikes. After three perfect innings he had thrown 23 pitches, 20 for strikes.

He struck out the side in the fifth. In the sixth he struck out Kyle Schwarber on a 76 miles an hour pitch and struck out Kris Bryant on a 74 miles an hour pitch.

He actually warmed up on the mound before each inning, but it wasn’t necessary. He was wasting bullets and the pitches he threw in games were like batting practice deliveries.

EXCEPT HE HAD THE CUBS dragging their bats back to the dugouts muttering things like, “I can’t believe we can’t hit this guy.”

And that’s the way it has always been for baseball’s version of a Frisbee thrower. Or, as Arroyo described it, “Going to war without that great of a gun.”

How DOES he do it?

“How can I perform on this level with limited stuff?” he said. “I pitch outside the box a bit and I have a very unique set of skills that isn’t necessarily whatever everyone else has. I can throw some very awkward-looking and strange-shaped pitches in any given count.

“It gives me the opportunity to make guys feel uncomfortable at the plate and never really settle in at the plate,” he added. “That’s the way I’ve performed my entire career, so just because my velocity has diminished it doesn’t hurt me. My curveball velocity hasn’t diminished and that’s a funny thing. My fastball is down a bit but I can still throw the breaking ball at 78 and I never really threw it harder than that. I can still spin the ball at a good enough rate to make guys uncomfortable.

“It’s all about savvy and what you’ve acquired over the years,” he said.

Arroyo’s mother named him after rugged, villianous movie star Charles Bronson, who once said, “Audiences like to see the bad guys get their comeuppance.”

Arroyo, though, is nothing but the best of the good guys and it is difficult not to blatantly root for his success, especially after he missed nearly three years with arm and shoulder problems.

In an effort to return to the game, he told the Reds to fill in any numbers they wanted on a contract and he’d sign it, which they did and he did. And the naysayers were rampant on social media when Arroyo struggled during his first two starts while he re-set and re-tuned his pitching mechanics.

And he still isn’t back to where he was in 2013 when he was a 14-game winner with a 3.79 ERA.

“My arm feels fine and normal when I start the game,” he said. “But there are some irregularities still in there and it hurts as the game progresses. In between starts I can barely touch a baseball. But I think I can work that out of there and if I do I can be what I was in 2013.”

THE REDS SCORED A RUN in the first inning against Cubs start John Lackey. Billy Hamilton singled and on the first two pitches to Jose Peraza he stole second and third. He scored on Joey Votto’s sacrifice fly.

Scott Schebler, 1 for his last 20, cracked a two-out solo home run in the second to make it 2-0.

The Cubs scored their only runs off Arroyo in the fourth when Kris Bryant singled and Anthony Rizzo hit his third homer in three days against the Reds, tying the game, 2-2.

Scooter Gennett’s double and Schebler’s single broke the tie and gave the Reds a 3-2 lead in the fourth, only Schebler’s second two-hit game of the season.

The Reds broke it apart in the sixth when the first four batters of the inning reached and all four scored. Patrick Kivlehan, a late insertion into the lineup, cleared the full bases with a three-run double.

SO AFTER LOSING THE FIRST two to the World Series champions, the Reds turned to a 40-year-old guy coming off a three-year hiatus to be the stopper.
“In the past, I loved being the guy taking the ball after we’d lost three or four in a row,” he said. “You always want to be the guy who can stop the bleeding. But being in the position I’m in now, you have the champs at the plate and they also ran a nice lefthanded lineup out there against us, it was a hell of a win.”

And one hell of a comeback by a true craftsman took another step forward.