Shorto’s legacy of strength

Cockburn Gazette - - SPORT -

BEN Shorto’s promis­ing base­ball ca­reer may have been trag­i­cally cut short but his in­flu­ence will long re­main in­te­gral to clashes be­tween his two for­mer WA clubs, Gos­nells and Melville.

Shorto was just 23 when he lost his bat­tle with can­cer last month af­ter an ex­tra­or­di­nary life of strength – on and off the ball park.

The tal­ented ju­nior from Gos­nells was fa­mously signed by Ma­jor League Base­ball’s Cleve­land In­di­ans be­fore his ini­tial di­ag­no­sis, and won a na­tional cham­pi­onship with Perth Heat in 2015 af­ter in­cred­i­bly re­turn­ing to the game he loved as a pitcher.

WA’s base­ball fra­ter­nity, led by close friend Josh Silvi, ral­lied ear­lier this month for a trib­ute day at Tom Bate­man Re­serve in Thorn­lie.

On the day Thorn­lie played host to State League ATWELL Col­lege Ed­u­ca­tion Sup­port Cen­tre stu­dents earned a new piece of sil­ver­ware for their school af­ter tak­ing out an in­ter­school soc­cer com­pe­ti­tion.

The Atwell team was crowned divi­sion 2 cham­pi­ons af­ter a dom­i­nant per­for­mance at the re­cent 2018 Ed­u­ca­tion Sup­port South Net­work (ESSN) Soc­cer Car­ni­val in Cannington.

Cannington Com­mu­nity ESC stu­dent sup­port co­or­di­na­tor and event or­gan­iser Bernardo Dewey said a suc­cess­ful in­au­gu­ral com­pe­ti­tion in 2017 meant it had re­turned big­ger and bet­ter, with a dozen teams rep­re­sent­ing seven schools ri­vals Melville and a big crowd turned out to help to raise more than $2000 for Lym­phoma Aus­tralia.

Among those watch­ing on were for­mer team­mates and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Perth Heat and other State League clubs, along with Ben’s friends, for­mer school­mates and of course, his fam­ily.

Ben’s sis­ter Emma threw the cer­e­mo­nial first pitch, play­ers wore spe­cial No.29 caps and a per­pet­ual tro­phy for the best player was struck as a trib­ute.

“To me, it wasn’t about who won the game, so I de­cided in three di­vi­sions.

“It was a fun day where all the stu­dents were in­ter­act­ing and sup­port­ing each other in a pos­i­tive and in­clu­sive to cre­ate an MVP award,” Silvi said.

“Ben al­ways wanted to be the best player on the field so it was ap­pro­pri­ate.”

Daniel Schmidt, who had played along­side and coached Shorto, was the in­au­gu­ral win­ner.

Silvi said the trib­ute day started from a de­sire to per­son­ally hon­our his mate, but it quickly grew into a spe­cial day for many.

“With the sea­son ap­proach­ing I knew that it would be tough to get back out to base­ball with­out Ben by my side,” he said.

“I wanted to make this man­ner and the feed­back from staff, stu­dents and par­ents was fan­tas­tic, so this drew us to run it again in 2018,” he said.

“Atwell Col­lege and John Tonkin Col­lege ESC had the chance this year to be part of the soc­cer com­pe­ti­tion and they won the divi­sion 1 and divi­sion 2 tro­phy. Ev­ery stu­dent, re­gard­less of their gen­der, abil­ity, or eth­nic­ity was en­cour­aged to have a go.”

The WA Dis­abled Sports As­so­ci­a­tion (WADSA) was also at the event, run­ning in­clu­sive games for stu­dents with higher needs. day for ev­ery­one else, but mainly for the fam­ily.

“Ben’s fam­ily was al­ways very in­volved with base­ball, but with Ben’s pass­ing they are not go­ing to just come down to a reg­u­lar lo­cal club game.”

He said their close friend­ship started from play­ing to­gether on ju­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tive teams.

“I re­mem­ber when Ben made his first state team in un­der-14s and I was in the un­der-16s,” Silvi said. “He al­ways looked up to us other guys be­cause he was so far ad­vanced from other guys in his age group.”

Silvi said Shorto had the world at his feet when he played World Cup base­ball for Aus­tralia at un­der-16 and un­der-18 level and caught the eye of US scouts.

“He signed with the In­di­ans and it was that ini­tial phys­i­cal exam where they found the can­cer,” Silvi said. “He came straight back to Aus­tralia, beat it twice, and three to four years on he got back to the US to play.

“He got to play one game be­fore he was re­leased.”

Shorto’s can­cer came back and while it left him weaker, it didn’t di­min­ish his love for base­ball. Play­ing for Gos­nells and Perth Heat, he rein­vented his game as a pitcher.

“In that sea­son when he was pitch­ing he went on to win a cham­pi­onship and he pitched in Game 3 in Ade­laide, so he was very much a part of that cham­pi­onship team,” Silvi said. “It just shows you the raw tal­ent that he did have.” FRE­MAN­TLE is in the box seat to record an­other two­day match vic­tory af­ter a strong per­for­mance on day 1 of its WA Pre­mier Cricket game against Bayswa­terMor­ley.

With home field ad­van­tage un­der their belt but miss­ing big names in Mitchell Marsh, Ash­ton Turner and Jhye Richard­son, Fre­man­tle was sent in to bat.

They im­me­di­ately be­gan putting runs on the board and de­spite wick­ets fall­ing steadily, a mid­dle­order stand from Daniel Kennedy (59 runs), Chris Daven­port (40) and Bay­ley Hol­man (35) helped Fre­man­tle to a to­tal of 187.

It was in the bowl­ing at­tack where Fre­man­tle did most of the dam­age as Josh Cho­jnowski ripped through the top or­der on his way to 3-26 to have Bayswa­ter-Morley stut­ter to 5-69 at stumps.

In the South Metropoli­tan Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion, the game be­tween neigh­bour­ing clubs Cock­burn and Hil­ton Palmyra is evenly poised af­ter Hil­ton Palmyra notched up 161, in­clud­ing 54 from Si­mon Bier­wirth.

Chris Scenini and Troy Evans did most of the dam­age with the ball, tak­ing three wick­ets apiece.

Phoenix have a small to­tal to de­fend in their match against SJ Blues.

Af­ter be­ing sent in to bat first, Phoenix man­aged just 125 be­fore be­ing bowled over, with Barry Sav­age and Craig Stew­art do­ing most of the scor­ing with 43 runs each.

A bat­ting col­lapse from East Fre­man­tle against Bic­ton At­tadale has seen them go from be­ing in the box seat for a win to strug­gling to sur­vive.

Four ducks to end the Bic­ton At­tadale in­nings saw them fall for 103, but a com­plete col­lapse from East Fre­man­tle’s top or­der saw them reach just 5-27 at stumps.

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