COBA Preview – Brampton Royals
Team Name: Brampton Royals
Coaching Staff: Blake Frost (president), Ron Lutz (general manager), Dave Doherty (manager), Joe C. Ferreira (third base coach), David Flannagan(third base coach), Bruce Wrigley (first base coach), Scott Stephenson(bench coach)
Frost and Lutz are entering their 12th season with the Senior Royals after starting the team up in 2004. Both will continue to act in an administrative role for the team taking care of the off field dealing for the Royals. Stephenson will also return to the club in his role of bench coach for his ninth season with the senior squad. Doherty, Flannagan, and Wrigley all enter their second season at the helm of the Senior Royals. Ferreira is entering his first season on the coaching staff for the Brampton club after coaching over in the Brampton Minor ball.
2014 Overall Record: 16-24-2
2014 Regular Season Record: 9-16-2 (3rd Place – Andrews Division)
2014 Tournament Results: 7-8
Vaughan Invitational Tournament: 1-2 (Missed Playoff Round)
Hap Walters Tournament: 2-1 (No Winner Declared – Rain)
Senior Elimination Tournament: 1-2 (Eliminated Saturday Afternoon)
COBA League Playoffs: 3-3 (Finished – 3rd Place)
After having a rough 2013 in tournament play, the Royals performed a bit better in 2014 finishing with a record close to .500. Their first tournament of the year was the Vaughan Vikings Invitational tournament. This was the Royals first trip to this tournament. Brampton kicked off the tournament against the Newmarket Hawks of the GTBL. This was a very tight game as rookie LHP Zach Sloan held down the big Hawks bats in a 3-1 victory. the second game saw the Royals lock up with the Pickering Red Sox. The offence ran a little dry in this game for Brampton as Brad Binns was masterful on the mound in a 5-1 victory for the Red Sox evening the Royals record at 1-1. In their final round robin game, Brampton played against the Etobicoke Rangers. Both teams hit the ball well in this one as Royals DH Joe Ferreira belted a home run in an 11-7 loss to the Rangers. With the 1-2 record, the Royals missed out of the playoff round.
In their second tournament, Brampton took part in the annual Hap Walters Tournament. The Royals squad opened their tournament against the Milton Red Sox. This was an excellent game as both Ferreira and Ian Zettle of the Red Sox were masterful in this contest with Brampton squeaking out a 1-0 victory. On Saturday morning, the Royals then pressed on to play against the Windsor Stars. The Stars were able to put up some early runs against starterMike Burke and Matt Rustulka held the Brampton bats at bay in a 5-1 Windsor victory. Now sitting at 1-1, Brampton needed a victory for any hope of advancing in the tournament. The Royals final game was against the Bolton Brewers and they left no doubt in this one as they defeated the Brewers 8-2. Unfortunately, The Royals could not defeat the rain storm that entered the GTA as the rest of the tournament was scraped due to poor field conditions.
Next up, was the Ontario Senior Elimination tournament in Windsor. Brampton drew the Lakeside Lizards in their first game and left no doubt in this one asVic Speciale belted a home run in a 12-4 victory. With the win, the Royals pressed on to take on the Newmarket Hawks in Game 2. This game was a complete reversal of their opener as the Hawks put the boots to the Brampton squad by a score of 10-3. This now placed the Royals into an elimination game against the Bolton Brewers. This was definitely one of the better played game of the tournament but alas the Brewers pushed across a late run as the Royals fell 1-0 ending their 2014 Senior Eliminations tournament with a 1-2 record.
Brampton’s final tournaments of the year were the COBA Major Playoff Tournaments. After a very disappointing two and out in the 2013 playoffs, the Royals made a very strong run in 2014. They opened up the first weekend against the Burlington Brants. Burke drew the assignment in this game and was fantastic in a 3-0 Brampton victory. This moved Brampton into their next game against the pennant winning Etobicoke Rangers. The Rangers, after sweeping the season series against the Royals, proved to be too much as they defeated Brampton by a score of 5-1. This placed the Royals into an elimination game on Sunday morning against the Milton Red Sox. Like before, these two teams played another exciting ball game as Ferreira out duelled Red Sox hurler Justin Volpato in a 1-0 Brampton victory. With the win and a 2-1 record, the Royals now advanced to the second playoff weekend. They opened this weekend with a game against the Burlington Brants. Burke again drew the opening game start and was good enough on the mound and Eric Hammerl belted a home run for the Royals in a 6-4 victory. This put Brampton into a second round matchup against the Erindale Cardinals. Ferreira got the start on the mound for the Royals but the Cards jumped on him quick for some early runs as Brampton dropped an 8-2 decision in this one. At 1-1, the Royals now advanced to the semi-final game to take on the Etobicoke Rangers. Ryan Thompson drew the start in this game and threw well but the offense couldn’t get anything going against Ranger starter Kevin Breitner as the Royals fell 5-2 ending their COBA Major season in third place.
2014 League Team & Individual Award Winners:
*COBA Major Sportsman of the Year – Victor Speciale
*COBA Major Comeback Player of the Year Nominee – Steve Hough
*COBA Major Rookie of the Year Nominee – Yannick Rickli
Andrews Division All-Stars
*Steve Hough (OF)
Speciale as been a solid force for this team over the past few years. The veteran 1st baseman hit .415 in 2014 with a home run and 25 RBIs. He also scored 17 runs while his 8 doubles had him amongst the provincial leaders.
Rickli had a very solid rookie campaign for the Royals in 2014. The young outfielder hit a solid .337 with a home run and 19 RBIs. He scored 18 runs and was a threat on the base paths swiping 15 bases as well.
Key Players Returning & Leaving:
The Royals for the most part will be retuning the majority of their team for the 2015 season. Key returning position players joining Speciale and Rickli are:Steve Hough (.328, 6 2B, 14 RBIs) and Joe Ferreira (.292, 3 HR, 12 RBIs). Ferreira (1-1, 4.96 ERA, 14 Ks) will also see some time on the mound along with Mike Burke (2-2, 5.87 ERA, 24 Ks) and Joe Nonis (2–2, 3.55 ERA, 23 Ks).
Players not returning to the Royals roster this year are LHPZach Sloan, RHP Ryan Bauer,OF Brandonn Cole, and OFAlex Levy.
Key Additions to the 2015 Roster:
RHP Brad McLaughlin – McLaughlin returns to the Royals roster after a year off in 2014. He provided some very good innings for the team back in 2013 and will be looked upon to do the same this season.
INF Matt Forer – Forer joins the Royals team this season after playing last season with the Guelph Royals of the IBL. The second baseman hit .278 in 58 plate appearances with Guelph collecting 15 hits and 5 RBIs.
The revamped Royals enter this season looking to continue to improve upon their 2014 season. They went from eight wins in 2013 to 16 wins in 2014 and will look to make that number larger this season. They will need a big contribution from their veteran core if this team is going to make any noise at tournaments and in the COBA Major League.