COBA Preview: Burlington Brants
Team Name: Burlington Brants
Coaching Staff: Dave Cochrane (Manager), Peter Lambert (Coach) and Rick Ellis (Coach)
Cochrane returns for his seventh season with Burlington since replacing COBA Major Hall of Fame manager Bruce Evans. Lambert will also be back on the coaching staff for his sixth season. Ellis also returns for his second season in Burlington and his 23rd season overall in the COBA Major League. He led the Glanbrook Grizzlies to a COBA Major Playoff Title and also won the Dr. Anson Buck Trophy in 2011 with a record of 17-11.
2014 Overall Record: 16-22-1
2014 Regular Season Record: 12-14-1
2014 Tournament Results: 4-8
Tillsonburg Invitational Tournament: 1-2 (Eliminated – Semi-Finals)
Hap Walters Invitational Tournament: 1-1 (No Winner Declared – Rain)
Senior Elimination Tournament: 1-2 (Eliminated – Saturday Afternoon)
COBA Major League Playoffs: 1-3 (Eliminated – 4th Place)
Burlington kicked off their tournament play in 2014 with a trip to the TIllsonburg Invitational Tournament. The Brants first game was against the expansion North London Bats and they made quick work of the Bats as they won this game 7-1. Burlington starting pitcher Atasushi Urata was one hit away from a perfect game in this one. In game two, the Brants then took on the Pickering Red Sox. This was a tight game as Tim Sogan and Red Sox starter Patrick Vecchiarelli locked horns in a great pitcher’s duel. Burlington couldn’t get the big hit when they needed it and Pickering won this game by a score of 2-1. With a 1-1 record, the Brants advanced on to the “A” Division semi-finals to take on the Thornhill Reds. This game again was a very tight affair but Thornhill pushed hard and tacked on a couple of runs late in the game to defeat Burlington by a score of 6-5 ending the Brants weekend in Tillsonburg.
Next up was the prestigious Hap Walters Invitational Tournament hosted by the COBA Major League. In game one, the Brants faced off against the Mississauga Southwest Twins at Clarkson Park. Trevor Woodjetts drew the start and gave the team a very good start but Kyle Trudell was a little better on this day as the Twins prevailed 4-3 in this one. On Saturday morning, the Brants locked up with the Ilderton Red Army. This game was all Burlington as they jumped on the Ilderton starter early and often on route to a 13-3 mercy shortened victory. Now sitting at 1-1, the Brants got three innings into their last game against East York before the skies opened up and washed out the rest of the tournament.
The next tournament was the Ontario Senior eliminations in Windsor. In Game 1, the Brants drew league mates the Etobicoke Rangers. Trevor Woodjettsmatched up on the hill with Andrew Hyde and again it was another classic pitcher’s duel as the Brants were able to pull out a 2-1 victory. In game two, the road only got tougher for Burlington as they now drew the Mississauga Southwest Twins. Tim Sogan had the assignment for this game and matched up against Jordan Petruska. This was a tight game early on but Mississauga broke open a 2-1 game in the 4th inning tacking on five runs in a 7-2 victory for the Twins. Now sitting at 1-1 and facing elimination, the Brants pressed on to play against the Leaside Leafs. This game, veteran Chris Cooney drew the start and the Leafs put up runs early and often and Leaside starter Jordan Anderson made it stick in an 8-2 loss for Burlington ending their weekend at Windsor at 1-2.
The final tournament for Burlington was the COBA Major League Playoffs. The Brants entered the playoffs as the 4th overall seed and faced the Brampton Royals in their first game. Cam Ryerson was on the hill in this one against Brampton’s Mike Burke. Burke was fantastic in this as the Brants could only muster five hits and the Royals won 3-0. With a quirk in the schedule, the Brants now advanced to play the Niagara Metros on Sunday with a win putting them on the Final Four weekend. The Brants went to ace Trevor Woodjettsand he once again came through as he shut down the Metros offense along only two runs in a 4-2 Burlington victory. At 1-1, the Brants now advanced to the second playoff weekend and drew the Brampton Royals again in game one. Cooney was on the mound for Burlington but the Brants bats couldn’t figure out Royals hurler Burke as he won his second straight by a 6-4 score. Burlington now matched up against the Etobicoke Rangers in an elimination game. Cam Ryerson was on the hill for Burlington hoping for a repeat of the eliminations but it would not be on this day as Andrew Hyde silenced the Burlington offense in a 5-1 loss ending the Brants playoff run in 4th place.
League Team & Individual Award Winners:
*COBA Major League Pitcher of the Year – Trevor Woodjetts
Johnson Division All-Stars
*Mike Grilli (1B)
*Tim Sogan (OF)
*Trevor Woodjetts (RHP)
Non-League Team & Individual Award Winners
*Tim Sogan – Canadian Senior National Bronze Medallist (Pick-Up with Mississauga)
Sogan also had another good season in 2014. He hit a solid .376 at the dish with 3 HRs and 15 RBIs. He also swatted four doubles and two triples while scoring 25 runs as well. On the mound, he had a bit of an off year as he was 2-for-3 with a save and a 1.36 ERA. He recorded 25 Ks in 24 1/3 innings. Sogan was also a pick-up for the Mississauga SW Twins at the Canadian Senior Men’s Baseball Tournament in St. John’s, NFLD earning a bronze medal with the team.
Woodjetts had a very solid season in 2014 and will be looked upon to continue that stretch into this season. Last year, he was 5-1 with a 1.19 ERA. He recorded 55 Ks in 58 2/3 innings of work. The hard working righty always kept his team in the game and earned the COBA Major Pitcher of the Year award for his efforts.
Key Players Returning & Leaving:
In 2015, the Brants will be returning the majority of their roster to the fold. Joining Sogan as key returning players are: RHP/1B Mike Grilli (.364, 3 2B, 12 RBI), 2B/OF Corrie Morrison (.321, 11 2B, 11 RBI), and SS/3B Luke Posivad (.306, 1 HR, 17 RBI). On the mound, the pitching staff will include Woodjetts, Sogan, Cam McKnight (4-0, 3.21 ERA, 37 Ks), and Cam Ryerson(0-4, 1.91 ERA, 35 Ks). Veteran Chris Cooney (2-5, 4.82 ERA, 20 Ks) was rumored to be heading to retirement but will also return to the fold this summer to give some innings and veteran leadership to the pitching staff.
The Brants are losing two very key pieces to their roster in 2015 in the form of OF/RHP Justin Czorny and OF Rob Spiak.
Czorny who played in the COBA Major League for 11+ season between Niagara, Glanbrook and Burlington has decided to retire from senior ball. “CZ “ was always a threat at the plate and delivered outstanding defense in the outfield and also contributed on the mound as well. In seven years in Niagara, he hit a solid .323 with eight homers and 142 RBIs. He also belted 60 doubles while scoring 164 runs. Last year in Burlington, he hit .311 with four doubles and seven RBIs in limited action as he was hampered with some injuries early in the year. Always a fiery competitor on the field but also a very easy going guy off the field, he will be a big loss for the Burlington clubhouse this season.
Spiak played 10+ years both in Glanbrook and then made the move over to Burlington with Czorny and the rest of the Grizz club in 2014. He was often under estimated by his opponent and supplied his team with some great defense in the outfield while providing a solid bat in the middle of the order as well. Last season in Burlington, he hit .318 with a home run and 18 RBIs. He also swatted six doubles while scoring 13 runs as well.
Key Additions to the 2015 Roster:
The Brants have three confirmed additions to their 2015 roster with a couple other players still in the works. The confirmed additions are:
SS Ben Kirby – Kirby, younger brother of former Burlington Brant great Joe Kirby, will be joining the Brants senior team via the Burlington Jr. Bulls program. He will figure into the plans in the infield while bringing a solid bat and some speed to the Brants line-up.
INF Jacob Riddle – Riddle also joins the Burlington senior squad via the Burlington Jr. Bulls team. He will see some time at various positions around the infield this summer.
P Mike Westlake – Westlake is also a graduate of the Burlington Jr. Bulls program from last season. He will figure into the rotation for some spot starts while also throwing out of the pen for the Brants this summer.
Burlington was in the middle of the pack again during the COBA Major League season in 2014. With a couple of key departures in Czorny and Spiak, this team will need some big performances out of its veteran players in order to try and make the jump in the next level in 2015. Look for this team to again compete during the season and if taken lightly have the ability top surprise some teams around Ontario.