Burlington Herd looking to hit their stride

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By Matt Betts

Canadian Baseball Network

The youngest franchise in the Intercounty Baseball League are taking part in just their eighth season in the league.

The Burlington organization has spanned two cities and three names as they continue to try and nail down an identity in the storied IBL. Although this is their eighth season occupying Burlington as their home city, they can trace their roots back to the 2009 season just 39.3 kilometres up the highway to Mississauga. The current Herd were born in ’09 as the Mississauga Twins but lasted just two seasons there before uprooting to their current home.

From 2011-2013 they remained the Burlington Twins before rebranding themselves as the Burlington Bandits until 2016. Looking for a closer connection to the community they again changed their name in 2017 to the Herd. The name Herd has special meaning to baseball people in the city as it intertwined with the Burlington Organized Minor Baseball Association whose team name is the Bulls. The team plays their games at Cosgrove Park or better known to   fans as “The Barn”.

The Herd carried a 81-174 record into the 2018 season. Blue Jays fans can relate to the team as New Hampshire Fisher Cats outfielder Connor Panas donned the Burlington jersey in 2012 and 2013, hitting .298.

Top 100

The Herd placed one player on the IBL’s Top 100 list earlier this year. Branson Joseph (Mississauga, Ont.) spent four seasons in the league, all with Mississauga/Burlington. His 494 at-bats and 157 hits are both franchise records.

Joseph’s accomplishments spanned far beyond the IBL. He represented Canada at the 2005 World Junior Championships and hit .273 in seven games. He later left for school to play for then head coach Mike McCrae (Niagara Falls, Ont.) at NCAA Division I Canisius College. There he was named to the All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in 2008 after hitting .312 with 11 home runs and 43 RBIs. During his college playing days from 2006-2009 he was a .290 career hitter with 25 home runs and 156 RBIs in 213 games played. He got on base at a .393 clip and slugged an impressive .463.

Current

The Herd have yet to enjoy a winning season with their best year being in 2015 when they finished 15-21. The franchise is also looking for their first playoff series win. The closest they have come was a 4-3 series loss in the first round to the London Majors in 2015. The team finished 13-23 during the 2017 season.

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Matt Betts

Matt Betts was born in Brantford, Ontario in 1992. From a very young age, he loved all things baseball ... but even more, all things Canadian. His baseball career began with the Brantford Junior Red Sox, followed by three years (2008 thru 2010) with the Ontario Terriers program of the PBLO - twice winning the Most Proficient Pitcher award. The past four years he pitched at the University of West Alabama of the Gulf South Conference – twice earning Most Dedicated Player honours. Summer baseball experience includes pitching for the Hamilton Cardinals, and the Licking County Settlers (2013 Great Lakes League champs) and again this summer the Hamilton Cardinals. As an Integrated Marketing Major at UWA, he wrote extensively for the university newspaper, with a focus on baseball. His lifelong dedication and love for the game is indisputable, but his passion for sports writing and broadcasting/analysis has grown with each passing year. There is something very satisfying about “digging a little deeper” to reveal the “story within the story.” After four years of life in the United States, he is thrilled to be back home in Canada, ready to cover and promote Canadian sports and players.