Brantford's quest begins in one week

by Brantford Expositor

Originally appeared in Brantford Expositor April 26, 2013 by Brian Smiley

In exactly one week, the Brantford Red Sox will begin their Intercounty Baseball League season and with that, the Quest to be the Best.

Brantford, the five-time defending IBL champions and winners of six of the past seven titles, will be looking to become the first team in league history to win six straight championships.

Before the Red Sox won their fifth straight title last year, two other teams — the Galt Terriers from 1927-31 and the Red Sox from 1959-63 — had accomplished that feat.

When Brantford takes to the field in Barrie on May 4 for a 2 p.m. game against the Baycats at Schmidt and Shaw Stadium, the quest to top those other two teams begins.

“I get excited every year right around this time, being around the field and watching the guys,” said general manager Mike Bonanno.

Bonanno has already talked about the tremendous pitching staff the team will field, a group that includes John Mariotti, Chris Chavez, Mike Meyers, Nathan Forer, Brandon Huffman, Jamie Richmond, Brad Hogeterp, Robert Ramsdale, Brian Speck, Adam Kudryk and Stefan Strecker.

While Brantford did bolster its mound staff with the additions of Mariotti, Huffman and Richmond, the everyday players remain the same as last year.

“We don't feel like right now we have a need to bring anyone else in,” said Bonanno.

As usual, Wayne Forman will be behind the plate with Tyler Patzalek sharing time with The General.

“The job that Wayne did last year with our staff and offensively was phenomenal,” Bonanno said.

“Every year . . . he continues to be a very consistent player.”

The infield will feature Jason Gotwalt at first, Tyler Burnell at second, Lee Delfino at shortstop and Hyung Cho at third base. Todd Betts will also see time at first base and designated hitter.

“It's so easy going into the season,” explained the general manager.

“When you put those four or five down on paper, it makes your job so much easier.

“It seems like every single game they do something when you say, 'Wow, I didn't think that was possible.'”

Bonanno said having Delfino and Burnell up the middle leaves no worries as the duo has proved a tremendous double-play combo. As for Cho and Gotwalt at the corners, Bonanno said it's like having four middle infielders on the diamond since those two have such great range.

The only downside is that those four players aren't getting any younger — but Bonanno isn't worried.

“I'm not expecting any bit of a drop off offensively or defensively from them,” he said. “With that being said, it is baseball.”

The outfield will feature Josh McCurdy, Terrell Alliman, Steve Lewis and Joe Colameco.

Colameco is returning after missing almost all of last year with a wrist injury.

“I would think those four guys would get an equal opportunity to play,” Bonanno said. “We're excited by what those guys can bring to the table.”

Kevin Hinton and Dwayne Bailey are not expected to be back this season.

While the Red Sox regular season begins May 4, the team has three exhibition games planned around that date as well.

On May 1 and May 8, the team will welcome the Ontario Terriers to Arnold Anderson Stadium and on May 6, the Ontario Blue Jays under-18 squad will be here. All three games will start at 7:30 p.m.

Local baseball fans may want to attend the Terriers game to possibly catch a glimpse of Cal Quantrill, the son of former major leaguer Paul Quantrill.

Cal, a six-foot-three, 165-pound right-handed pitcher, reaches 90 to 92 miles per hour. He's eligible to be selected in this June's major league baseball draft – he's the top-ranked pitcher in Ontario and one of the top Canadian prospects – but he also has a scholarship waiting for him at Stanford University.

The Red Sox will open the home portion of their 42-game regular season on May 11 when the Hamilton Cardinals visit Arnold Anderson Stadium for a 2 p.m. game.

Bonanno expects his team to be at its best right from the first pitch of the season.

“We're going to pretty much have our full team from the first week onwards,” he said.

AROUND THE HORN . . . The Sox will lose Cho at the end of the season once again as his commitments as a coach with Canada's national junior team will see him depart around the beginning of August . . . Hinton is expected to play with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It's closer to his home and the drive to Brantford, with his other commitments, was too much. In an e-mail, Hinton thanked the Red Sox and the city. “Words could never express my gratitude to the Red Sox and the fans for how I was treated,” he wrote. “(Owner) Paul (Aucoin) and the entire organization were absolutely incredible to me and the fans were unwavering in their support. I thank you for making 2012 a year to remember.”