We're Going For It

by Brantford Expositor

Originally appeared in Brantford Expositor June 4, 2018 by Brian Smiley

It's full steam ahead for the Brantford Red Sox's quest for an Intercounty Baseball League championship.

The Sox added three quality players -- outfielder DeAndre Asbury-Heath and pitchers Kurtis Horne and Charlie Sobieraski -- at last week's signing deadline.

And that has Brantford manager Wayne Forman excited to see if the Sox can finish on top of the league for the first time since 2013.

"It's perfect to get some fresh blood in here and get good players because now everybody else elevates their game at this time of year and prepares for the playoffs," Forman said Wednesday night at Arnold Anderson Stadium as his team prepared to host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"The new guys are coming with a pretty good track record of professional baseball, which lets all our players know we're serious about winning this year.

"We're going for it."

Asbury-Heath is a 22-year-old from South Carolina who was drafted in the 15th round of the 2013 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. The six-foot-three, 170-pound outfielder played two seasons in the Gulf Coast League and another two in the Appalachian League.

Normally a centre-fielder, he was pencilled in as the starting left-fielder on Wednesday night.

Horne is also a MLB draftee as he was selected in the 31st round of the 2014 draft by the New York Mets. The 21-year-old is a six-foot-four, 205-pound lefty who should be a big asset out of the bullpen, particularly against teams like Toronto and Kitchener that feature quite a few left-handed hitters.

Horne played two seasons in the Gulf Coast League and one in the NY-Penn League.

Sobieraski pitched in two games last season for Brantford, going 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA. The six-foot-five, 235-pounder struck out 11 and walked three in five innings of work.

The 22-year-old native of Lockport, N.Y, will spot start for the Sox.

Forman said that moves spurs competition among players.

"If they really want those innings and at-bats, they're going to have to work for it," he said.

"It's a job. If you want your job, you have to work for your job.

"All of a sudden, it's a very competitive environment which becomes excellent for winning.

Prior to the season, the Sox tapped the Dominican market by signing Euclides Leyer, Jose Bautista and Wilson Soriano, who have had varying degrees of success.

Forman said that a schedule hampered by rain has made it difficult for the players to find their groove.

"We just didn't have the reps like everybody else because our schedule was so sparse."

After playing just four times in May, Brantford's schedule didn't really heat up until the middle of last month. At one point, the Sox won five of seven games. And, although they've won only one of three games since then, they did beat the league's top team, Kitchener, 15-1 last Thursday.

With the playoffs a little more than a month away, Forman thinks Brantford will be a team to watch.

"I feel great because we've beaten London, we've beaten Kitchener," he said. "So, we're beating some top team. And we played well with Barrie for one game.

"I'm pretty confident that in a seven-game series, it's going to be a dog fight and we're not going to roll over."

The Red Sox play twice more at home this week - Friday at 8 p.m. against Burlington and Saturday at 2 p.m. against London - before wrapping up with a Sunday game in Toronto at 2 p.m.

Brantford will be looking to get back into the win column after suffering a 3-2 loss against Toronto on Wednesday.

DeAndre Asbury-Heath hit his first home run since joining the Red Sox, with Nick Burdett knocking in the second Red Sox run. Wilson Soriano got three hits and scored a run.

Jose Bautista was the hard-luck starter who took the loss. The pitcher went 6.1 innings allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits with seven strikeouts and five walks. Kurt Horne, Michael Bucci and Tyler Gilles were outstanding in relief.

AROUND THE HORN . . . Forman, who mentioned how tough it was to release quality players, wanted to thank former general manager Mike Bonanno for giving Brantford a line on the recent signings . . . The Red Sox continue to honour their players who were named to the IBL's top-100 team. Wednesday was Ted Baker's turn. Jamie Corke will be honoured on July 18 and Dave Dix's turn takes place on July 25 . . . Forman said the team needs to find some consistency. The Red Sox are 1-8 at home and 6-3 on the road.