COBA Preview: Etobicoke Rangers

mark capone named

* Bat wizard Mark Capone, who earned COBA Andrews Division all-star statue and won the batting title last season, is back to carry on for the 2015 season … just as he did for the UBC Thunderbirds earning all-conference honors. ….. 

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Letters of Intent

By Dan Estey
Team Name

Etobiocke Rangers

Coaching Staff:

Steve “Whitey” Breitner (General manager/manager/pitching coach)
Bill Thompson (First base coach/Infield & outfield coach)
Jon Kielb (Bench coach)

Breitner is entering his 25th season with the Etobicoke Rangers Senior Team. The veteran bench boss has a vast resume of success at the senior level leading his squad to three Ontario Senior Elimination Tournament Championships (1999, 2002, and 2004) and also finished as a finalist twice (1998 and 2000). In 2014, The Rangers won the Dr. Anson Buck Trophy for the 2nd consecutive year finishing 22-5 league record in the COBA Major AAA Senior loop. The Rangers are 70-26-1 the past two seasons and had a 16-game winning streak end in their last regular season game in 2014.

Team Website

2014 Overall Record: 30-12

2013 Regular Season Record: 22-5 (1st Place – Andrews Division)

2014 Tournament Results: 8-7-0 record

Vaughan Invitational Tournament: 1-2 record – missed playoff round
London Lakeside Tournament: 2-1 record – missed playoff round
Hap Walters Tournament: 2-0 record – Tournament Cancelled due to rain.
Senior Elimination Tournament: 0-2 record – first time Rangers have gone 2 & out since 1992
COBA League Playoffs: 3-2 record – COBA Major League Finalists

The Rangers took a bit of step back in tournament play during the 2014 season. The first tournament for the Rangers club was the Vaughan Vikings Invitational Tournament. Etobicoke performed very well at the is tournament in 2013 running the table at 5-0 and winning the tournament title. In 2014, their opened the tournament against the Pickering Red Sox and dropped a 5-2 decision to the GTBL club as Pat Vecchiarelli out matched Andrew Hyde on the hill. In game two, the Rangers came out swinging as they built up a big league against the Newmarket Hawks only to see it slip away in the late innings as the Hawks charged back to win the game by a score of 12-9. Veteran hurler Vic Simon earned the victory in relief while Kyle Angelow took the loss for Etobicoke. Now sitting at 0-2, the Rangers wrapped up their round robin schedule against league mates the Brampton Royals. Andrew Perryman earned the win on the hill as the Etobicoke salvaged an 11-7 win to finish the tournament at 1-2 missing the playoff round.

At the London/Lakeside tournament, the Rangers had a much better showing but didn’t get the overall results that they wanted. They opened the tournament again the very tough and talented Tecumseh Sr. Thunder. This was a very tight affair which ended on a walkoff home run by Thunder slugger Mitch Delaney.The final score was 5-3. In their second game, it was the Brett Sanders show as the big first baseman slugged two home runs and drove in all 5 runs in a 5-4 victory over the Windsor Stars. Kyle Breitner went the distance on the mound out duelling Stars ace Steve Teno. In their final round robin match-up, the Rangers drew the Michigan Braves. Once again in a very well played tight contest, Kevin Breitner was able to hold off a late charge by a talented Braves squad to earn a 4-3 victory. After finishing with a 2-1 record, the Rangers missed out on the playoff round due to their +/- differential.

At the annual Hap Walters Tournament hosted by the COBA Major League, Etobicoke seemed to have found their stroke as they put together a couple of good wins against the Thornhill Reds (4-3) and the Windsor Athletics (4-3) and was in control against the Strathroy Royals in their 3rd round robin game when a huge rain storm entered the GTA area flooding all of the tournament venues and washing out the rest of tournament leaving the tournament without a winner for the first time since 2009.

At the Ontario Senior Baseball eliminations, the Rangers ended up on the short end of two very close losses going two and out for the first time since 1992. In their first game, Trevor Woodjetts held the Ranger bats at bay as they Brants cruised to a 2-1 victory. Andrew Hyde was brilliant on the hill for Etobicoke in taking the hard luck loss. This put the Rangers into an early elimination game against the very tough Niagara Metros. Like the first game, Etobicoke ran into another hot pitcher in the form of ace Paul McKenna as he silenced the Ranger bats for the second straight game in a 3-1 Niagara victory. Gary Rose was the victim on the mound in this game as he held the Metros potent offense down allowing only three runs in taking the loss.

Their final tournament, as it is for all COBA teams, was the Playoff Tournament. With their first place finish during the regular season, the Rangers only needed one win in the 1st playoff weekend and they did that in their first game defeating the Brampton Royals by a score of 5-1. Gary Rose was the winning pitcher on the hill while Royals rookie southpaw Zach Sloan took the loss. With the win, the Rangers advanced to the second playoff weekend and drew an opening match-up against the Erindale Cardinals. The Ranger bats ran into a bit of a cold spell as Cardinals hurler Ian Bala shutdown Etobicoke by a score of 3-1. Gary Rose was the hard luck loser for the Rangers. Now on the ropes the rest of the way, the Rangers now moved on to play against the Burlington Brants. The Rangers were in complete control of this one the whole way as Andrew Hyde shutdown the Brants bats in a 5-1 victory. This now placed Etobicoke into an elimination game against the Brampton Royals once again. This time it was Kevin Breitner who held down the Royals bats as the Rangers cruised to a 5-2 victory earning them a spot in the championship game on Sunday for the 3rd straight season. Etobicoke would face the Erindale Cardinals again, and like the first game, it was a very tight, well-played contest. The Rangers battled hard tying the game in the seventh inning for force extra innings but the Cards put up two runs in the extra frame to win the game 6-4. Etobiocke finished as the COBA Major League Playoff Runners-Up for the third straight season.

League Team & Individual Award Winners:
2014 Dr. Anson Buck Trophy Winners (League Regular Season Champs)
2014 Andrews Division Champions
2014 League Playoff Finalists
COBA Major League Batting Champion – Mark Capone (.465 average)
COBA Major League Executive of the Year –Manager Steve Breitner

Andrews Division All-Stars
Mark Capone (2B)
Ryan Panas (3B)
andrew hydeAndrew Hyde (RHP)
Bryan Vardzel (RP)

Ontario All-Star Teams
Ryan Panas (2nd Team All-Star 3B)
Mark Capone (3rd Team All-Star 2B)
Kyle Breitner (3rd Team All-Star RHP)

Non-League Individual Awards Winners:
Kyle Breitner 1st Team All-Canadian OUA/OCAA/CIBA
OCAA Top Pitcher (2nd straight year)

The Anson Buck Trophy was the first for the Rangers organization since the 2009 season when they went 22-5 and led the COBA Major Loop with 44 points.

Breitner had another very imprerssive season in 2014 both at the senior and collegiate level as a member of the St. Clair Saints Baseball Team. During the senior season, Breitner was 5-0 in 42 innings of work with a 2.12 ERA. He followed that up with another great season at St. Clair resulting in a second straight OCAA Pitcher of the Year Award and a selection as a 1st Team All-Canadian.

Panas also had another good season at the plate and in the field. He hit .415 overall for the year hitting one home run and driving in 35 runs. The COBA Major and Ontario All-Star also swatted 18 doubles to lead the Rangers squad.

The veteran Capone continued his stellar senior career with another great season. He captured the COBA Major Batting title hitting a solid .465 in league play and .403 overall for the season. He belted eight doubles while driving in 24 runs and collecting his seventh Andrews Division All-Star selection at second base.

Key Players Returning & Leaving:
The Rangers will be returning 17 players to their 2014 roster. Key returning players along with Breitner, Panas, and Capone are Andrew Hyde (7-2, 1 Sv, 2.31 ERA) and former pro John Suomi (.367, 3 HR, 27 RBIs). The big name returning to the roster for 2015 is 1B Brett Sanders.brett sandersThe 2013 COBA Major League MVP only played a handful of games last season due to a serious hamstring injury but has been given a clean bill of health and will be ready to return to the Rangers line-up.

The team will also be adding six players from the 2014 pennant winning Etobicoke Jr. Baseball Team. RHP Adam McBride (Laurier University), C/1B/OF Kyle Bowers (U of Toronto), OF Roman Testani (NAIA – University of Mobile), DH (and Jr League MVP) Julian Johnson (D1 – Columbia State CC), RHP Brent Cleland (D1 – University of Buffalo), and Andy Rattigan (Okanagan College). Also joining the team this summer is Canisius University standout SS Connor Panas fresh off of his Player of the Year award in his US University loop.

Leaving the team from the 2014 roster are C Kyle Clancy, 3B Pip Murray-Smith, SS Damian Eccelton, LHP Guido Monis, RHP Brian Molloy, and LHP Alex Dannett. Also leaving the Rangers is OF Quinn Ellerbeck who will be moving to the GTBL as a member of the Leaside Leafs.

Despite some slides during the season, the Etobicoke Rangers had a very successful 2014 season finishing atop the COBA Major League Standings and also finishing as the fourth ranked team in Ontario based on the Ontario Senior Baseball Website/Blog. In 2015, this team has reloaded and will be looking to make some serious noise both in the COBA Major League and in tournament play as well to try and return to the top as the best team in Ontario. Look for them to be a major threat around the province no matter who they match up against.

Scott Harrigan
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