Letters of Intent
2015 COBA Major League Preview – Niagara Metros
By Dan Estey
Team Name: Niagara Metros
Jono Marcheterre (General Manager/Player)
Kerry Hedden (Field manager)
Brian Essery (asstistant coach)
With the departure of Mark Walters from the GM post after 30 seasons, Marcheterre takes over at the helm of the Metros for his first season. Along with watching the day-to-day operations of the team, he will also be entering his 13th season as a player on the Niagara squad. Hedden, after an 11 year playing career, is entering his 15th season as the field manager of the Metros. The 2013 COBA Major executive of the year was without an assistant coach for last season but that will change in 2015. Former Metros star pitcher Brian Essery will be joining the coaching staff this summer as an assistant coach. Essery, the former pro pitcher and current Pittsburgh Pirates associate scout, brings with him a vast knowledge of the game both as a player and as a coach and will be a very welcomed commodity in the Metros dugout to give Hedden a hand with the coaching duties.
2014 Overall Record: 31-13-1
2014 Regular Season Record: 18-9-1 (2014 Johnson Division Champions)
2014 Tournament Results: 13-4
Vaughan Invitational Tournament: 6-0 (Tournament Champions)
Hap Walters Tournament: 3-0 (No Winner Declared – Rain)
Senior Elimination Tournament: 3-2 (Eliminated Sunday Afternoon)
COBA League Playoffs: 1-2 (Eliminated – 1st Playoff Weekend)
The Metros first tournament of the year was the Vaughan Invitational Tournament. This was the first time the Metros had attended this tournament and they made a huge impression on the field as they ran the table winning the tournament championship. In the round robin they collected wins against the Leaside Leafs (11-4), the North London Bats (20-0), and the Strathroy Royals (5-3). With their 3-0 record, the Metros now advanced to the quarter-finals to take on the host Vaughan Vikings. This game was tight for a bit before Niagara blew it open late and went on to win 11-6. Niagara now had a match-up with league mates the Erindale Cardinals in the semi-finals. This was a great game and Niagara looked to have things in hand but a late single from the Cardinals drove in the tying run to send the game to extra innings. Niagara didn’t waste any time though as they put up four runs in the first extra frame and Justin Ayles held down the Erindale bats in an 8-4 victory. Niagara now advanced on to the championship game where they met up with the Strathroy Royals again. The Metros left no doubt in this one as they scored early and often in a lopsided 11-3 victory to claim the tournament title.
Next up for the Niagara squad was the annual Hap Walters Invitational Tournament hosted by the COBA Major League. Niagara kicked off this tournament against the Oakville A’s. The Metros came out swinging in this one as they put up 12 runs and Niagara starter Dan Veres held the A’s bats at bay in a 12-0 mercy shortened victory. In Game 2, Niagara matched up against the Ivy Leafs of the North Dufferin Baseball League. The Metros were in tough in this one facing Ivy ace Brad Grieverson but they managed to collect some timely hits and Geoff Strong went the distance in a 6-3 win. In Game 3, Niagara wrapped up the round robin against the Newmarket Hawks. Once again, the Metros found themselves in a tight game but managed some timely hits while Justin Ayles kept the Hawks bats silent in a 4-1 victory. The Niagara crew was scheduled to advance to the playoff round but unfortunately Mother Nature took over from there as the rest of the tournament was postponed due to a major rain storm that entered the Milton area.
Next up was the Ontario Senior elimination tournament for the Metros squad. After going out on Sunday morning in 2013, the team was looking to make a deep run again this season. The Metros were in very tough in their first game as they drew the defending senior elimination champions the Mississauga Southwest Twins. Dan Veres drew the start on the hill and was up against Twins ace Billy (Hoover) Hurley. Both were flying along smoothly until the 4th inning when Veres hit a bit of a speed bump as he gave up a two-run home run to Jerome Smith and then followed that up with a solo shot off the bat of Sean Bignall. Veres was masterful the rest of the game only allowing one more hit to the Mississauga squad. Only problem was the Metros offense could only muster three hits off of Hurley as they dropped their opener 3-0. This had Niagara on the ropes right away and game two saw them matched-up with another familiar foe in the Etobicoke Rangers. The Metros went to ace Paul McKenna to try and extend their stay at the tournament and McKenna did exactly that. He was masterful on the mound as he held a very good Rangers offense to one run. The game was once again a very tight affair but late in the game a big home run off of the bat of Dave Davidson propelled the Metros ahead for good as they won the game 3-1 and pushed on in the tournament. In game three on Saturday afternoon, Niagara now drew the Sarnia Braves. Geoff Strong was on the mound in this game and was dominant only allowing two runs in the game. The Niagara offense came to life in this game as they put up six runs in a 6-2 victory. With the victory, the Metros took their 2-1 record into Sunday morning and another match-up with the Erindale Cardinals. These two teams had a very memorable game last year that saw the Cards edge the Metros and send them packing. This year was more of the same as the Metros jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead and for a while that seemed like all Niagara starter Justin Ayles would need but Erindale answered back in the fourth with a bases clearing double off of the bat of veteran Geoff Cullen to tie the game 3-3. The Cards looked poised to break the Metros hearts again as they loaded the bases in the fifth with no one out but the Metros were able to spin a triple play on some shoddy base running by Erindale to escape with allowing a run. The Metros jumped on the Erindale bullpen in the late innings to tack on three more runs winning the game 6-3 and moving on to Sunday afternoon. In Niagara’s fifth game, they matched up with the Pickering Red Sox of the GTBL. Brandon Beattie drew the start for Niagara in this game and was up against Brad Binns. Beattie was able to keep the Red Sox at bay for a few innings but Pickering was able to put up a few late runs winning the game 6-3 ending the Metros 2014 elimination tournament with a record of 3-2.
The final tournament for Niagara was the COBA Major League Playoff Tournaments. Based on their regular season finish, the Metros were the two seed in tournament and were looking to capture their 3rd straight COBA Major Playoff Title which would put them in some elite company of one of the few teams to accomplish this feat. The Niagara crew kicked off their playoff run with a game against the Oakville A’s. Geoff Strong drew the start in this game and the Metros bats came to play in this game as they lit up Oakville pitching for 12 runs in a 12-4 victory. With the win, they now moved on to play the Erindale Cardinals for the third time in tournament play in the 2014 season. These two teams did not have much to hide and the Metros sent ace Paul McKenna to the hill as he matched up with Dan Estey of the Cardinals. The Cards were able to get to McKenna early as John Amendola and Chris Novia both belted home runs giving Erindale an early lead. Niagara answered back as Dave Davidson belted a home run of his own to cut into Erindale’s lead but Amendola put the Cards again for good as he belted his second home run. Niagara was able to tacked on two more runs but ended up on the short end of a 7-4 loss. This put the Metros into an elimination game on Sunday morning against the Burlington Brants. Niagara, who was missing a few key players on this day, battled hard but came up on the short end of a 4-2 game ending their season with a 1-2 record in the playoffs.
League Team & Individual Award Winners:
*2014 Johnson Division Champions
*COBA Major League Rookie of the Year – Phil Steer
*Ontario Senior Baseball Blog Rookie of the Year – Phil Steer
Johnson Division All-Stars
*Phil Steer (3B)
*Ricky Ferri (OF)
*Dave Davidson (OF)
*Daniel Veres (LHP)
Ontario All-Star Teams
*Dave Davidson (1st Team All-Star OF)
*Phil Steer (2nd Team All-Star SS)
*Ricky Ferri (2nd Team All-Star OF)
*Matt Watson (3rd Team All-Star RP)
Non-League Individual & Team Achievements
*Paul McKenna – 2014 National Bronze Medalist (Pick-Up with Mississauga Southwest Twins)
*Ricky Ferri, Chris Anderi, Will Nicholson, Justin Ayles, Matt Watson, Dan Veres, Brandon Beattie – 2014 OUA Champions & OUA/OCAA Finalists- Brock University
The Johnson Division title is the team’s 3rd in a row and their fourth title in six years.
Davidson had a breakout season for the Metros in 2014. The former pro batted a solid .336 while swatting 12 home runs and collecting 42 RBIs. Both those totals were career highs as he was named to the Ontario 1st All-Star team as an outfielder.
Ferri had another solid season as well. The speedy outfielder batted .408 with a home run and a career high 38 RBIs. The Ontario 2nd Team All-Star OF once again caused havoc on the base paths swiping 25 bases on the year and providing a very solid anchor on defense in center field.
Steer had a very memorable first season of senior baseball as he was named the Rookie of the Year for both the COBA Major League and the Ontario Senior Baseball Blog. The SS hit a tidy .392 with a home run and 24 RBIs. Like Ferri, he was also trouble for pitchers on the bases as he stole 32 bags on the year.
Key Players Returning & Leaving:
The Metros will be returning the majority of their roster for the 2015 COBA Major season. Joining the guys named above, other key returnees include C/INF Evan Baglieri (.281, 3HR, 38 RBIs), 2B Jonathan Paul (.278, 3 HR, 28 RBIs), and OF Anthony Vacca (.315, 1 HR, 34 RBIs). On the mound, Geoff Strong (6-1, 3.05 ERA, 64 Ks) and Justin Ayles (7-2, 3.42 ERA, 36 Ks) will return to give Niagara some innings again this season.
Not returning to the Metros roster this season are: OF/DH Andrew Sorochan, INF Chris Pickles, RHP AJ Clark, C Will Nicholson, and LHP Dan Veres.
The veteran Sorochan moves on after a brilliant 11 year career with the Metros organization. The Newmarket native came to the Niagara club via the Brock Badgers Baseball program in 2004 and made an immediate impact on the team. For his career, he hit a solid .297 while hitting 29 home runs and driving in 245 runs. He also hit 78 doubles while scoring 188 runs and adding some very valuable veteran leadership to a young Metros squad over the past few seasons.
Pickles played five seasons for the Metros and played a big role with the club because of his versatility in playing different positions in the infield. For his short career, he hit .305 while collecting 17 doubles. He also scored 66 runs while collecting 72 RBIs.
Clark, Nicholson, and Veres were relatively new additions to the team with Veres playing two seasons while Nicholson and Clark each played one season. Veres had an exceptional two years as he went 12-3 with a 2.97 ERA. He collected 72 strikeouts while only walking 44 batters. Nicholson saw time as the back-up catcher to Marcheterre and hit a solid .323 while collecting 21 hits and driving in six runs. Clark joined the Metros from the Durham Lords Collegiate program. In 31 innings of work, the young RHP went 2-2 with a 5.31 ERA. He also collected 22 strikeouts and walked 24 batters.
Key Additions to the 2014 Roster:
Alex Tufts (RHP) – Tufts was born and raised in Kentville, NS where he played his minor baseball but will be bringing his talents to the Niagara region and the Metros Senior club in 2015. He attended both the Vauxhall and Prairie Baseball Academies out west before signing with Canisius University in 2012. There he played under Canadian skipper Mike McRae and graduated with a degree in philosophy, as well as becoming a noted blooger — winning the Best in Western New York/Canada title. He also played a couple of seasons in the Western Major Baseball League for the Lethbridge Bulls and the Swift Current Indians. Upon finishing his career at Canisius, Tufts then went abroad playing in season in both Europe and Australia before returning home.
Brendan Ellingham (RHP) – Ellingham finds his way to the Metros roster via the baseball program at Brock University. He also played a season for the Burlington Bandits of the Intercounty Baseball League in 2013. Last year at Brock, he appeared in 8 games throwing 11 innings for coach Lounsbury. He had a 0.82 ERA and struck out 13 batters while walking only 8.
Will Jenkins (C) – Jenkins is currently attending Elmira College in the states where is a rookie member of the Soaring Eagles. The Niagara Falls native is a three sport athlete playing tennis and volleyball along with baseball and will be looked upon to log some innings behind the dish with veteran Marcheterre.
Since 2010, the Metros club has performed very well both in league play and at tournaments around the province as well including numerous tournament championships and a trip to the final three at the Eliminations in 2012. This team will be looking to make the next big jump in 2015 to get up and challenge the elite teams in the province for an Ontario Senior Elimination Title and a trip to the Canadians.