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Before crossing the United States-Canadian border Thursday morning, Michael Giorno was greeted by a late winter storm.
Giorno and his 13-year-old Etobicoke Rangers baseball team are hopeful this weekend in Elizabethtown offers a blast of warmer weather as the Rangers kick off their season in the 71-team, six-division Kentucky Pre-Season Championships at Elizabethtown Sports Park.
The Rangers are the first international baseball team to make an appearance at the new facility, said park director Seth Breitner. He said in an email there have been a few soccer teams from north of the border to compete at the complex so far.
Giorno, the team’s manager, said the attraction for his team to come to Elizabethtown is “hopefully” to reach some warmer weather in April and to play at the sports park.
He called the facility “one of the big selling features” when deciding to bring his team about 10 hours for a three-game guarantee tournament.
Giorno said he received an email during the offseason from Game Day USA, host for this tournament, and after looking at photographs online, he was convinced the fields and complex would provide his team a valuable experience.
“These are not the kind of fields we see where we play,” said Giorno, whose team is from the Toronto area. “When I saw what it looked like there, we had to try this complex. And, it was filling up quickly with teams so I knew it would be good competition.”
This is the second tournament the Rangers have played in the U.S., last year attending an event in Maryland at a Cal Ripken complex.
Giorno said his team has a 49-game schedule in place and could play more games, depending on how well they fare in tournaments.
This is the fourth season the team has been together and Giorno said “we have a few good arms and some good speed. We don’t go for power, but we have some good bats and look for timely hits.”
The Rangers open at 6 p.m. against the Huntington Hounds and then play Saturday against one of two Cincy Flames entries and the Midland Chiefs. States represented in the tournament include Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.
This will be one of three Game Day USA tournaments at the sports park this year. Executive Vice President Don Flynn said he and organization founder Rich Janor made an on-site visit to the park and soon realized between the facilities and the Game Day USA national appeal, it was a match worth pursuing.
Game Day also will host tournaments during Memorial Day weekend and in the fall, Flynn said.
Jeff D'Alessio can be reached at (270) 505-1757, or at firstname.lastname@example.org