Ontario Blue Jays crowned inaugural champions of the CPBL

The Ontario Blue Jays are the inaugural champions of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, crowned the winners in the top division of the circuit after a 9-3 win over the Toronto Mets 18U squad to finish the season.

It took six wins to get through the playoff weekend, and a hard-fought battle to take down the toughest teams in the division, and the Ontario Blue Jays squad led by Mike Steed, the director of pitching and college placement for the program, used a younger roster than it had for the majority of the regular season to get the job done.

“We had two 18U teams this year, so it wasn’t necessarily my roster that won,” Steed said. “We took all the kids who were primarily on the other roster, the guys who are 2017 grads, guys who can come back, plus three just-graduated pitchers. So it was all of our young guys who played, which was great because it gave me a chance to see them or for them to be around me.”

Heading into post-season play, Steed’s message to his players was simple, just to play to the best of their abilities and use that to be the best team on the field. He was impressed by what his squad managed to do, and how quickly they came together as a cohesive unit.

“For that group, it was just the way they came out,” Steed said. “We always ask them to just play hard. It’s pretty simple, not a whole lot of rocket science – let their talent take over, but be faster, quicker, more intent than the other team, and they showed that. It’s something they heard me use some different words about, how we approach it and all that, and quickly they bought in. I saw them this summer, we travelled together, so I got a chance to see them play, but they just clicked. We pitched well and the team can really swing it.”

Winning the league’s championship was the icing on the cake for Steed to seeing what the future holds for his Ontario Blue Jays, and having the success of the players from both his squad and the younger team as they mingled.

“It’s great, and in the first year in the league, I thought the whole year went well for our entire organization,” Steed said. “And then to just cap the year off going undefeated [in playoffs] was a huge them. For them being able to manage six games in four days, and three nines in three days, I was pretty proud of them. They represented us very well.”

The program’s 16U team led by Sean Travers also won their division of the CPBL, giving the Ontario Blue Jays a clean sweep of championships at the highest two levels of the loop, and making a couple of coaches very proud of both their players and their staff.

“I’m ecstatic for the program and the Ontario Blue Jays,” Steed said. “It says a lot about not just Sean and myself but our entire coaching staff. My guys who are with me, [assistant coaches] Kevin Mitchell and Milt Nikkel and Lawrence Collymore, without those guys and without Sean’s staff and the 15U coaches and the 16U staff, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing. It’s a compliment to those guys as well.”

Added Travers: “It’s a testament to all the players and all the families, and how much work the coaches put in. This is not by accident. The coaches, the families, the players all put in an incredible effort and make incredible sacrifices, and to win them is kind of the reward for that.”

Happy with the way the inaugural season in the CPBL went, and certainly with how it ended, Steed and the Ontario Blue Jays are looking forward to more as the circuit progresses.

“The CPBL was great in its first year,” he said. “There were no hiccups, nothing like that. From a competitive standpoint, it forced my guys to come out and compete every day. You really couldn’t take any innings off, which we look for, especially for their development and moving on with our 18s going into college.

“It pushed them to compete every day. Obviously with a new league there are certain things, the all-star game was a great idea and unfortunately mother nature didn’t let that happen, and then having the league tournament is an added bonus we haven’t had over the last couple years.”