Tag: 14U

Great Lake’s Black squad secures championship at CPBL’s 14U level

From the start of the season, Matt Bowden, the manager of the Great Lake Canadians 14U Black squad, believed that if his squad played to the best of its ability throughout the year, it could be poised to secure another championship at the youngest level of the Canadian Premier Baseball League.

“At the beginning of the year, I thought for sure we would be a good team, especially having a lot of guys who were returning at 14U within the program,” Bowden said. “Looking at our team from the start, I thought we would have the pitching to definitely get deep into tournaments and to keep us in a lot of games and that was definitely something that came through throughout the season for us.”

Great Lake’s 14U Black team performed on all sides of the ball during the year, helping the squad to the top of the regular season leaderboard before capturing the trophy to cap it off.

“Offensively, we improved throughout the year, put together a lot of good at-bats and really grinded out at-bats and were able to push runs across that way,” the Canadians manager said. “Defensively we were solid, made the plays that we needed to, and it allowed us to stay in games and eventually come out on top.”

In Great Lake’s first game of the 14U postseason, it took on the Ontario Nationals team, securing a victory before matching up against Team Ontario for its second win. For the Canadians’ third win of the playoff tournament and for the championship, they played the Fieldhouse Pirates in back-to-back games, beating them twice.

“In the semi-finals against Fieldhouse, Trevor Syer pitched probably one of the best 14U games I’ve seen in the last couple of years,” Bowden said. “He used three pitches and was able to mow down a good-hitting lineup. Our offence was steady throughout, a lot of good at-bats finding ways to cash runners when we had them in scoring position.

“In the last game against Fieldhouse again, it was a complete team effort. All 14 guys on the team found a way to get in and contribute. I was really impressed by Ashton Graff-Rowe at the top of our order. He’s always finding a way to set the tone and really kickstart our offence there for the guys in the middle to do some damage. The bottom of our order also grinded out good at-bats, finding ways to get on base to roll that lineup over to the top again.”

Sealing the deal in the last win of the season, the elation of Bowden’s team spread to its coaching staff and was enjoyable for all involved.

“It was awesome,” he said. “Throughout the year they experienced a lot of success and they hadn’t really been rewarded with the kind of championships they were looking for, so to come through at the end and see it come to fruition and finish out on top was awesome to see. The group really bonded well together and you could tell they wanted to win not only for themselves but for each other.”

Among the characteristics that most impressed the skipper of Great Lake’s 14U Black team, there were two things that really stood out as the season progressed.

“Our pitching was something that we definitely really leaned on,” Bowden said. “Our starters were really able to give us good innings, get deep into their starts and keep us in games that way. Whether our bats were on or they were struggling a little bit, we felt we could lean on our arms to keep us close and keep us in games.

“The other thing that at least toward the end of the year that started to show up a little bit was the hitters starting to play selfless baseball, finding ways to move runners over or cash runners when we needed them. They really bought into the team game and didn’t care as much about the individual accolades, which was nice to see.”

The championship at the 14U level was one of four trophies the Great Lake program secured among the five total CPBL championships, also winning at the 15U, 16U and 17U levels, with the Ontario Blue Jays coming out on top of the 18U division.

“It just cements that this is one of the top programs, not only for development but as a perennial program throughout the country and throughout the province that is here to compete, here to win,” Bowden said. “At the end of the day, those weekends where we had four of five championships really showed the strength that we have in our program.”

Great Lake Canadians 14U Red squad wins CPBL championship at youngest level

At the youngest level of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the circuit champions from the second season held on in the third year for back-to-back titles, with the Great Lake Canadians Red squad taking down the Ontario Astros in the final for a second straight 14U season victory. 

As the youngest team in the league, the GLC Red squad finished the third season of the CPBL atop the leaderboard with a 18-3 record and took its successes straight into the playoffs, recording four straight wins – against the Ontario Nationals, GLC Black, and then two against the Ontario Astros – to secure the title.

“The first game we started out kind of slow actually,” GLC 14U Red manager Brad McElroy said. “We scored four runs in four innings and then we added six in the fifth for a mercy, which saved our pitching. The next game we played Great Lake Black, which had just beat us in the [Grand Park] tournament for a big win…We had [Zach] Fishback doing what he did all year – he threw strikes, changed speeds and kept them scoreless – and we manufactured some runs. 

“The next game we played Team Ontario and the last time we played them, we lost against them in the GLC [Canada Day Classic] tournament, so it was a redemption game for us. We blew it open right at the start and just kept it going. The story of that game was [Nolan] McCrossin, who had two errors in the first two innings and it was a tie game and it was a little bit of a nail biter, and then we had the bases loaded and he came up, and first pitch he hit a grand slam. From then on, it was our game.

“In the final we got Team Ontario again and they were pretty depleted…Six or seven of our eight runs were all with two outs in that game, and we were able to win it. Pitching was great for us in the playoffs, the bats came alive, and we just clicked. It went well, and we limited the damage.” 

From the beginning of the off-season to the final weekend of the CPBL, McElroy got to see the evolution of his young players, and couldn’t be more excited for their futures. 

“I’m really proud of them,” the GLC 14U Red manager said. “It was a lot of hard work, and there were a lot of guys who stepped up and understood their roles, and went with it. Luke Beaton was our starting third baseman in the playoffs and he played good defence for us and put some balls in play to drive some runs in. 

“[Nolan] Caudle stepped up and was our starting second baseman. He was making plays for us throughout the year and he earned that spot. And then in the middle of the order, those were the guys. You get to them and if anybody else is on base, we’re scoring them. 

“So I was really happy with the team. We played well throughout the year, and they put it together in the playoffs and it worked. It’s a testament to the whole Great Lake coaching staff – the work everybody puts in, indoors, in practices, through the winter. You see the growth from these kids and they’re all green and coming from other organizations and they want to learn and really get the most out of it. You see the biggest improvements and it’s exciting.” 

The excitement was shared by the members of the young squad, who were clearly elated when the final out of the last game of the CPBL season was made and they had a chance to hoist their trophy and celebrate a successful finish to a fantastic year. 

“That’s why I love coaching this age,” McElroy said. “The kids are so coachable and have so much fun. They want to learn, they love baseball, and they play with smiles on their faces…At 14, they’re in the Great Lake program for the first year and they’re sponges. They want to soak everything up, and with our coaching staff having so many years of professional experience to pour into all these kids, it’s just outstanding. It’s pretty special.” 

GLC 14U Red squad finishes atop CPBL regular season standings at youngest level

The Canadian Premier Baseball League’s regular season has come to an end, and the circuit now officially has regular-season champions at all of its levels, with one of the youngest squads in the league coming out on top of the youngest age group. 

At the 14U level, the Great Lake Canadians Red team topped all others, finishing the season with an 18-3 record, more than three games ahead of the next-closest team in the standings. The squad was one that the program felt would find success right from the start, but the organization still wasn’t entirely sure of what it was capable of. 

“Right from the start, we knew these kids could hit,” GLC 14U Red manager Brad McElroy said. “We didn’t know how they were going to pitch or how they were going to field but everybody with the Great Lake organization knew we had kids who could hit. But at the start, we weren’t really hitting that well, just because of timing and kids were nervous. We have a very quiet team, so a lot of guys were almost afraid to make mistakes, and afraid to swing at a fastball in a fastball count. They didn’t want to get out, so we had to get that out of their systems. 

“We pitched really well at the start of the year and went with that, and then our bats came alive. The story of this team is that if we can play defence, we can win. The games we’ve lost, we’ve fallen off and made a lot of errors, so pitching and hitting has been huge for this team. And the pitching isn’t overpowering, we just don’t walk people. That’s been our philosophy – go after people, and if you get hit, who cares?”

Throughout the duration of the season, the thing that most impressed the team’s skipper was the squad’s demeanour, how they handled themselves on and off the field, and the attitude they took into every matchup. 

“What I really like about this team is how quiet they are,” McElroy said. “I’ve never had a team this quiet. Guys don’t joke around much, and maybe that’s because of me, but they just go out there and play. It’s literally like work and they’re just getting the job done. It’s a quiet team that’s also really good, which I really like because they don’t tell me, they show me. They go out and play hard.”

Great Lake’s Red team finished atop a leaderboard with eight other teams, just ahead of the Ontario Blue Jays, who finished with a 15-7 record, and the Ontario Astros, who ended the season at 11-6. The Canadians’ Black squad finished in fourth, with a 13-10 regular-season record. 

“The competition in the CPBL is the best it’s been,” McElroy said. “The first year we played in it, we were undefeated in the regular season, and last year our record wasn’t that good and we played against better teams, and this year teams are even better. There’s a lot of good competition.”

After winning nine of its last 10 regular-season games, the GLC Red team will look to keep the winning going into the post-season. Its manager believes there’s just one thing they need to do in order to find success in the league’s playoffs. 

“Defence,” McElroy said. “Honestly, we just have to play our game and not mentally collapse in the field. If we can do what we’ve done, pitching-wise – throw strikes and attack the zone – and swing the bat like we can, I don’t think any team can beat us.”

Tri-City Giants look for repeated success in CPBL

A staple at the youngest level of the Canadian Premier Baseball League through its first two seasons, the Tri-City Giants have added to the fold throughout the off-season are excited for what more is to come in the third year of the circuit. 

Winning two championships in the inaugural season of the CPBL and continuing to embrace everything it has to offer, the Giants are proud to be a part of the league and have been happy with everything it has provided their program so far. 

“It’s been great,” Giants president Jeff Young said. “We’ve obviously seen a better level of competition, which is what we wanted when we started the Giants program. We’re entering our fourth season now, and when we started the program that was the whole idea, to expose the kids to a better level of competition day in and day out. 

“The CPBL has definitely been able to provide that. That’s the biggest benefit. The league has done a great job of being organized and keeping everybody on the same page, and looking out for the best interests of all the kids. It’s been refreshing to see a league developed to help the kids pursue their baseball dreams, whatever they may be, collegiately, professionally, OUA, and they’ve provided that conduit for them so that’s been great to see.” 

During the most recent winter, the Giants organization expanded to bring additional teams into the fold, and will head into the third CPBL season with squads playing at both the 14U and 15U levels. During the off-season, the program also utilized a brand new facility in the Waterloo Region to help its players get ready for the upcoming season. 

“We’ve grown this off-season,” Young said. “We were a single team back in 2015 and now in our fourth year, we’ve grown to field teams ranging from 11U team all the way up to 17U. We have two teams in the CPBL. 

“And we’ve had the benefit this off-season of moving into a new facility here in Kitchener, The Athlete Factory, and that’s been phenomenal. It’s really been a benefit for the development of our players. It allows them access to the batting tunnels, pitching mounds, gymnasium space, and workout centre, year round. It’s provided the flexibility for our players to get their work in while continuing with their winter sports or activities outside of baseball.”

Excited to get its teams out on the field to show what they can do and how they use everything they gained throughout the winter, the Giants program looks forward to more of the same of what they’ve experienced in the CPBL. 

“We just want to continue to build on the success that we’ve had with the program over the years,” Young said. “We’ve been fortunate, whether it’s the CPBL or other leagues, or tournaments we’ve been in, to be successful on the field. We certainly want to continue those successes, and we want to continue to develop the players.”

As Tri-City continues to expand its program and help build futures for its players, Young is hoping the league is a conduit for success both on the field and off. 

“We recognize that for a lot of these kids it’s not just about their baseball dreams,” he said. “We certainly want to encourage them and give them the opportunity to continue to pursue those baseball dreams but at the same time provide an environment for them to be successful in other sports, other interests they may have, and most importantly their academic pursuits that will stay with them throughout their lives long after baseball.”

Young Great Lake squad takes championship at 14U level

To close out the second Canadian Premier Baseball League season, the youngest team took the top prize at the youngest age group, with the Great Lake Canadians Red squad defeating the Tri-City Giants to win the 14U crown.

Great Lake’s Red squad brought together the youngest roster in the division, with a number of players eligible for the same age group next season. After a rough start to the year, the young Canadians came together as a team and began to take everything they learned and put it together on the field.

“From the beginning, we were basically undersized and overmatched,” GLC 14U Red manager Brad McElroy said. “We had a lot of young guys, a lot of small guys, considered maybe weaker because of the strength at that age. We had the older 14U team where a lot of the kids were turning 15, and returning from an undefeated regular season last year, so we were thinking okay, we might not be able to compete with them and the other teams in the league.

“In the first two series of the season, we won one game, maybe two, and we were getting mercied like crazy. Then throughout the year, our team really bought into playing the game the right way and focusing on winning one inning at a time, and they’re ballplayers. They ended up really catching on, and through a lot of help from every coach in the organization at practices, they bought in and we became a good team by the end.”

To finish off the regular season, the Canadians Red team won nine of its last 10 games and was coming out of a strong tournament across the border in Indianapolis as it looked to jump into the 14U playoff picture. Though McElroy had high expectations for his young squad, he was still in awe of what they accomplished by the end of its post-season run.

“The first game, we played Team Ontario Red and that was the most nervous I was, because we were ‘supposed’ to win that game,” Great Lake’s 14U manager said. “Our next game was against the first seed, the Ontario Blue Jays. They came out and were winning 7-0 and we ended up coming back and beating them 12-10 after we were down by four runs in the last inning. The next game we played Tri-City, who had a really good team and they ended up mercying us. We were winning 6-0 and they came back and beat us 17-6.

“So we became the second seed in the first pool and played Fieldhouse, who beat Great Lake Canadians Black to be the top seed in the other pool. That was our semifinal matchup  and for some reason, all year, we’ve had their number. We were already 3-1 against Fieldhouse, and the game they beat us they won 23-2 in the third inning. We threw our ace, Caleb Clark, and it was his third time throwing against Fieldhouse and he threw really well, went five strong. They were winning 4-0 and we ended up coming back. We were still down by one in the last inning and we scored seven. Then we went to the finals, and Great Lake Canadians Black had lost to Tri-City, so it was a little disappointing because we were hoping to play them in the final, and instead we played Tri-City, who had already mercied us.

“It was honestly a great game of baseball. We kept the pedal to the metal and kept scoring runs periodically throughout each inning. We kept a good lead and they came back a t the end, but we had a big enough lead where we won 6-4. Lee Majerovits threw really well for us and then Kaden Gray came in and shut the door.”

While the squad’s final weekend of play was incredibly exciting for the young Canadians, McElroy was continually impressed by his team as the year went on, as he watched the progression they made as a group and the strides they took throughout the season.

“What most impressed me was the ability to learn, the drive of these kids wanting to learn and get better, and trying to prove other people wrong,” he said. “Basically the attitude was – even going into playoffs – we have nothing to lose. I’d rather be David versus Goliath, where everybody is looking at you as though there’s no way you can compete. It was no-pressure baseball, which was great. That was the attitude, to have fun and play every inning at a time, and focus on winning the inning….It was carefree and we played great baseball. They were just baseball players, loving the game, and they wanted to win and they did.”

Though McElroy was at the helm of the 14U championship-winning team, the victory was a credit to the organization and the melting pot of assistance and coaching they gained from everyone involved with the Great Lake program.

“This win for 14U Red was a complete Great Lake Canadians effort,” McElroy. “You have all the coaches in on all these kids where they’re working with them separately, taking them into the cages, you’ve got Jeff Helps on the infield, Chris Robinson with the catchers, me, Brock Kjeldgaard and Adam Stern with the outfielders, and Adam Arnold and Shane Davis with the pitchers, and Derek Bloomfield and Kirk Barclay helping out. It really paid off and helped these kids. When you have four to eight coaches at each practice, it shows.”

Great Lake’s victory at the 14U level was one of three Canadians wins to finish off the CPBL season, joining the 17U Canadians, who took the crown in the 18U division, and the 15U squad winning the first title at that age level.

“It’s funny because it’s all about development with Great Lake obviously, but winning is part of it,” McElroy said. “If you’re just developing and all your teams are losing, how do you really say there’s development there? It goes hand in hand. Ultimately it’s not about winning, and our biggest goal is to get people scholarships. We want to get them to the next level…

“In  college when I played it was all about winning. The best players play and ultimately they don’t care if you’re going to get drafted because we need to win and that’s how we’re going to get talent for the next level. The pro side is kind of opposite where if you were drafted higher, you’re going to get more opportunities and it’s not really about winning, it’s all about development and what could maybe happen. We’re kind of in the middle where we really want to win but there’s also the development aspect.”


Giants add experienced arms as program moves forward

The Tri-City Giants have hired a pair of seasoned pitching instructors to join their organization for the season ahead, with Tyler Soucie and Rob Nixon beginning to work with the Giants pitching staff at all age groups starting in the fall.

“It shows our commitment to continuing to improve the quality of our organization each year,” said Jeff Young, the president of the Giants organization. “Having the opportunity to bring on two talented pitchers with NCAA and professional experience is an asset for our players in their continued development.”

Soucie is a native of Cambridge, Ont., who spent some of his collegiate years playing for the Division-I program with the highest number of Canadians year in and year out, the Canisius College Golden Griffins, with whom he won a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship. He currently plays for the Brantford Red Sox in the Intercounty Baseball League and was a 2015 IBL all-star selection, leading the team in saves and with a 1.66 ERA.

Nixon recently retired from professional baseball, where he was a farmhand in the Cleveland Indians organization. He spent four seasons in their minor league system after playing four years at Adelphi University, where he went 11-2 with a 1.43 ERA in his senior year.

The Giants recently completed their first season in the newly-formed Canadian Premier Baseball League, capturing the circuit’s championships at both the 12U and 13U levels, with a team also competing in the 14U division. This fall, the Tri-City program will expand to four teams, adding a squad at the 15U level.

​This article originally appeared on the Tri-City Giants website.

Fieldhouse Pirates take first CPBL 14U championship

In its inaugural season, the Canadian Premier Baseball League welcomed teams from seven programs and at five different age groups, with winners crowned at the three youngest divisions to end the month of June.

The Tri-City Giants finished as champions at both the 12U and 13U levels, with the Fieldhouse Pirates winning the 14U division in the circuit’s first year. Playoffs at the two highest age groups will finish their seasons at the end of July.

After finishing second in the regular season with an 11-6-2 record to a tough Great Lake Canadians squad that went undefeated and racked up 21 wins, the Fieldhouse Pirates completed their post-season run in Kitchener to come out victorious in their age bracket, reaping the benefits of the CPBL competition throughout the entire year.

“The competition our 14U team played at home, week in and week out, was incredible,” said Jimmy Richardson, director of player development for the Pirates program. “Having the opportunity to have our players compete against the best in the province at their age level has been a huge bonus to their overall development.

“The playoff tournament was intense. Every inning and every at-bat is magnified in a double-elimination tournament, and our guys were able to pull off a couple wins in one-run ball games against some good teams. The whole organization is proud of the way our 14s played and competed over the weekend, and it bodes well for our future.”

The 13U Giants held their reign atop the CPBL after going 16-1 in the regular season to finish in first place, and the 12U squad from the Tri-City area came out on top after finishing second in the regular season to the Ontario Blue Jays Naylor team.

“Our 12U team had a number of great matchups that enabled them to improve every weekend throughout the season,” said Jeff Young, the president of the executive board for the Giants. “This served them well as they headed into the championship weekend.

“Our 13U team, for the most part, cruised through the regular season. However, once the playoffs hit the intensity level increased and the games became much closer. Our 13s have a solid core, and came together as a unit after losing their opening game to run the table, capturing the championship.

“Both teams enjoyed being able to play a high level of baseball in front of their local family and friends to wrap up their CPBL seasons.”

Both organizations have been extremely proud of their squads and excited about the first year of the new league, and are looking forward to what more will come as both the circuit and their own programs progress, for all involved.

“The Giants are extremely proud of our championship 12U and 13U teams,” Young said. “Throughout the off-season we knew we had something special with these kids and they came together both on and off the field, which was a joy to watch throughout the season.”

Programs that participated in the inaugural CPBL season included not only the Giants, Pirates, Canadians and Ontario Blue Jays, but also the Toronto Mets, Ontario Nationals and Team Ontario.

14U Great Lake Canadians take undefeated season into playoffs

With the Canadian Premier Baseball League playoffs underway at the three youngest levels of play, one team stands out amongst the crowd for the season it had and what it did to get to the end point.

The 14U Great Lake Canadians squad put together an undefeated run that lasted throughout the entirety of the year, posting a 21-0-1 regular-season record, becoming the only team to accomplish such a feat and setting an incredible standard in the circuit’s inaugural season of play.

“This team gelled right from the beginning,” said Brad McElroy, the manager of the program’s 14U squad. “They seem to bring out the best in each other which makes it easy and comfortable for them to play together.”

Though they made it look easy at times, the Canadians showed their grit when they needed to and became a force to be reckoned with when challenges confronted them.

“We had a game in Toronto against the Ontario Blue Jays where we were down by three in the seventh and the guys buckled down, scored five in the inning, and held the other team off to win,” McElroy said. “That was when we really started to see the potential of this team. They pick each other up and love being at the field.

“As a coaching staff, we are very proud of these young men and are excited to see their future in baseball in the up-and-coming years.”

Setting the bar for teams in upcoming years of the CPBL, the 14U Great Lake squad also set an example for their entire program, and the coaching staff couldn’t be more excited for what their players accomplished but also for what more is to come from them.

“This is an exciting group of kids to be around,” said Chris Robinson, director of baseball operations for the GLC organization. “They play the game hard and the way we want all of our teams to play. They are a perfect example of Great Lake Canadians baseball. It’s exciting to think about this group, years down the road, and how good they can be.”

Two other teams came incredibly close and had similar success throughout the year, with the Tri-City Giants posting a 16-1 record at the 13U level and the Ontario Blue Jays 12U Naylor squad going 18-1-1 during their season, both finishing atop the standings among their respective age groups.

Playoffs have commenced for the 12U, 13U and 14U teams and will see their completion at the end of the weekend. At the 16U and 18U levels, makeup games will be played over the duration of the weekend and post-season play will begin at the end of July.