Tag: 17U

15U, 16U and 17U Canadian Premier Baseball League playoffs set to start

Following championships at the youngest and oldest levels of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, with the Ontario Blue Jays taking the 18U crown and the Great Lake Canadians Black 14U squad earning a trophy, the league will see its next winners crowned at the 15U, 16U and 17U levels at the end of this week and over the upcoming weekend.

The 17U event is set to begin on Thursday and run until Saturday, with Sunday to be utilized if a rain date is needed. All 17U games will take place between the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys and the Field of Dreams in Dorchester. Six teams will face a double-elimination format to see who will leave champions of the 2019 season after the Ontario Blue Jays Travers squad finished atop the regular season leaderboard.

The league’s 16U postseason play will take place over the same set of days, between Rivergrove Park in Mississauga and Stuart Burnett Field in Aurora, hosted by the Ontario Astros and the Ontario Blue Jays. At the 16U level, eight teams will battle through the double-elimination format to find a champion, after the Great Lake Canadians finished atop the standings at the end of the regular season.

At the 15U level, playoffs will begin on Wednesday and run through to Friday, with Saturday as an alternate date if necessary because of weather. Games will also be played at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as well as at the Field of Dreams, in addition to Citywide Sports Complex in London. The 15U champion will be crowned out of eight teams at the level, with the Great Lake Canadians Black squad coming out on top of the regular season standings.

As a reminder, the CPBL bylaws will be followed for all games. Matchups will be seven innings in length, and limited to two-and-a-half hours, with extra innings permitted within the time limitations. The higher seeded squad in the league standings will be the home team throughout the playoffs. The run rule remains in effect for the entire tournament.

If a game is tied as time expires, the international tie-breaker rule will come into effect. Each team will start their half of the inning with the previous two batters from the inning prior on first and second base with none out.

Games will run ahead of schedule when and wherever possible, and we wish the best of luck to all players and teams participating in the upcoming event.

Toronto Mets 17U Orange squad captures program’s first CPBL championship

In the third season of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the Toronto Mets organization captured its first championship when the 17U Orange squad took down the defending age-group champion Great Lake Canadians and secured the title on the second-to-last day of the season. 

After finishing in the middle of the league leaderboard through the regular season, the Mets Orange squad fed off of its more recent success in tournaments in the United States and took the trophy home after big wins against its Blue counterpart and the GLC team. 

“It was exciting,” Mets 17U manager Rich Leitch said. “It was the first one for our program, and then the 16U team won the next day, so it was a good weekend for us…We were confident going into the weekend and we had been on a pretty good roll. We had just come off of an 18-game winning streak down in the U.S. and we were playing really good baseball. 

“We got through our Blue team, and they’re a scrappy bunch who have played us tough all year, and they play hard. Then we had to beat GLC twice in Dorchester, which we knew was going to be a tough task, but we were confident in the there guys we had going. Our three starting pitchers in the last weekend, Nick Manias, Curtis March and Jake Rogers – I believe they were a combined 27-1 on the season – so we had a lot of confidence in our starting pitching, and we had some guys who were really starting to swing the bats well. 

“So we were confident, but we knew it was going to be a grind to get through it.” 

Despite the grind, hoisting the CPBL trophy at the end of a successful season was fun for everyone involved. 

“This was probably the most enjoyable year I ever had coaching,” Leitch said. “I can’t say enough about the kids. They essentially did everything we asked of them, from the first day of the fall last year until 10 o’clock on Saturday night [when the championship was won]. I was happy for them.

“Obviously the coach’s ego comes into play and I want to take credit for it, but 100 per cent of the credit goes to the players and the work they put in. They did a fantastic job and they’re all super kids. They’re a pleasure to be around and I couldn’t have been happier for them. The winning is one thing, but I was happiest for the kids. I was really proud of the way they responded.” 

Not long after the Mets 17U Orange squad sealed the deal, the club’s 16U Orange squad secured a title of its own at the younger age group, bringing home a second trophy to the Out of the Park Sports clubhouse to cap off another successful season. 

“The last couple of years, we’ve really tried to take a synergistic approach to our development plan,” Leitch said. “We’ve gone away from teams practicing separately and we’ll bring in all the kids for position-specific stuff. Our 16U guys are working with our 18U guys and they see how it gets done, and we’re fortunate to have some great players in the program to show them. We have guys like Daniel Carinci, Tyler Black, and an 18U guy like Denzel Clarke working with our 16U guys, and it shows them where they can go and where the hard work will lead them. 

“It’s unfortunate that our 18U team had a couple injuries because I think that would have been an interesting development. But for us it shows, especially at the younger age groups, with the 16U and 17U teams we’re doing the right thing and developing these guys in the right manner. 

“I’m really looking forward to next year because we’re going to have a strong group again. It’s unfortunate to see the season end each year but we are looking forward to getting it going again in the first week of September, and starting our fall season for next year.” 

Great Lake Canadians 17U squad crowned CPBL champions

The Great Lake Canadians have taken the crown, and are the second champions of the Canadian Premier Baseball League in the circuit’s second season, shutting out the reigning-champion Ontario Blue Jays 18U squad 5-0 to win the 18U championship.

Fighting through the playoff weekend, the Canadians faced Team Ontario in their first matchup on the final day of competition, advancing with their first shutout win of the day. Griffin Hassall threw all seven innings in the semi-final, allowing five hits, walking one and striking out six Team Ontario batters to help his team into the championship. Jacob Douglas followed with seven strong frames of his own in the final, allowing five Blue Jays hits, walking one and fanning one to make it official.

“We played Team Ontario the first game, and Hassall threw a gem, and then it was the 18U OBJ team and Douglas threw an absolute gem,” GLC 17U manager Jeff Helps said. “We definitely had some players who, if they performed, we were going to give ourselves a chance. Anytime players perform to the best of their abilities, you give yourself a pretty good chance to win, and that’s kind of how this final weekend played out for us.”

The win followed a regular season that saw the squad finish fifth in the overall standings with an 11-8 record before playoffs began and before they caught fire at the end of the year.

“This was a team that started off pretty hot actually,” Helps said. “Our opening weekend against the Fieldhouse Pirates, we started off hot. Then we had some ebbs and flows throughout the year, and the team has really been playing well the last few weeks, especially in the States in our American tournaments. We were almost kind of setting the tone for heading into this week. The boys were playing pretty well, and then finished off the year playing the best ball they did all season.”

Throughout the year, Helps was proud to see his team’s successes and growth, both on and off the field.

“It’s hard to pick one thing that was most impressive about this group,” the 17U manager said. “The pitching staff was pretty impressive. We had 14 innings of scoreless baseball on the biggest day of the year. But it was their resilience. They didn’t get too high, didn’t get too low, and they stayed focused on what they needed to do, and didn’t get too worried about other players and other situations. They just focused on the task at hand.

“It was pretty impressive to see when they mature that way throughout the year, and then put it together. I don’t even think they realized how well they could play together when they played the game the right way.”

With everything on the line throughout the playoff weekend and into the championship matchup, the Canadians played their best baseball together at the right time, and left the field gratified.

“Like any group, we had ups and downs, but the season was pretty satisfying,” Helps said. “We definitely had some discussions throughout the year, whether it was myself or the other GLC staff, trying to get them to understand and develop and grow, obviously as baseball players but also as people. It was pretty fun to watch them celebrate the win. It was a pretty neat feeling for myself and the rest of us to watch them do what they did.”

With several players from the championship group returning to join Great Lake’s 18U squad next season, Helps is hoping that the win drives them to work even harder until they can get started again, and find even better results next year.

“We’ll get a few of those guys coming back for sure,” he said. “It’s probably exciting for them to get to that point and win, and when you get a taste of winning, you want to do it again. Hopefully that helps to drive them through the fall and into the off-season, to get them ready for next year.”

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.”