Tag: 18U

Ontario Blue Jays secure 2019 18U Canadian Premier Baseball League title

The Canadian Premier Baseball League has a new champion at the 18U level, with the Ontario Blue Jays coming out on top in the fourth season of the circuit to capture the trophy at the highest level.

After a slow start to the year, the Blue Jays surged through the end of the season. They won their final eight games of the CPBL regular season and tore through the playoff weekend, defeating the Ontario Astros, Great Lake Canadians and Toronto Mets to seal the championship victory.

“It’s always been a good group,” OBJ 18U manager Joe Ellison said. “They did well at 17U and moving ahead to us at 18U, they had a good fall. We started rough — I don’t think that’s a surprise to anybody — we were 2-8 to start off the year, but they bought into what we were preaching all year and by the end of it, they came out the team they were supposed to be at the beginning. Sometimes it just takes a little bit longer to get going.”

The biggest factor in getting the team going — on its way to the league title — was the leadership it had and the way its players rallied around it.

“We have a lot of guys who have been in our program for five years, and some for even six years in the cases of Lukas Barry and Blake Buckle,” Ellison said. “It was guys like that who the team rallied around when we were struggling.

“Buckle had a team meeting and pulled everybody aside and got us going back in the right direction. That was one of the biggest parts of it, having those senior leadership guys to be able to say, ‘This is the way we do things, and this is not how it should be, and this is how it needs to be,’ and that’s how it got done.”

The Blue Jays earned their way to the winners’ circle after defeating the Astros and Canadians in their first two games of the postseason tournament. They then played back-to-back-to-back games against the Mets, defeating the Toronto squad in their first attempt, dropping the second, and securing the trophy with an 8-5 win.

“I couldn’t be more happy,” the 18U OBJ manager said. “A lot of hard work goes into these teams, especially at the 18U level, and the 18U program has been something that we’ve really wanted to improve on the last couple of years.

“Finally to have it win a championship and get back to where it should be is really exciting for our program, and exciting for myself, the players, and the whole coaching staff.”

As the season continues south of the border for the Blue Jays this summer, the organization couldn’t be more excited about the competition and calibre of play the CPBL provided throughout the year at the 18U level.

“It’s huge for us,” Ellison said. “The addition of metal bats this year made it a little more exciting, definitely more of an offensive league this year. It challenged our pitchers and our position players to be much better and to take care of the baseball.

“For us, our next stop is to Flint, Michigan for the Connie Mack World Series qualifier, and to go in on a high note and in a really good spot as a team, I’m excited.”

Winning the league championship was the icing on the cake for a Blue Jays’ squad that showed a no-quit attitude all year long, and was truly an entire team effort come to fruition on Sunday.

“I go back to the leadership guys, the guys who have been around the block, who I really leaned on  to help right the ship with our 18U program,” Ellison said. “They did that, and I really couldn’t be any more proud of those guys and the team as a whole. Everybody contributed something throughout the year.

“Obviously when you get off to the start we did, the wheels could have come off really easily, but the guys pulled together and everybody played a role. Even though they might not have been in the championship game on Sunday, everyone did something this year to help us win and to get to where we were to give us that opportunity.”

18U playoffs set to get underway this weekend

With many regular season games left to play at the younger levels, the Canadian Premier Baseball League is set to head into postseason play at the highest age group in the circuit, with 18U playoff games getting underway beginning on Friday.

Games on Friday are set to begin at both the Field of Dreams in Dorchester and at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, with matchups continuing throughout the weekend in Dorchester and hosted by the Great Lake Canadians. Six teams will be represented at the 18U level, one from each of the Fieldhouse Pirates, Great Lake Canadians, Ontario Astros, Ontario Blue Jays, Ontario Nationals and Toronto Mets organizations. Playoffs will be played in a double-elimination format.

The regular season saw the Toronto Mets finish atop the 18U leaderboard with an 18-4 record and a late surge, with the Mets winning 10 straight games to finish the regular season and head into playoffs with some momentum. Last year’s regular season and playoff champion at the 18U level, the Great Lake Canadians, finished second in regular-season standings at 16-5 — one-and-a-half games out of first place — and were followed by the Ontario Blue Jays, at 13-10 and five-and-a-half games behind the leaders.

CPBL bylaws will be followed for all games, and each matchup will be seven innings in length. The higher seed in the league standings from the regular season will be the home team throughout the championship. Run rules remain in effect for the entire tournament. Each game has a two-and-a-half-hour time limit, and regular extra innings are permitted during that time. If there is still a tie game at that mark, the international tie breaker procedure will come into effect, and each team will start with the previous two batters on first and second base with none out.

Games will run ahead of schedule where and whenever possible.

Great Lake Canadians take 18U title for program’s third CPBL championship

After setting a new standard for the most experienced players in the Great Lake Canadians program, with the first-ever tournament win on American soil at the 18U level, and beyond becoming regular-season champions and finishing the year atop the Canadian Premier Baseball League leaderboard, the 18U squad’s season culminated with a championship victory at the highest level of the circuit. 

The Canadians cruised through the playoffs, with an early-round bye because of their position to finish the regular season, and won their way to a title, bringing the 18U trophy back to London after notching their final victory in Scarborough. 

“We got a bye for leading the regular season, so we ended up playing the Toronto Mets in the first game,” GLC 18U manager Adam Stern said. “We thought they were probably one of the tougher offensive clubs that we would face, and it was a good game. They had us late, and then we clawed a few runs. They had a good pitching performance, so they were one of the tougher opponents for us, and they’d had our number early in the season. 

“We won that game and then we played the Fieldhouse Pirates, and it was another good game and ended up being 1-0. It was well pitched on both sides, and that brought us through to the finals, where we would have to be beat twice [to ultimately lose the championship], and then Fieldhouse made their way through to the finals as well, so it was a good competition at the end.” 

With the success the Great Lake squad had found throughout the entire summer, expectations were set at a high bar for the team as it headed into the post-season. 

“I knew going into the season, and as a staff we knew, that we had a good group of guys out there that was built to win,” Stern said. “We had a [pitching] staff that was going to throw strikes, and we had a very well-mixed offensive group. So we had high expectations going in, and we knew that we had a lot of good baseball players on the team. But in the end, they had to go out there and perform, that’s the name of the game, and they did.” 

With the successful season in the rearview mirror, and after many goodbyes were shared among the players heading off to an array of colleges for the fall, the team’s manager had an incredible sense of pride in his players and the year they put together. 

“All along, this team has been a pleasure to coach,” Stern said. “These guys are a resilient group. They play well together, and whether it was pitching or offensive, but they picked each other up if one side wasn’t doing it. Really all year these guys competed. It is obviously a testament to them, the record they had – only losing seven games all year is not easy to do – and it speaks volumes to the quality of the kids on the field.” 

Great Lake’s 18U championship followed CPBL title victories for the organization’s 14U Red and 15U Red teams, after seeing all of the program’s seven teams make it into the semi-final round of league playoffs, and five of them moving into the finals.

“It was an exciting weekend,” Stern said. “Obviously we were up in Toronto not getting to see everything happening [in the other playoff series], but we get to work with these kids during the off-season, and we get to see them during the year, so you see a culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication from the players’ standpoint and the coaches’ standpoint. 

“We couldn’t be more proud of the group of players, and the teams that didn’t win it, they had their own successes. It’s a game that comes down to getting a big hit here or a big pitch there, but all seven teams performed at or above our expectations.” 

Canadians 18U squad look to take regular-season success into playoffs

With playoffs about to start, the final weekend of the Canadian Premier Baseball League season set to begin, and victors of the regular season looking to try to keep their winning going into the post-season, the Great Lake Canadians 18U squad is hoping to do just that. 

The Great Lake organization felt it had a strong team as it began the CPBL season this summer, but the squad that finished with a 20-4 record, four games ahead of its closest competitor, and with just one loss in its last 10 games exceeded the high expectations it began with. 

“Coach [Kirk] Barclay and I had big expectations for these guys leading into the season,” GLC 18U manager Adam Stern said. “We thought that we had a perfect mix of guys on the mound, position players who are a little more dynamic, guys who could play multiple positions, we had speed, and we had defence. To be honest, as much as we expected from the pitching staff, they actually exceeded our expectations. Guys have really stepped up and they’ve been really competitive on the mound.” 

With all of its success, the Canadians 18U team also winning plenty of games south of the border throughout the year, the thing that most impressed its manager was the atmosphere the players created for themselves to play in. 

“These guys are a resilient group of players,” Stern said. “They never hit the panic button, and they play well together as a team. You’re starting to see a culmination of guys playing together for a few years and really coming together. These guys have gelled really well together, and it’s been one of those good team dynamics, and it’s been a real positive for this group.” 

Great Lake topped a regular-season leaderboard among six total teams, with the Fieldhouse Pirates not far behind with a 16-8 record, and the Ontario Blue Jays in third, finishing with 13 wins and 10 losses. 

“Any game in the CPBL, you’ve got to show up to play,” the Canadians skipper said. “We told our guys all the time that we were giving away a few wins here and there, which is what happens when you don’t finish the deal. You’ve got to come in ready to play all the teams. We had some rainouts early in the season, where we lost a few games too, but with this group there were never any big blowouts. They really had to step up on the mound, and our guys knew that any team could beat you on any day.” 

As they prepare to begin their quest for a playoff victory, the GLC 18U team understands that they have to continue to face and overcome the challenges that the league presents, and all of its players have their eyes on one last prize before they venture off to an array of fall destinations, and looking to seal the deal. 

“We’ve been in this spot before,” Stern said. “Where we’ve had a good team during the regular season and then we just didn’t piece it all together at the end. Obviously in the format the tournament is, you’ve got to be hot at the right time, and when it’s a double-elimination format, you could get upset at any time. Really, we preach that we’ve got to finish the deal here. You’ve got to grout, put the regular season on the back burner, and compete like it’s a tournament because if you lose two, you go home, and we’re not looking to do that.” 

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.”

18U schedule set for the inaugural CPBL season

Saturday, April 30 & Sunday, May 1 Team Ontario vs. Mets 17U
  Mets 18U vs. OBJ 18U
  FH Pirates vs. GLC 18U
  GLC 17U vs. Nationals
  OBJ 17U   OFF
Monday, May 2 to Friday, May 6 OBJ 17U vs. OBJ 18U
  Mets 18U vs. Team Ontario
  GLC 18U vs. Nationals
Saturday, May 7 & Sunday, May 8 Team Ontario vs. FH Pirates
  GLC 17U vs. OBJ 17U
  OBJ 18U vs. GLC 18U
  Nationals vs. Mets 17U
  Mets 18U   OFF
Monday, May 9 to Thursday, May 12 Team Ontario vs. OBJ 17U
  Mets 17U vs. Mets 18U
  OBJ 18U vs. Nationals
Saturday, May 14 & Sunday, May 15 OBJ 18U vs. GLC 18U
  Team Ontario vs. Mets 18U
  FH Pirates vs. GLC 17U
  Nationals vs. OBJ 17U
  Mets 17U   OFF
Monday, May 16 to Friday, May 20 OBJ 18U vs. Mets 18U
  Team Ontario vs. Nationals
  Mets 18U vs. FH Pirates
Saturday, May 21 & Sunday, May 22 OBJ 18U vs. FH Pirates
  Team Ontario vs. Nationals
  OBJ 17U vs. Mets 18U
  Mets 17U vs. GLC 17U
  GLC 18U   OFF
Monday, May 23 to Friday, May 27 GLC 18U vs. GLC 17U
  Mets 17U vs. OBJ 17U
  OBJ 18U vs. Team Ontario
Saturday, May 28 & Sunday, May 29 Team Ontario vs. OBJ 18U
  Mets 17U vs. FH Pirates
  GLC 17U vs. Mets 18U
  OBJ 17U vs. GLC 18U
  Nationals   OFF
Monday, May 30 to Friday, June 3 GLC 17U vs. Nationals
  Mets 17U vs. OBJ 17U
Saturday, June 4 & Sunday, June 5 GLC 17U vs. Mets 17U
  Mets 18U vs. FH Pirates
  OBJ 17U vs. OBJ 18U
  Nationals vs. GLC 18U
  Team Ontario   OFF
Monday, June 6 to Friday, June 10 Mets 18U vs. OBJ 18U
  Mets 17U vs. OBJ 17U
  Team Ontario vs. Nationals
Saturday, June 11 & Sunday, June 12 Team Ontario vs. OBJ 17U
  Mets 17U vs. Mets 18U
  FH Pirates vs. Nationals
  GLC 18U   OFF
  GLC 17U   OFF
  OBJ 18U   OFF
Saturday, June 18 & Sunday, June 19 Team Ontario vs. GLC 17U
  GLC 18U vs. Mets 18U
  Mets 17U vs. OBJ 17U
  OBJ 18U vs. Nationals
  FH Pirates   OFF
Thursday, June 23 to Sunday, June 26 PLAYOFFS   PLAYOFFS