Tag: Brad McElroy

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.”

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.”