Tag: champions

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.”

Great Lake Canadians looking to build off of a successful CPBL campaign

Coming off of an incredibly successful season, with three Canadian Premier Baseball League championships and two tournament victories south of the border, the Great Lake Canadians organization is looking for much of the same and more as it heads into the fourth year of the circuit.

Taking the trophies for the second-straight year at the 14U, 15U and 18U levels of the CPBL, the Canadians added a 16U tournament win at the Kent State Invitational and an 18U victory at the Gene Bennett Classic, and all the while maintained the program’s focus on continued development and the progress of its players.

“It was a good year for us,” GLC director of baseball operations Chris Robinson said. “We were happy with how things went on and off the field. We continue to send guys off to school – some big schools and some good fits – and obviously on the field we had some success with three championships.

“We don’t ever really evaluate our success on winning championships but there’s something to be said for as you develop players, you want to develop the winning mentality. So we were really happy with how that went this year.”

Among the accomplishments of the program during the year, the highlight of last season for many of those involved with the organization was in seeing the success of the 18U squad and the season it was able to put together.

“We had some success down in the States, and throughout the league, we all talk collectively about how the league and the competition up here helps our success in the States,” Robinson said. “But we had a very, very special group of older guys this year. Not to take away from any of the other groups we’ve had but it was a very special group and a group that you might not see for a long time.

“It was the way they were wired, the way they went about their business, and obviously they were dominant on the field as well. So that for us was a real fun year, to watch those guys at the back end of their careers here with us, doing what they did.”

As the season came to an end, the Canadians planned their inaugural banquet – featuring ESPN and Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster Dan Shulman as the master of ceremonies, and with multiple big-league players including Pete Orr, Jamie Romak and GLC coaches Robinson and Adam Stern in attendance to honour the players – to open up the off-season before beginning another winter of development-focused training to gear up for the fourth CPBL season.

“Our first banquet was a success, and a really cool night as a staff to celebrate what the program has done,” Robinson said. “The off-season is status quo for us and it continues to be that way. We remind ourselves that there are no gimmicks, there’s no special pill, and it’s just a matter of continuing to develop players as we have in the past. That’s always at the forefront of our minds heading into any off-season.”

With another season about to get underway, Great Lake’s staff is excited for what the future holds and to see how the fourth year of the league unfolds on the field.

“I always like watching the kids develop from year to year,” Robinson said. “And now that we’ve been in it, we’ve seen our first group graduating college last year, and now you see the progression of kids over that course of the year.

“We have a really exciting group of 14U players this year, and we’ve always had good players at that younger level. This year, athletically it may be one of the more highly-anticipated groups we’ve ever had. We look forward to having athletes because we believe so strongly in what we do on the developmental side. So that will be a really fun group to get going and see how they progress, along with the rest of our teams and more familiar players.”

Great Lake also has a number of players committed to head to schools for the upcoming season, with Ryan Faragher off to Wabash Valley College, Noah Myers heading from Wabash to the University of South Carolina, Owen Diodati going to the University of Alabama, Tye Imeson off to Salem International University, Brian Zapp heading to Miami University and Eric Martin headed to Indiana State University.

Toronto Mets 16U Orange team caps off successful season with CPBL title

After going on an unbelievable regular-season run – including 20 straight victories – the Toronto Mets 16U Orange squad kept its success going into playoffs and came out on top as the champion of the 16U level of the Canadian Premier Baseball League. 

The Orange team opened CPBL post-season play with a matchup against its Blue organizational counterpart. After a win to start the tournament, the squad suffered its second loss of the entire season to the same team that defeated it earlier in the summer, the Ontario Nationals. A win against the Great Lake Canadians sent Orange into the finals, but in the double-elimination formatted event, it had to win two straight games against the Nationals to take home the trophy. 

“We started with our Blue team and they were up on us 5-2 in the fifth inning, and it didn’t look good,” Mets 16U Orange manager Darryl Reid said. “We looked like we were going to lose Game 1 and then we got a rhythm going and put together four or five hits in a row to win that game. Then we played the Nationals and they played really well…We couldn’t do anything. They caught everything, made all the plays, and they were really good that day.

“Then we finally got our [first] game against GLC. We didn’t want it to be in that spot but we had Drew Howard throw that game and he had nine strikeouts over five innings and was really good. He led us in that one. Then we were down 5-3 and came back in the next game against the Nationals, and had to beat them twice in the final…It was pretty exciting and pretty tense, and I didn’t think we were going to come back. It didn’t feel like that. 

“But the guys, I don’t know if they thought they were going to win, but they were very calm. It was a different vibe that I hadn’t seen from them throughout the year. Looking at it now, it was probably the confidence that they could come back.”

The second-to-last game of the year was the one that really sparked the Mets and gave them some momentum heading into the championship final. 

“The big game was the walkoff,”  Reid said. “Any time you walk off, it’s exciting, but they were really excited. This group, I don’t know if they’ll all play together next year and I think they all realized that and they wanted to win that championship. They were pretty excited. Listening to them talk about it afterward, that was one of their main goals. 

“We had our last practice the Wednesday before, and we told them that in our minds, they had a successful season, and it was up to them what they wanted. So I didn’t have one single pre-game speech for them, and it was one of those weekends where we gave it to them and let them do what they wanted with it.” 

Reid was especially excited about the way his team performed as an entire unit, giving him a chance to get everybody on the field and allowing each man on the roster to make a contribution in that final weekend of CPBL play. 

“I kept saying to them that everybody would be involved and we were,” the Orange manager said. “We had five games and five completely different lineups, and we completely unloaded our bench in the final game with guys pinch running and pinch hitting. It sounds cliche, but literally everybody had an impact on the final, and it showed the flexibility that we had with them, and being able to move guys everywhere. 

“It was kind of cool to say that it was a team game, and mean it, and then have it actually happen. It was a cool way to win it.”

The Mets manager was very proud to see his team work together and want to succeed and share in the successes of their teammates as well as accomplish their own goals along the way. 

“In a new era of kids, where it can be a little bit individually driven for the success of where they are going to school or to what showcase and that stuff, this group – at least the way they act – they like each other and work together,” Reid said. “It was refreshing and as close to the old school team-first mentality as you can get now.

“These guys are kind of a hybrid, where they are all individually driven, which they should be, but they really wanted to win for each other, so that part was pretty cool.” 

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.” 

Ontario Blue Jays Steed named regular-season champs of inaugural 17U season

With the third Canadian Premier Baseball League season in the books, the calibre of competition continues to grow and accomplishments within the circuit continue to gain the utmost significance. 

After a tight race for the top of the leaderboard at the newly-implemented 17U level in its inaugural year, the Ontario Blue Jays squad led by manager Mike Steed edged out the rest with a 19-7 season, just one game ahead of its closest opponent – and organizational counterpart, the Ontario Blue Jays 17U team led by Sean Travers – and is recognized as the regular-season champion of its division. 

“Basically what led to our success was our starting pitching, led by Lukas Barry and Brandon Deans,” Steed said. “Those two guys anchored the staff for the whole year, and we had a bunch of guys who just pulled their weight. 

“And with that, it just let our offence have the chance to relax a little bit, and hitters like Blake Buckle, Ashton Feijo, Arthur Kowara, and David Coleman, who travelled with us in the fall and are a little bit more mature, it allowed them to do their thing.” 

Among an array of impressive numbers from the squad across the board, the skipper of the Blue Jays believes the season was highlighted by some of the moments it had at the plate. 

“They’re young, they’re physical, and the most impressive thing was what they did offensively,” Steed said. “As well as we pitched it, we put a lot of pressure on some of the teams and the games we won, we got out early, and in between, we had a good combination of speed and power. The kids utilized that to the best of their ability.” 

Spending a busy summer back and forth between the CPBL and across the border at a number of tournaments, Steed was excited to see the competition in the league continue to grow and help his team get better along the way. Just beyond the OBJ Travers team, not far behind in the standings at 16-6, was the Great Lake Canadians 17U team, finishing the regular season with a 15-8-1 record. 

“Overall, the competition was good,” he said. “We had great series against Great Lake, and all our games were good. They took us in the four-game series but in the midweek games, we took them from them, which was great. And then the Toronto Mets Blue was another good series. 

“The league allowed us to do what we needed to do as a team. Obviously at this age, winning the leagues are great for teams and players, but they also needed to keep playing and keep working on some things and it allowed them to do that.” 

Currently on the road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Steed’s squad has a busy schedule remaining before it wraps up for the summer and looks ahead to another year.

“We’re [at] the Marucci World Series, which we are affiliated with through the Founders Club,” Steed said. “We have opening ceremonies Wednesday, and then Thursday we start tournament play with some great competition. We open up with CBG out of California, and then the Dallas Tigers, and then we finish with the East Coast Sox out of Mississippi. So it’s going to be a very good test.”

Helping the Blue Jays prepare for that test was the successful season they had in the CPBL, and they can’t wait to see what more is in store for the future of the league. 

“There are quality players through every organization,” Steed said. “Whether its’ a guy on the mound that we’re facing that day, or the middle of the order for most clubs, it’s a good test for our guys leading up to come down and playing some of the better, competitive teams in the States. It prepared us in a great way.” 

Mets 16U Orange team take CPBL regular season with stellar year

With the Canadian Premier BasebalL League season officially coming to an end, and the regular-season champions at each division being recognized, the circuit celebrates one of the best seasons it has seen, from the Toronto Mets 16U Orange squad. 

The Mets finished the regular season with a 25-1 record, with a six-and-a-half-game lead over the next closest team in the division, and a streak of 20 straight victories to start the year, before suffering its only loss of the season.  

“We’re pretty deep and everybody’s good, for lack of a better term,” Mets 16U Orange manager Darryl Reid said. “We have a couple guys who are higher-profile players, but everybody is solid. 

“With our pitching, every guy goes out and they throw strikes, and they’re the same guy every time you see them. There are no weaknesses in the pitching staff. Everything works. I remember we were facing another team and they said, ‘Man, every guy who comes out here is good,’ so we are deep on the mound and that gave us a chance to win in every game.” 

The team’s win streak was unprecedented at its level through the first three seasons of the league, and topped a leaderboard consisting of seven teams in the division. The Great Lake Canadians finished in the second spot, with the Ontario Nationals landing in third following the regular season. 

“I didn’t expect that, because there’s nobody who really stands out above everyone else,” Reid said. “Typically with teams in the league, there are a bunch of really high-profile guys, but for us there were just a lot of really good players. I knew we’d be good and competitive, but I didn’t see this coming. 

“We had some things that don’t normally happen, like Cole Iantomasi went off one weekend and hit 11 straight doubles, and we were down six runs in the fifth inning and came back and won by eight, so the stuff we were doing doesn’t normally happen. So I knew we had something special going on there, and that they were going to do well.” 

Among the squad’s accomplishments, it was the consistency on the mound that most impressed the Mets staff, to go along with impressive success in the field. 

“It was the pitching,” Reid said. “Every week, they threw well. Our defence was really solid too. We turned I don’t know how many double plays, but every time there was a double play to turn, we did it. All those plays that you kind of expect at the higher levels, we were making them pretty well. 

“And we didn’t make any big errors that led to too many runs, so that was our key. I’ve coached at the 16U level before, and usually you don’t get the plays as automatic as we were doing it, and every play we got seemed to be in a big situation.” 

Looking to carry the regular-season success into the post-season, the Mets’ manager believes his team just needs to keep doing more of what it has been doing throughout the year in order to make a solid playoff run. 

“It’s going to come down to how much desire they have,” Reid said. “They’re learning how to win and they like it. We’ve had a lot of close games, and obviously I can’t speak for them but they haven’t played with the attitude that they just expect to show up – they honestly know they have to work to win, and they’re all very good. 

“They work, they get it done, and they know it’s hard to win, so that’s the biggest thing. We just have to play and if we do that, we’ll do well. It will take somebody to outplay us to beat us, so if we do well, then we’ll have a good chance.”

Toronto Mets

GLC 15U Black squad tops division leaderboard with strong season

The Canadian Premier Baseball League season has officially come to an end, and as the regular-season champions are crowned for their accomplishments throughout the year, the Great Lake Canadians 15U Black squad is among those recognized, topping its division’s leaderboard with an 18-4 season. 

The regular-season champion team is among the best that 15U Black skipper Shane Davis has managed in the Great Lake organization, making the successful season even more enjoyable than it already was. 

“We have guys who throw a lot of strikes on the mound, compete pretty well, and they’re aggressive in the strike zone,” Davis said. “And then our defence is pretty solid. Last year, the team we had really struggled defensively early in the season, and got better as the season went on. 

“This team, basically right from the get-go was really solid defensively. This is the best outfield we’ve ever had, by far. Basically any ball that is hit to the outfield, you can just close your eyes and you know that it’s going to be caught. So it gives the pitchers a lot of confidence to be able to throw strikes and not worry about how hard the other team hits the ball.” 

Among the squad’s strengths, Davis was most impressed with the camaraderie it built along the way, and the confidence it had in its ability on the field day in and day out. 

“It was incredibly how well they got along,” the 15U manager said. “Most of our teams get along really well, but I find with this team not only do they get along really well, but it doesn’t cross the line into goofing around. They do a pretty good job of locking it in when they need to. That is impressive, and nothing really seems to faze them. 

“We could be down – not that this has happened too often – but we could be down by three runs in late innings and they find a way to just stay calm and find a way to come back, because we know we have the power to be able to come back when it come back to our offence. We can put a lot of runs up. So their confidence is impressive in general.” 

Finishing first in the standings among a total of eight teams in the 15U division, with the GLC 15U Red squad just behind them, and the Tri-City Giants team finishing in third place on the leaderboard, the Black team will look to take its successes and continue them into the post-season. 

“When we show up and decide we want to win, it pretty much happens,” Davis said. “This is probably the best overall team we’ve had, as far as defence, pitching and hitting. If everything takes care of itself, there are not too many teams that can compete with us day after day. We obviously will lose the odd game here and there, but when we decide we want to win, we can, and it’s a pretty impressive group that way.”

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.”