Organizational Spotlight: Resiliency was the Key for the Toronto Mets in 2020

During the 2020 year, the missed time tested the Toronto Mets’ resiliency; however, the organization’s players have come out stronger on the other side.

Vice President and Director of Baseball for the Mets, Rich Leitch, spoke about the toughness of the organization, stating, “for us as a program the highlights for our shortened season really centered around the resiliency of our players and staff. Coming out of the initial lockdown we were able to safely manage our return to play and we were able to offer many outside of the box solutions to continue with our development model.” 

“There was a significant time commitment from our players, families and staff, because of this our players were still able to demonstrate significant improvement under stressful situations.”

Due to the cancellation of the CPBL season and tournaments, the Mets’ focus this summer was purely on player development.

The advancement of the Mets’ pitching staff, in particular, was evident once they were able to take the field again as four of their arms participated in the CPBL All-Star Showcase in September. 

Leitch noted, “our pitching coordinator Jordan Prosper has done an outstanding job with our arms from 14U-18U. Pitchers like Turner Spoljaric, Will Droll and Zak Szabo have seen real improvements over the past 12 months, and Mitch Bratt will most likely go down as the most decorated pitcher in the history of the program.”

“From an offensive standpoint with the implementation of Blast Motion technologies it has given us insight into our offensive development and we are excited to see how it translates on the field in 2021.”

When they take the field this year, they will do so with at least 12 commits on their 18u team alone. Ethan Boisvert is headed to West Virginia Wesleyan College, Mitchell Bratt to Florida State University, Will Droll to the University of Pittsburgh and Jonah Feldstein to Ithaca College. While, Alex Scoular is off to Lake Michigan College, Brando Leroux to Chipola College, Johnny Stoddard to Pratt CC, and Adam Khan to the University of British Columbia. Furthermore, Lucas Bolin is committed to Lake Michigan College, Aaron Manias and Jacob Miller to Howard College and Caden Shapiro to Princeton University.

Meanwhile, during the offseason, the Mets officially completed the renovations of their new facility; Toronto Mets Performance Centre. The Performance Centre replaces Out of the Park Sports, where they trained for eight years. 

“TMPC gives us everything we need in one footprint with a more functional space, increased field area, a parents viewing area and infinitely more parking which makes it easier on our families,” said Leitch. “We are extremely excited to begin full practices at the new home of the Mets.”

For Leitch, he just hopes that the players are able to partake in a full season this year and allow their efforts to show on the field.

“In 2021 we are hoping for a complete and safe baseball season for our players. We were forced to adapt to a virtual training model for a portion of 2020 which is not ideal. We believe in our developmental model and we believe in the work ethic of our players, we feel that they’ve earned the right to compete this summer.”

Fieldhouse Pirates

Organizational Spotlight: The Fieldhouse Pirates Head into 2021 Strong

The Fieldhouse Pirates enter their sixth year in the CPBL, coming off of a shortened 2020 season, which involved a handful of memorable moments for the organization.

For Jimmy Richardson, the Pirates’ Director of Baseball Operations, getting on the field in itself was a highlight. He stated, “The highlight of our season was safely getting back on the field and our players being able to get quality reps. It was awesome to see the pure joy on our players’ faces.”

“The simple joys of being on the field with teammates and doing what you loved returned for a lot of guys. When something you love to do is taken away, it makes you appreciate it that much more when it returns.”

Aside from the 18u group, all of the organization’s teams were able to fit in exhibition games during the shortened season, and played well. Meanwhile, six players from the Pirates were attendees of the CPBL All-Star Showcase. 

Looking ahead to 2021, the 18u club has 16 commitments thus far, a group which Richardson calls “exciting.” Noting, “We have a lot of high quality players on both sides of the ball. We have a good mix of athletes within our position player group who can impact the game on both sides of the ball.”

“Our pitching staff has good depth with the potential to have a lot of high impact arms. Hopefully any of the potential disruptions we may face from a training perspective this off season don’t make things too difficult for our pitchers to keep trending in the right direction.”

Richardson also spoke highly of the talent level the 17u team possess and touched on the younger groups as well.

“We are excited about the level of talent we have through the program. Our 17u team is going to have a lot of talent and guys who have already committed to schools. It’s going to be fun to watch [Nate] Ochoa, [Cameron] Gurney, Luis [Pimentel-Guerrero], [Carter] Krawchuk, [Davis] Germann and [Owen] Millar do their thing this summer,” said Richardson.

“At the younger age groups we’ve got a lot of high quality athletes who have been very rewarding to coach so far. The spring will be coming out party for a number of our younger players and I’m excited to see it.”

A highlight for the Pirates organization in 2020 was seeing Owen Caissie get picked by the San Diego Padres in the MLB Draft. Caissie, now a member of the Chicago Cubs, initially joined Fieldhouse at the 13u level, and his selection was a moment of great pride for the staff. 

“Owen getting drafted was awesome for our program. He’s been with us for so long and so many of our coaches were able to play a small part in helping him on his way.”

“At the end of the day, Owen is really responsible for his own success. His work ethic is unmatched, and it’s impossible for that not to rub off on the younger players in our program. I’m excited to watch his career progress. He has such a strong desire to succeed that I don’t doubt I’ll be paying to watch him play under the big lights one day.”

Like everyone else, Richardson hopes the players throughout Ontario have the opportunity to play a full season in 2021. And he especially looks forward to watching his players perform once they retake the field.

“For the 2021 season I am hopeful that all players in the province get the chance to play somewhat of a normal season. For the guys heading off to school in the fall it will be important for them to get game reps and be ready to compete once they hit campus,” he said.

“Most of all, at the end of the day the players want to play so I’m hopeful they get that chance to compete.”

Ontario Royals

Organizational Spotlight: The Ontario Royals Look Forward to Competing in the CPBL

The Ontario Royals head into the 2021 season as one of five expansion teams in the Canadian Premier Baseball League. With a handful of organizational developments, they are excited for the new season and prepared to be a competitive team in the CPBL.

With limited game action in the 2020 season, the Royals adapted to the circumstances continuing their player development from afar. “We didn’t get the opportunity to participate in any formal league play – but the majority of our players took part in our remote training program and continued their development,” said Royals General Manager & Owner Matt Mills. 

The Royals, like all teams, didn’t get on the field much, however they accomplished a lot in the shortened season. They partnered with Tread Athletics to assist with their player development process. And have continued with their RBI (Royals Baseball International) Program while also bringing in nine new coaches to lead their clubs.

Meanwhile, a highlight for the Royals in 2020 was seeing Western Kentucky University commit Brodie Mackay of the 18u team take part in the CPBL All-Star Showcase. 

Mills was impressed by his club’s infielder, stating, “he looked comfortable defensively and moved smoothly with good feet and hands. I also thought he swung the bat well and barreled the ball up a number of times… The other great thing about Brodie is watching how he carries himself in those situations – always being present as coaches are speaking, and respecting those around him.  

Looking ahead to 2021, at the 15u level, coached by Ryan Balan, 14 of the team’s players are new to the organization, and Royals General Manager & Owner Matt Mills is excited to watch this crop of players develop. “We look forward to working with these strong athletes and sharpening their baseball skills and knowledge of the game. This is a group that has the opportunity to grow together within the organization and be increasingly competitive the longer they stay together.” 

“Our 16U group is 50/50 split of returning Royals players and new Royals, and we’re excited to see them compete in the CPBL, and continue to develop,” Mills said. 

Meanwhile, at the 18u level, it’s a younger team that Mills says is “a group that will continue to scratch and claw to compete.”

This season, Mills expects to place each of the 18u team’s graduating players in schools, while continuing to develop the club’s players on and off the field. “We hope to continue to be able to work, train, and develop through these winter pandemic months, and hope that all our players and families continue to stay in good health. As we progress throughout the season we expect to see our players continue to grow in terms of their baseball development, and as young men off the field.”

With lots of exciting developments within the organization, the Royals look forward to their inaugural year in the CPBL.

Organizational Spotlight: Watson Elite Joins the CPBL for 2021

A new addition to the league, Watson Elite, out of Ottawa, enter the 2021 season as one of five expansion teams in the CPBL.

Founder of Watson Elite, Tanner Watson, started the program shortly after his playing days concluded and is excited about his organization’s latest step as new members of the CPBL.

“Entering our first season of CPBL play will be a great step for our program and players. Offering them consistent top competition in the province is a big piece of our development structure,” said Watson.

In their first year as members of the league, the organization will feature two clubs, a 16u and 17u team. Watson’s expectations are straight to the point; “development and continued strong compete levels by each team throughout our winter, spring and summer schedules.”

“The 17U Program is a mixture of 17 and 16-year-olds. A strong, athletic core of players with some upside arms that we look forward to seeing as they continue to mature. We have a consistent core of players with a couple of additions that will add depth to our team,” said Watson.

“16U is half 15U and 16U age group players that have a very consistent approach and outcomes to games. A definite group of developing players that continue to progress to their potential. Looking for them to be competitive and consistent in their gameplay.”

In recent years, the organization’s players gained exposure to clubs in the CPBL, partaking in exhibition games. Watson looks forward to many more matchups against the best the province has to offer in 2021. “Over the past years, we have yearly played the Toronto Mets, Ontario Blue Jays, and Great Lake Canadians and look forward to meeting all the league affiliates with a common goal of offering the strongest competition possible,” he said.

During the course of the shortened 2020 season, Watson Elite had success playing against local older-aged clubs. They also competed in multiple series’ against the Blue Jays and Académie de baseball. 

“Highlights were our ability to safely get in a full schedule in the shortened term. Since June 15th we were on the field 4+ times a week and got in tons of quality games and intersquad reps. Playing until October 15th with no off weeks was great for our players to progress and continue to grow and learn the game,” said Watson. 

Another highlight for the club was seeing Ty Hamilton, a left-on-left outfielder, participate in the CPBL All-Star Showcase. He represented the program well, making a pair of critical plays in the outfield while also picking up a big hit in Game 3. “Ty’s participation in the All-Star Showcase was a definite moment of pride for our program. Ty is an athletic two-way player who’s upside is on both sides of the ball. As a 2004, it was great to see him compete and do well versus his peer group and older-aged players as well,” said Watson.

Coming off of a positive 2020 campaign, Watson Elite looks to carry that momentum into their first taste of league play come May. 

Ontario Terriers

Organizational Spotlight: Terriers Baseball Looks Forward to Beginning CPBL Play

Terriers Baseball, a new addition to the league, look forward to their inaugural year in the Canadian Premier Baseball League come 2021.

The Terriers have been in existence since 2005. They’ve produced 26 Major League Draft picks, 32 Junior National Team Members, and 222 college players. Director of Baseball Operations Dan Thompson started the program a decade and a half ago and is excited about being added to the CPBL.

“Joining the CPBL was a big and important move for us,” said Thompson. “We look forward to the outstanding competition that the CPBL will offer at all age levels and hope to contribute to keeping the CPBL the best league in the country.”

Following the club’s addition to the league, nine players participated in the CPBL All-Star Showcase, a highlight during the shortened 2020 season. Elijha Hammill, Dylan Oborne, Andre Wojtarowicz, Cameron Chee-Aloy, Andrius Jurenas, Matthew Brown, Jordan Woods, Rhys Montgomery and Colin Cymbalista were attendees of the Showcase. With Chee-Aloy taking home the MVP award after hitting two home runs and patrolling centerfield with ease during the three-day event.

Each member of the organization that was in attendance during the Showcase impressed. Oborne and Brown were up to 88, Wojtarowicz was up to 89. Woods and Montgomery both threw well in their multiple inning appearances. While the four position players had solid weekends as well. For Hammill, one of the top prospects in the country heading to the 2021 draft, it was one of the many events he participated in during the summer. 

During the fall, the Terriers 18u team played exceptionally well, going 14-2. Thompson stated, “this bodes well for next cycle (2021/22) as it is a young team with several returning players‎, some of whom have already committed to NCAA D1 programs.”

The Terriers committed players include Max Lanoue (Stony Brook), Elijha Hammill (Utah), Hugh Pinkney (Rutgers), Matt Brown (Frontier), Andre Wojtarowicz (Frontier), Jordan Woods (ETSU), Julian Russell (Alderson Broaddus), Ayden Finn (Guelph). There’s depth in the organization from a talent standpoint, and not just at the 18u level with plenty more uncommitted players waiting in the wings.

Looking ahead to the 2021 season, all four Terriers clubs will head west in June, set to play a handful of games in Okotoks; meanwhile, the Terriers will also be travelling to destinations such as St. Louis and Nashville if the pandemic settles down. 

Coming off of an impressive fall, the Terriers look to carry that momentum into their inaugural year in the CPBL.

Ontario Astros

Organizational Spotlight: The Ontario Astros Take Steps Forward in 2020

The Ontario Astros look forward to their sixth year in the league, coming off of a shortened 2020 campaign in which they played well in limited action.

For General Manager Jon Carson, the return to play, which signalled normalcy, was the ultimate highlight of the year. “It wasn’t about the scores, it was more about the ability to play the game we all love.” 

The Astros made steps forward both on and off the field, playing competitive games in the September, while improving the infrastructure in place in the organization. “We made a number of moves that will help solidify the Astros as a competitive team moving forward. We were able to use the pandemic as a reset to move us in the right direction heading into 2021” said Carson.

From a staff standpoint, the Astros have added Cam Black-Araujo as the Director of Communications, Jim Hughes as the Mental Performance Coach, Myles Swartz as Assistant GM and Pitching Instructor, and Jay Osborne as the Assistant Coach for the 18U team. While Jason Booth, Kyle McKay and Carson continue in their leadership roles.  

The Astros have also added technology that they believe will improve their organization’s ability to develop players and place college players in this unique landscape. “These products will also help in the recruiting process as we enter the uncertainty of the global pandemic and what it might do to the recruiting process,” said Carson.

One of the bigger additions for the Astros is the brand new facility, which recently opened and is nearing completion. “The new Dugout will house not only more cages and field areas – but Team O will have their own place inside the spacious 25,000 sqft that will enhance our ability to attract top rated talent. But this also sends a message that we are not going anywhere, continuing to build on the Team O legacy from years past and look to the future,” Carson said.

“The pandemic allowed us to get a head start on the recruiting process and move in a direction that fit the mold of the vision. We will be fielding two teams at the 14U age group which will continue to enhance our ability to move in the right direction at the age groups above. Through my time the last few months seeing and evaluating teams and talent, I believe that we will be very competitive in the coming season.”

One of the highlights for the Astros organization 2020 was Sam White’s performance in the CPBL All-Star Showcase. He was one of the better performers during the three-day event, and Carson had lots of positive things to say about the 2022 grad. “His love of the game runs deep and it’s evident in his ability to work with change as we have been transitioning him to move behind the plate and trying out at 3B. So I was not surprised by his performance at the CPBL All-Star weekend, he confirmed what I already knew – a great bat from the left side and ability to make in-game adjustments defensively with his versatility all over.”

From here on out, Carson says the Astros will better appreciate every moment they have on the field as a result of all the time missed in 2020. “I think moving forward we have the ability to appreciate the fact that when we get back on the field for real in 2021 – we will appreciate the small moments that baseball can bring us.”

“My hopes sitting in my first year of the GM position – is to implement the vision that Jason Booth and I have over the next 5 years which is to build on the the legacy of Team O from college placements to developing some potential draft picks down the road… preparing young baseball players to love the game but become outstanding people off the field.” 


Organizational Spotlight: The Ontario Blue Jays Look Forward to 2021

The Ontario Blue Jays enter their sixth year in the Canadian Premier Baseball League with high expectations and excitement for the 2021 season. 

In 2020, getting on the field at all was a huge positive for the Blue Jays. “Speaking on behalf of probably everyone in the league, I think a highlight for all teams was to just see kids playing competitive baseball again” said Corey Eckstein, the Ontario Blue Jays Director of Player Development and Player Personnel.

Like so many other organizations, the Blue Jays had to adjust their schedule and come up with backup plans to allow for the best possible competition in the shortened year. For 2021, they are prepared for similar situations, “contingency plans will be the nature of the beast and we will be prepared to have a schedule on both Canadian and US soil in 2021,” Eckstein said. 

However, despite the tournament cancellations and missed games in 2020, the Blue Jays were able to partake in the WWBA World Championship, finishing off their season on a high note as they performed well in one of the year’s most prestigious events. 

“After talking with lawyers, ensuring we had COVID insurance for everyone through AIG, and keeping our players in our bubble at all times we decided to move forward and try and do something positive to wrap up the fall season…. Coach Steed did a remarkable job as always with these young men and I couldn’t be more proud to see them finish in the Round of 16 out of 96 of the best programs in North America,” said Eckstein. 

The foundation of talent the Blue Jays have at the younger levels provides just as much enthusiasm for Eckstein. “I am really excited about our up and comers that nobody has really seen yet… the physicality of some of our 15’s and 16’s is what really excites me and it will be up to our older guys this off-season to show them how things need to be done around here.” 

With talent at the younger levels and the older group’s recent success, Eckstein has high expectations for all the clubs in the organization. “I believe we will be competitive at all age levels next year, especially now that we scaled back to six teams,” said Eckstein. 

“The standard and expectations will never change as long as you wear the OBJ uniform. Our objective will always be to compete at the highest level on the biggest stage while teaching life lessons through the game of baseball,” said Eckstein. 

Off the field, the Blue Jays have made revamps in numerous facets, “over the past four months, our facility has had a complete overhaul, and we are getting back to investing in our players player development as well as their personal well-being off the field. Our staff is closer than ever, and I have personally seen a huge change in the output of everybody’s work inside our building, which is exciting for me,” said Eckstein.

The Blue Jays are prepared on and off the field, excited about what’s to come in the 2021 season and beyond.


Organizational Spotlight: The Expansion Windsor Selects Are Excited to Compete in the CPBL

The Windsor Selects have a long history of success, producing 29 draft picks and over 200 college players since inception. For the 2021 season, the Selects will take their impressive resume to the CPBL as new members of the league. 

In July, the announcement of the CPBL’s 2021 expansion teams was released, and the Selects were thrilled to be one of the five clubs taking part in the expansion. President of the Windsor Selects, Bernie Soulliere previously stated, “the Windsor Selects are pleased to announce that they have joined the CPBL, recognized as being the top calibre 14U to 18U league in the province…we look forward to the new challenges for the 2021 season and beyond.” 

Having yet to begin regular season play in the league, the Selects got a taste of CPBL action in exhibition games this fall. General Manager John Picco stated, “overall the Selects had a great fall season, all age groups played games. We were very competitive and won some games against new competition from the CPBL for the first time.”

Also during the fall, in late September, three Selects players, Kurt Barr, Nicholas Veselinovic and Brysen Vernon, participated in the CPBL All-Star Showcase, previewing the organization’s talent. Each player performed well during the three-day event, and will anchor the 18u squad.

The 18u club’s rotation will be led by two left-handers, the aforementioned Veselinovic and Jacob Ray. The roster is homegrown with many players who have developed with the organization. 

“My expectations would be for the Windsor Selects to compete in all age groups in the CPBL… This is our first taste of CPBL action so we are looking forward to it, and are very excited to be part of this league,” said Picco.

“Our younger age groups 15U & 16U are very talented teams that have a lot of good athletes on the team. I would expect both of these age groups to be highly competitive in the divisions. The depth of the 16U team is very exciting as they have a full team of athletes and should be a great group to watch moving forward,” he said.

Another exciting development in the organization is the return of former players as coaches. “Our 16U team has former Selects Jeremy Orton / Mitch Huddvanger / Jack Zimmerman coaching. The 17U team has added Matt Soanes and Chad Matton and the 18U team added Jake Rajsigl as the pitching coach. It is great to have all these former College and Selects players back and coaching,” said Picco.

Overall, the 2020 season, although short, was positive for the Selects. “We had a great shortened season. We were able to add an age group ( the 17U team ) which will be a great asset to the organization. All teams were able to play games and get a lot of work in which was fortunate during this time,” said Picco.

As the Selects come off of a promising fall, they look forward to their first season in the CPBL. 


Organizational Spotlight: GLC Takes Advantage of the Shortened 2020 Season

Coming off of their fifth season in the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the Great Lake Canadians have had continued success in developing and producing talent as well as winning on the field. It was a shortened season for the organizations in the CPBL, however, GLC capitalized on all the time spent on the diamond in Dorchester.

The ability to get field time in May was enormous for the Canadians, allowing for continued development. “Thanks to our partnership with Thames Centre, we were allowed out on the field in the middle of May, which all things considered was a huge win,” GLC Director of Baseball Operations Chris Robinson said. The benefit of that development time was evident once July rolled around and games were played, as GLC performed well. 

Due to the impact of COVID, GLC’s upcoming 18u team will be made up of more post-grads than usual, making for a very talented roster. “This will be the first year we have a significant amount of post grad players on the 18u club. With that, we do have high expectations as it is one of the deeper groups of players we have ever had,” Robinson said.

The strength of the 18u class is obvious as sixteen 2021 graduates already have commitments down south. Core Jackson is going to the University of Nebraska, Kaden Gray to Cowley CC (Kansas), Brendan Wilkinson is off to Virginia Commonwealth University, Adam Shoemaker’s headed to St. John’s University and Riley Silva to Barton CC (Kansas). Meanwhile, Dre Amaral, Jordan Spring, and Drew Lawrence are going to Bossier Parrish CC (Louisiana), with Tanner Dawe and Julio Vasquez going to Howard CC (Texas). Caden Turnbull is headed to Ventura CC (California), Zack Stylianou to Dawson CC (Montana), Aaron Rutherford to Monroe CC (New York), Aaron Duffy to Canisius College, Ben Roberts to USC-Upstate and Calvin Ziegler to Auburn University.

However, the organization’s talent isn’t subject to just the 18u team, with quality groups at each level throughout the system, with the youngest club, the 14U group, impressing in limited games this fall. “The fall always gives us a small sample size with our 14U groups, and this year we were excited to see the athleticism of this group. Many of the newcomers weren’t able to play a lot of baseball this year due to COVID, so we are excited to really get to work this off-season and introduce these players to the GLC way,” Robinson said.

“We always have lofty expectations for all of our teams top to bottom, but our main goal remains the same; player development. We have been able to sustain this model since our inception and fortunately, because of the players and their hard work, we have had a lot of success in terms of winning games and CPBL Championships,” he said.

This model has led to a pipeline of talent which has made for an impressive alumni group, led by recent draft picks, who have found success in college and the pros, such as Owen Diodati (Blue Jays), Noah Myers (Blue Jays), Michael Brettell (Cardinals), Eric Cerantola (Rays) and Adam Hall (Orioles). 

“One of the blessings in disguise in the COVID season we just finished up was that we were able to infiltrate our alumni into our everyday group work throughout the spring and summer,” Robinson said. “Having players from all different levels of college and professional baseball working directly with our current players was a source of pride for us here on staff. We have been very fortunate to watch so many great players come through this program, but as importantly, they are all great people.”

With a player development focus, GLC has produced tons of talent, and the current crop of players look to follow suit with similar success. The shortened 2020 season brought on a lot of positives despite the negative situation, and heading into 2021, the Canadians look to continue their winning ways in the box score, and most importantly from a development standpoint.

Canadians’ Red team takes title at 15U division of the CPBL

Heading into the postseason of the Canadian Premier Baseball League’s 15U level, the Great Lake Canadians were looking to repeat the success they’d had last year — seeing both their Red and Black teams in the championship final battling it out to see who might have bragging rights for another year.

As the 15U playoffs dwindled down to the circuit’s final two teams this season, Great Lake replicated that success, with the Canadians’ Red squad — led by manager Brendan Saville — taking down the Black team — led by last year’s championship manager Derek Bloomfield — to secure the trophy for the program.

“It was an awesome experience,” Saville said. “It was really cool because it was my first year managing, so obviously these guys had a special place in my heart and I was so ecstatic for them. Earlier in the season, we lost to GLC Black in our tournament by one run in the last inning, and it was a tough way to lose and everyone was a little heartbroken. It certainly left a bad taste in my mouth.

“So it was really nice to see all the guys rise to the occasion to play, to beat an outstanding baseball team coached by an outstanding manager in Derek. I was really excited for those guys. It was a really cool visceral experience of happiness and joy. It’s always exciting to watch a bunch of young guys have the opportunity to experience success on the baseball field who have been working really hard all year.”

When Saville got his first glimpse of the squad he would be at the helm of for the 2019 season, he was excited about the potential it had, but didn’t know how far it would come in such a short time together.

“I originally thought the team was made up of a lot of really sound baseball players and that we had an opportunity to do something with the talent we started with, we were just really young,” Saville said. “I thought it was going to take a lot of work in terms of being able to specifically beat the Black team.

“We didn’t have the same size or physical ability and physical talent they had, and we were going to have to play a lot of small ball throughout the season to be successful. As the season progressed, things continued to grow and we started to thrive on ourselves. We were able to really show up when we needed to, in big games, and played some really sound baseball, especially on the defensive end. That most likely won us the championship and got us to where we were.”

Great Lake began its playoff weekend against the Fieldhouse Pirates, before a win led to a matchup against the Tri-City Giants, which helped propel the squad further into the tournament in more ways than one.

“Tri-City had really taken it to us all year pretty much,” Saville said. “For some reason, we weren’t playing well against them. It was probably our biggest win of the season in terms of momentum, winning that game. It was a good all-around team effort win, riding on the momentum of Fieldhouse and battling and battling…

“We had only won once against Tri-City all season and they had been the team we just couldn’t figure out, so obviously we wanted our guys to create the opportunity to unlock the lock with the key.”

Among the qualities his squad brought to the table throughout the season, there was one that stood out the most for Saville.

“The biggest thing that we talked about all year was trying to make sure not to give up and to really keep the energy alive,” he said. “We may not have had the same energy levels for every game, but when it came to a big opportunity or a tournament, the guys really rose to the occasion and specifically they played as a unit and as a team.

“It’s rare to find a group of 15-year-olds that comes together and is cohesive enough to actually play as a team and put all egos aside to win. These guys definitely did that and it was really fun to coach them.”

The championship was one of four for the Canadians program among the five levels of the CPBL, also winning at the 14U, 16U and 17U age groups, with the Ontario Blue Jays taking home the trophy from the 18U division.

“It cements itself as one of the top development organizations in the country,” Saville said of Great Lake. “To play in a league like that and to be able to walk away with four out of five is unheard of. If that’s not domination, I don’t know what is. Chris [Robinson] and Adam [Stern] and Shane [Davis] and everyone have done a really good job of piecing the puzzle together and we’re all ecstatic to be a part of that organization.

“There’s a really big sense of pride in being part of something that is clearly working and does it the right way…and then seeing those kind of results happen. The organization is flourishing and it’s cool to be a part of something so great.”