Tag: Jeff Helps

GLC comes out on top of CPBL’s 16U division

When the winner was crowned at the 16U level of the Canadian Premier Baseball League for the 2019 season, the circuit saw a new champion, with the Great Lake Canadians taking the trophy.

From the beginning of the off-season last year, Great Lake’s 16U manager Jeff Helps saw flashes of what could be from his team, and hoped that they could put it all together so that he and the Canadians staff might see what their potential could do on the field.

“We had a good fall and you could start to see little glimpses of this group being pretty special, whether it was offensively or on the mound,” Helps said. “It started off early with a bang and the boys kept rolling all summer.

“They went down and had some tough games against some older teams in some of our US tournaments but they kept the ball rolling and especially for the championship tournament. It was one of those things where it was in our hands and the boys played good baseball.”

Great Lake started its postseason weekend with a win over the Ontario Astros, before taking on the Toronto Mets and Ontario Blue Jays to secure two more victories. In the final, the Canadians squared off against the Mets and took them down to secure the trophy.

“The most impressive thing about this group is probably the offence,” Helps said. “One through nine or 10, all the guys in the lineup that day. It was a pretty scary offence, and that showed in the last few games where we won by mercying the other teams. It was really electric, where one inning you’d all of a sudden see an extra-base hit, extra-base hit, homer, extra-base hit — it was a really explosive offence that was our staple for most of the year.”

Some of the players who joined Helps were winners before the year even began, with several securing the 15U championship with Great Lake during the 2018 season and others from the team that topped the regular-season standings last year, with a few new additions to round out the trophy-winning squad.

“There were a few from Derek [Bloomfield]’s team and some of that group of kids stayed together, but there were also a few from Shane [Davis]’s team as well,” Helps said. “It’s one of those things where you combine two really good teams and make them into one and usually you end up with a pretty special group, with the pieces we added from the outside as well.”

When the playoff weekend came to an end with the final win of the year for the championship squad, seeing his team hoist the trophy and celebrate was a special moment for Helps and the rest of the Great Lake staff.

“It was pretty cool,” Helps said. “It was one of those things where this group had the ability to do it, but you never know in the game of baseball. You can play whoever you want and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. With this group though you knew they were smelling it. They were feeling it. It was pretty cool. These guys were so offensive and so explosive that they just took it down.”

The win at the 16U level for the Canadians was one of four championships the program won at the end of the 2019 season, with Great Lake also securing trophies at the 14U, 15U and 17U divisions, and the Ontario Blue Jays winning at the 18U level.

“It shows the strength as a whole, as an entire program,” Helps said. “And from top to bottom, the quality that these kids are performing at. It’s pretty cool as a whole, as a group, as a program, to see that success.

“It’s one of those things where you feel like you’re doing things the right way. Winning isn’t necessarily everything, but sometimes it’s a little feather in your cap where you’re doing things right and it’s being proven on the field.”

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.”