Tag: Ontario Astros

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.

Fourth CPBL season underway and thriving

The fourth season of the Canadian Premier Baseball League got off to another rain-hindered start, with postponements, rain delays, field issues, and the like, but most teams have finally had a chance to hit the field and take on their circuit opponents ahead of another successful summer, and the excitement is only building.

Just a couple of weeks away from Major League Baseball’s upcoming draft, the league’s 18U teams have all been on the field for at least two games apiece, with statistical leaders already emerging and names changing atop the leaderboard. While the same can be said at the 17U level, the highest number of games played so far are at the 16U age group, with the Great Lake Canadians leading the charge, with a 5-1 record.

As the league looks ahead to the bulk of the schedule, there’s no better time for a reminder of the alterations to the CPBL bylaws and changes made throughout the off-season. One change was the move to BBCOR bats at all levels, and another was the move to having no mercy rule at the three highest age groups. Player ejection and suspension rule updates are also outlined within the bylaws.

After last year’s five CPBL crowns were split between the Toronto Mets and GLC organizations, with the former winning championships at the 16U and 17U age groups, and the latter taking home the trophies at the 14U, 15U and 18U levels, every organization is excited to embrace what this season has to hold and fight for the 2019 titles.

CPBL announces 2019 regular-season schedule

With spring just around the corner, and the summer months ahead, the Canadian Premier Baseball League is excited to share the schedule for the fourth season of the circuit. Schedules are separated by age group, and times and locations of games have yet to be determined.

2019 CPBL 14U schedule

2019 CPBL 15U schedule

2019 CPBL 16U schedule

2019 CPBL 17U schedule

2019 CPBL 18U schedule

2019 CPBL showcase tournament

We look forward to the season ahead, and as the locations are obtained and the times for games are set, they will be released.

Ontario Astros look ahead to fourth season of the CPBL

As we get closer to spring and approach the fourth season of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the Ontario Astros are looking forward to what lay ahead for the circuit and for the program.

The Astros have been impressed and challenged by the competition the league has consistently brought to the table, and are excited for more of the same, as well as having a chance to build on the successes they found last year.

“The league is doing really well,” Team Ontario director of baseball operations Jason Booth said. “It’s starting to establish a history and we’re starting to see that we are the best league with college commitments in the province, and the CPBL houses the best players in the province – that’s been proven.

“As far as our program goes, there’s never an easy weekend in the league, it’s a tough schedule and quality competition across the board. Our program is moving in an upward swing. We had a five-year plan to make some changes and this will be Year 3 of that plan and we’re getting there. We’ll be competitive at all age groups, and we’re really excited for our 15U team this year. They were our 14U group last year and had a really good year so we’re looking for them to continue that success. And our college placement has been going very well.”

Through the duration of the 2018 season, the most memorable moment for Booth came at the circuit’s close, when the youngest of the organization’s teams made a solid run for a trophy.

“Our 14U team last year – I’m proud of how they battled through the season and battled through some injuries and into the finals,” the director of baseball operations said. “They lost to the Great Lake Canadians in the championship. They did a good job and we think that team is even stronger this year. We are looking forward to seeing what they can do in 2019.”

Throughout the off-season months, the Astros have made some additions and changes to their programming and can’t wait to get out on the field for spring training ahead of the upcoming CPBL season.

“We’ve added a new weight program into our mix, we’ve changed some dynamics with how we’re doing our winter workouts, we have different positional methods, and we’ve had some US coaches and college guys come in and help us through the winter,” Booth said. “We’re taking 44 kids to Florida on March Break to West Palm Beach, which we’re excited about. We’ll have three teams there.”

And beyond the spring, Team Ontario is excited for what’s next in the CPBL, and for its graduating players.

“I like that the 18U playoff weekend has been moved up so those players get an opportunity to have a season and play, and then they get a chance to focus on school starting at the beginning of July,” Booth said. “For our 18U team, it’s a little different because it gives our guys an opportunity to go to the four US tournaments we go to.

“We’re looking forward to having our 2019 class together and playing their final season before they head off to school. Most of those guys have been in the program for three or four years now and it’s exciting to see them end their careers in a positive environment and help them move on.”

As the commitment dominoes continue to fall, the Astros are excited to see where a number of their players land, and they are also looking forward to seeing what their 18U captain Riley McErlean can do as he fulfills his commitment at the College of Wooster in Toledo.

“Wooster is the pre-season No. 1 Division-III program in the nation and he committed in November,” Booth said. “Riley going there is a big thing for us. He’s our team captain this year and he’s been with the program the longest. He’s a leader and really what Team O represents and a great opportunity for him, fitting his needs academically and athletically. And it’s still early, so we look forward to seeing where our other players commit.”

CPBL to use BBCOR bats at all levels

As the Canadian Premier Baseball League prepares to head into its fourth year of play, the circuit would like to announce that as the nation’s top college development league, it will be using BBCOR bats at all levels of play, beginning in the 2019 season. 

BBCOR bats are utilized at every level of college baseball across the United States, and this exciting transition for the CPBL will better aid the transition for the league’s players as they prepare for the next level of their baseball careers. Not only will hitters be able to gain comfort in the use of aluminum bats, pitchers will have easier adjustments to the game at the next level, and it will aid in the defensive transition for all players heading to the next level. 

As the most progressive league in development for the future college baseball player, the CPBL  is proud to pioneer this transition. 

“We at the CPBL consider ourselves the leading US college development league in the province of Ontario,” said Rich Leitch, director of baseball for the Toronto Mets and a CPBL league executive. “The switch to BBCOR bats, coupled with the elite level of competition our league offers, will give our players another added advantage over our counterparts.

“Players will now be evaluated on a level playing field with their American competition, while at the same time providing the opportunity for our players to decrease the learning curve they may experience when arriving on campus as freshmen, by using the same equipment they will be using when competing in collegiate baseball.” 

This change will not only help the players in the CPBL as they move on, but it will add to the recruitment process for colleges. 

“The recent decision made by the CPBL to transition to BBCOR bats gives Canadian high school players a significant advantage when pursuing US schools,” said Indiana State University recruiting coordinator Jordan Tiegs. “Not only does this allow for them to be evaluated on the same level as American players throughout the recruiting process but this will also allow for players who do receive scholarships to be that much more prepared to compete on campus their first fall.”

Added Joey Hawkins, current assistant coach at St. Louis University and former Ontario Blue Jays and Missouri State University shortstop: “Switching to BBCOR will help hitters potentially find their offensive identity a little earlier and prepare them for a typical calendar year of work at an American college where you swing metal bats nine months out of the year. It will also help the pitchers learn how to attack and pitch to hitters with a BBCOR bat in their hands prior to heading to school.”

With the advantages provided by the use of BBCOR bats, the decision for the progressive league to transition was simple. 

“As much as I don’t like the sound, I believe going back to the aluminum bat at the high school level here in Canada is a common-sense move that needed to happen,” University of British Columbia head coach Chris Pritchett said. “Besides the obvious cost savings to families, the fact of the matter is that most of our athletes are developing their skillset to compete at the college level, where the aluminum bat is used. From a recruiting standpoint, it will also put both the Canadian hitters and pitchers on an even playing field with their American counterparts, who already use the aluminum bat at the high school level.”

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.” 

Toronto Mets 17U Orange squad captures program’s first CPBL championship

In the third season of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the Toronto Mets organization captured its first championship when the 17U Orange squad took down the defending age-group champion Great Lake Canadians and secured the title on the second-to-last day of the season. 

After finishing in the middle of the league leaderboard through the regular season, the Mets Orange squad fed off of its more recent success in tournaments in the United States and took the trophy home after big wins against its Blue counterpart and the GLC team. 

“It was exciting,” Mets 17U manager Rich Leitch said. “It was the first one for our program, and then the 16U team won the next day, so it was a good weekend for us…We were confident going into the weekend and we had been on a pretty good roll. We had just come off of an 18-game winning streak down in the U.S. and we were playing really good baseball. 

“We got through our Blue team, and they’re a scrappy bunch who have played us tough all year, and they play hard. Then we had to beat GLC twice in Dorchester, which we knew was going to be a tough task, but we were confident in the there guys we had going. Our three starting pitchers in the last weekend, Nick Manias, Curtis March and Jake Rogers – I believe they were a combined 27-1 on the season – so we had a lot of confidence in our starting pitching, and we had some guys who were really starting to swing the bats well. 

“So we were confident, but we knew it was going to be a grind to get through it.” 

Despite the grind, hoisting the CPBL trophy at the end of a successful season was fun for everyone involved. 

“This was probably the most enjoyable year I ever had coaching,” Leitch said. “I can’t say enough about the kids. They essentially did everything we asked of them, from the first day of the fall last year until 10 o’clock on Saturday night [when the championship was won]. I was happy for them.

“Obviously the coach’s ego comes into play and I want to take credit for it, but 100 per cent of the credit goes to the players and the work they put in. They did a fantastic job and they’re all super kids. They’re a pleasure to be around and I couldn’t have been happier for them. The winning is one thing, but I was happiest for the kids. I was really proud of the way they responded.” 

Not long after the Mets 17U Orange squad sealed the deal, the club’s 16U Orange squad secured a title of its own at the younger age group, bringing home a second trophy to the Out of the Park Sports clubhouse to cap off another successful season. 

“The last couple of years, we’ve really tried to take a synergistic approach to our development plan,” Leitch said. “We’ve gone away from teams practicing separately and we’ll bring in all the kids for position-specific stuff. Our 16U guys are working with our 18U guys and they see how it gets done, and we’re fortunate to have some great players in the program to show them. We have guys like Daniel Carinci, Tyler Black, and an 18U guy like Denzel Clarke working with our 16U guys, and it shows them where they can go and where the hard work will lead them. 

“It’s unfortunate that our 18U team had a couple injuries because I think that would have been an interesting development. But for us it shows, especially at the younger age groups, with the 16U and 17U teams we’re doing the right thing and developing these guys in the right manner. 

“I’m really looking forward to next year because we’re going to have a strong group again. It’s unfortunate to see the season end each year but we are looking forward to getting it going again in the first week of September, and starting our fall season for next year.” 

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.” 

15U CPBL championship won by the Great Lake Canadians Red team

For the second straight Canadian Premier Baseball League season, the Great Lake Canadians secured the title at the 15U level, with the organization’s Red squad coming out on top in the championship in the circuit’s third year. 

By the final day of the 15U championship tournament, only two teams remained, and with the pools down to just the GLC Red and Black teams, it was certain that the Canadians would hold on for back-to-back wins. After the Black squad breezed through the early part of the final weekend, Red had to beat its counterpart twice in order to take home the trophy. 

“That was real tough,” GLC 15U Red manager Derek Bloomfield said. “Those kids are more physical than our team, as far as stature and strength, and they’ve got a few pieces on their team where it’s a threat with them every time. Riley Silva is the first one who comes to mind, and every time he comes to the plate, it’s a pressure situation for the opposition, and we felt that way. We felt that if we could keep him off the base paths, we could win a baseball game. It happened in two out of three games, and it’s unfortunate that he got hurt in the last game, but he did a great job up until that point.

“With our team, a few times in the year I had to give them a kick in the butt because there was no life on the bench, no energy, but they fought, they scratched and clawed when they needed to, and they showed well that way and over that last weekend, that’s for sure.” 

Bloomfield’s squad finished the regular season just behind the GLC Black squad in the standings, finishing two games back and in second place. After battling through the regular season, the team brought everything it had to the playoffs to find success and hoist the CPBL trophy.

“This was a young team,” GLC’s 15U Red manager said. “I knew there would probably be some growing pains, and the season kind of went how I thought it would go – we would have to battle on the mound and we would have to battle basically every single game, and if our pitching and defence held up and kept teams to a minimum, we had a shot in every game because these kids could hit a little bit. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a 15-year-old team like them when they go on a run or get on a roll, but they can bang the ball around with the best of them at that age.” 

Incredibly excited at the outcome, Bloomfield and his team had a lot of fun throughout the playoff weekend, highlighted by a walk-off win against the Tri-City Giants in a tough battle early on. 

“I’m super proud of the team,” the manager said. “I’ve won championships before at other levels, and I’ve seen some good things happen, but to have a big walk-off win against Tri-City and to see exciting moments like that, I’m pretty proud of these kids. Sometimes at that age, you don’t really know what you’re getting into, but I’m really proud of the kids.” 

With an off-season of bragging rights on the line along with the CPBL championship trophy, the GLC Red squad was incredibly excited at the way the season ended, and Bloomfield couldn’t have been happier for them. 

“It was absolutely exciting,” he said. “I try to preach that to the 15-year-olds – to act like you’ve been there before, but you don’t want to hold them down. They’re kids, and it’s part of the game and it’s about having fun. I’m not real big on the hooting and hollering against the opposition, and things like that, but be as professional as you can at 15, have a lot of fun with it, and run with it. And they did.”