Tag: postseason

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.

Tri-City Giants looking to compete among the CPBL’s best at 15U and 16U levels

As the Tri-City Giants head into the fourth Canadian Premier Baseball League season, they are looking to build on a strong off-season and add some accolades to their resume throughout the upcoming year.

Competing at the 15U and 16U levels of the circuit this season, after matching up against the competition in the younger age groups in the past, the Giants are hoping to focus their efforts in the CPBL and make an impression in their divisions.

“Unless you walk away with that trophy at the end of the year, there is always a sense of disappointment,” Tri-City pitching coordinator and 15U manager Travis Kayler said. “But taking away the positives, we improved as the summer went on, stayed healthy, and we were able to set a benchmark for where we need to be heading into 2019.

“The entire CPBL is such a close group. Each year we see more and more parity, which continues to drive the competitive engine of our players. It’s a special experience for the guys in each division to share the field with so many passionate baseball people. There’s a real sense of growth for the game and commitment to the players in CPBL action that you just can’t find anywhere else.”

Even though last year’s experience in the league didn’t end with a championship trophy for the Giants, the organization racked up plenty of other accolades and was helped by the circuit to some of those accomplishments.

“CPBL play was able to prepare us to play in tournaments south of the border, where we saw great success,” Kayler said. “Each Giants team represented the organization extremely well in these tournaments, with our 14U team bringing back two gold medals. Despite a mid-season CPBL slump, we were able to dig ourselves out and rally to play some of our best baseball by the end of the summer, and it left our players hungrier for even more heading into the winter and 2019 season.

“The Giants were represented extremely well by Calvin Ziegler, who made the first Giants appearance at Tournament 12 and on the Canadian Junior National Team circuit, and that is just the beginning, as we continue to see true growth in the program.”

Throughout the off-season this year, the Giants have made some significant additions to their staff and changes to their program in the hopes of seeing improvements on the field during the upcoming year.

“This winter we have made huge changes to our off-season development program,” Kayler said. “We have worked for months with our staff to build out plans not only to prepare us for 2019 but for well beyond that as well. Our coaching staff has expanded this off-season to help build our knowledge and resource base for effective development.

“Our new strength coach Scott Bisonette has been working tirelessly with all Giants to improve mobility, strength and awareness of the body as they continue to add size and ability to their growing frames. Players do sessions with him three times a week in addition to his player-specific programming for those taking it beyond the facility to school, home, or their local gyms.

“Zach Kaal and I have launched a new throwing program using Driveline Baseball resources with athletes to improve arm health and strength as we focus on the pitchers. Zach’s experience in the game and willingness to train alongside the players has been a huge motivator for players who are really pushing themselves to take the next step. We have a completely revamped hitting program as well. Mike Battochio has combined his years of experience playing for high-level coaches and programs with his months of endless training and research to be able to adapt to the ever-improving landscape of player development.”

With the additions and upgrades, Kayler and Tri-City are looking forward to seeing what their teams and players can do when they are finally able to get outside and put their hard work to the test.

“We have so many great players and coaches in the CPBL, I cannot wait to see the on-field product,” he said. “We all hide indoors at ball facilities throughout the winter so it’s always great seeing the results of all that training. Knowing in a few months we’ll be smelling freshly-cut grass, feeling the clay under our spikes and being able to compete is something we are all excited about.”

Fieldhouse Pirates enter fourth CPBL season hungry for more

The Fieldhouse Pirates came just close enough to the top of the leaderboard and to the championship trophy to leave the last Canadian Premier Baseball League season hungry for more, and they can’t wait to get the fourth year of the circuit underway to start their quest for just that.

With a successful 2018 campaign under their belts, the Pirates are looking to keep taking steps forward in the organization’s progression as they move into another year in the competitive league.

“Overall, the entire organization did well last year,” Fieldhouse director of baseball operations Jimmy Richardson said. “We could have done better. At the older age groups – at the 18U level – we finished second place in the regular season and lost to a good Great Lake Canadians team in a tight game in the finals, but from a motivation standpoint, all the guys seeing how we performed last year – we want to do better going forward into this year.

“And from a talent perspective, and the top guys in the league, it just seems like the talent keeps getting better and better every year. So we need to make sure we’re ready to go and can compete against those guys for this year.”

Among the season’s highlights, Richardson most enjoyed getting a chance to see some of the hard work that several long-time members of the program have put in over the years come to fruition in their final season with the organization.

“Last year with our 18U group, we had a core group of guys – five or six guys who came up and were with us from the time they were 13,” he said. “Some of those guys played underage at our 18U level for two or three years, and we took some lumps, and then last year they put it all together and we had a really good season. So seeing those guys have the success that they did and being able to have that pay off in their grad year was really fulfilling.”

As the off-season got underway for the Pirates, the organization made some additions and changes in order to maintain it’s progress and keep getting better in preparation for the fourth year of the CPBL.

“From a programming perspective, practice-wise we’ve really put an emphasis on developing our pitchers this off-season, and putting together a comprehensive program that will allow us to have more success in developing higher-end arms,” Richardson said. “Last year, we spent a lot of time working hitting, so we’ve taken that hitting program and built on it from last year, and this year we are building on our pitching program.

“We’ve brought in George Halim as the director of player development to come in and work with all different aspects of our hitters and our infielders, and he’s been a big help in that regard. Our new pitching coordinator Ian Harvey is doing really good work with our pitchers, but those are our two main focuses.”

In the midst of the winter months, Richardson and the Pirates can’t wait to get out on the field and see how the work they have put in and will continue to do throughout the off-season can help them build as they nove forward.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the programming we’ve got in place now and how that’s going to impact the athletes we have in the program,” he said. “We’ve done a good job of going out and getting a bunch of high-end athletes who want to compete in our program and get better, and being able to put that into action on the field against the top programs in our league is something you always want to use as a measuring stick.”

With an eye on the future beyond the next CPBL season, several Fieldhouse players have also made commitments for the upcoming year, with Matt Nolin heading to Oakland University, Zach Cameron and Stephan Hospital to Niagara University, Ian Evans off to Elon University, Stefan Mielzynski going to Otero College, Kenny DiClemente to Crowder College, Lucas Gilbert and Franco Barbiero off to NIACC, Eric Van Bassel going to Niagara County College, Tanner Hodgson off to Mars Hill, Matt McEachern and Josh Hare to Lourdes University, Bryce Arnold heading to Campbell University and Owen Caissie off to the University of Kentucky.

 

Ontario Blue Jays ready to head into fourth CPBL season

Excited about what they accomplished last year both in and outside of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the Ontario Blue Jays are looking forward to much more of the same success they’ve found, and continued improvements as they enter the fourth year of the circuit.

Though the program didn’t get to participate in the post-season at several age groups last season – because of scheduling conflicts – it did finish atop the regular-season standings at the 17U level and near the top of the leaderboard at multiple other levels. As a result, the schedule has been altered for the upcoming year to ensure all teams are eligible to participate.

“Last season was great,” OBJ president and director of player development Sean Travers said. “It was unfortunate we didn’t get to play in the CPBL playoffs, which sucks but they’ve remedied that for this year. The season was good and the competition was good. It helped us prepare to go down to the States and have a good summer.”

The biggest success stories of the season last year for the Blue Jays were two tournament wins south of the border, bringing home championship victories from Houston and Louisiana.

“It was cool because we won the Future Stars Series tournament in Houston and that kind of propelled us into the Marucci World Series, which we won and that was huge. It was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and that was the biggest part of the season – winning the Marucci World Series.”

Through the off-season so far, the OBJ organization has given its regular programming a new look and feel, through the use of an easy-access application, an additional way for players and users to track their progress and schedule through the winter months.

“The neat thing that we’ve started this off-season is we’re running everything through an app now,” Travers said. “So we are still doing everything we’ve done and we’re just kind of stepping it up with the use of an app. We’ve had a really good first phase of weight lifting and conditioning this winter, and practices have just started for the year.”

Looking ahead to sunnier days and warmer months, the program’s president is eager for each phase of the year, and most of all to getting things going on the field.

“The season goes in stages,” Travers said. “Right now I’m looking forward to our first practices, those are huge. Then once we get that going, we look forward to getting down to Vero Beach and having spring training for a week.

“When that’s over, we come home and we get excited about the CPBL season. When that’s over, we get excited about going down and doing our summer tour. The biggest thing will obviously be our summer tour, but it’s event by event around here and it’s all exciting.”

Beyond the start of the fourth CPBL season, and several trips across the border, Travers is also anticipating several exciting summer moments for his current and former players, and can’t wait to see how they unfold.

“It’s going to be a real interesting year in the draft, and from a former-players perspective, hopefully we’ll have a couple big leaguers this season,” Travers said. “So that stuff is pretty exciting. And every year is a different group, so every year is exciting because you get to work with new kids and see what they can do.”

With opportunities to continue their baseball careers while pursuing post-secondary education, the Ontario Blue Jays have added several commitments to the fold for the upcoming season. Lukas Barry is planning on heading to St. Louis University, Kyle Lev to Siena College, Jaden Brown to the University of Kentucky, Dasan Brown to Texas A&M University, David McCabe to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and TJ Schofield-Sam to Chipola Junior College. Caden Griffin has also committed to the University of Missouri for the 2020 season.

CPBL playoff schedules are set and post-season picture clear

With the Canadian Premier Baseball League regular season at its end and standings at each division finalized, the playoff picture is now clear, and the post-season is set to begin this Thursday with games throughout the final weekend of July in St. Marys, Dorchester, London, Aurora and Scarborough.

The 14U playoffs will take place between Dorchester and St. Marys, at the Field of Dreams and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. The Great Lake Canadians 14U Red squad finished atop the division leaderboard, and is the highest seed headed into post-season play.

The CPBL’s 15U playoff round will take place between Dorchester and London, with games being played at the Field of Dreams and Citywide. The GLC 15U Black squad came out on top of the standings after the regular season and is the highest-seeded team going into the playoffs.

At the 16U level, the Toronto Mets 16U Orange squad will lead the way into the post-season, after going an unprecedented 25-1 throughout the regular season and winning 20 straight games. The highest seed will look to keep the success going in Aurora, at Stuart Burnett park, where all 16U playoff games will be played.

Among 17U squads, Great Lake, the Ontario Astros, and the Toronto Mets Blue and Orange teams will battle it out for the league championship at their division. All games will be played between St. Marys and Dorchester, again at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Field of Dreams, with all the action set to start on Friday.

At the highest level of the circuit, all six programs will battle it out for the top spot in the CPBL. All games will take place at the University of Toronto – Scarborough field, and the highest-seeded team in the post-season is the GLC 18U squad.