Tag: regular season

Ontario Nationals ready for fourth CPBL season

Ahead of the fourth season of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the Ontario Nationals are excited about what they have been able to accomplish in the circuit so far and are looking forward to striving for more.

After coming close to bringing home a trophy last year, the organization is hoping to build off of its successes and rack up the accolades over the course of this season.

“Last season was a step in the right direction,” Nationals director of baseball operations Jeremy Jayaweera said. “We had two teams play into the last day of the CPBL championships, with one of those teams being just one pitch away from clinching a championship. Our 18U team has a lot of returning players in their last year before heading to school, so being in their second year and knowing what to expect, I know this team will turn some heads.

“For our 15U and 16U squads, they are coming off strong seasons and are looking to take the next step. At our youngest level, 14U, we basically brought in a new crop of players – total athletes we know will be ready to compete day in and day out. The competition in this league is second to none and we will be ready come May.”

For the Nats, last year was highlighted by the improvements experienced at multiple levels, and the organization hopes that is a trend that will continue.

“Some notable moments from last year include out 15U and 16U teams playing on Sundays at huge events in the USA,” Jayaweera said. “Our 16U team fell short in two championship games against top teams in extras. Our 15U team really showed pride, and the development from year to year was amazing.

“When our 15U group was at the 14U level, they won three games; last year, they won over 20. They have something to prove this year and you can already see it in their off-season mentality. Watching our players grow from year to year is a feeling you cannot describe. The most impressive part is that from 14U to 18U, none of our players are satisfied – there is always more to give.”

With the winter well underway, the Nationals have made some off-season additions and changes to their regular programming and are looking forward to seeing the results when they are able to get out on the field.

“Our off-season started with weight training in October,” Jayaweera said. “We put them through vigorous training, which still continues. We have always been a great hitting organization from top to bottom – nothing changes there.

“The fielding and throwing programs are our main two focuses this off-season. With that, we have incorporated a Driveline program for our players to follow. It is still early but with consistent effort and training we believe we will take the next step this spring. We have also brought in a strength and pitching instructor Kurtis Robinson to help with our teams.”

Heading into the season and gearing up for CPBL play, the Nationals are excited to look forward to a new pre-season event and mix up their typical spring training routine for the year.

“We have also entered our 15U to 18U teams in the [Prep Baseball Report] Canada spring training showcase in Florida,” the program’s director of baseball operations said. “Having gone to play at Dodgertown for the previous three years, when we were invited to this event, we could not say no. With the exposure, practices, games, and a scout day, these players will have every opportunity to better themselves.

“After Florida, we will come back for a few weeks and gear up for the season. With some of the athletes we recruited and different programs we put in place this off-season, we can feel a different spark within the organization, which we hope continues into CPBL play.”

Beyond the season and with an eye on the future, the Nationals have right-hander Andrew Hazell heading to Mars Hill University, along with several alumni members of the organization making moves and changes for the fall.

Canadians 18U squad look to take regular-season success into playoffs

With playoffs about to start, the final weekend of the Canadian Premier Baseball League season set to begin, and victors of the regular season looking to try to keep their winning going into the post-season, the Great Lake Canadians 18U squad is hoping to do just that. 

The Great Lake organization felt it had a strong team as it began the CPBL season this summer, but the squad that finished with a 20-4 record, four games ahead of its closest competitor, and with just one loss in its last 10 games exceeded the high expectations it began with. 

“Coach [Kirk] Barclay and I had big expectations for these guys leading into the season,” GLC 18U manager Adam Stern said. “We thought that we had a perfect mix of guys on the mound, position players who are a little more dynamic, guys who could play multiple positions, we had speed, and we had defence. To be honest, as much as we expected from the pitching staff, they actually exceeded our expectations. Guys have really stepped up and they’ve been really competitive on the mound.” 

With all of its success, the Canadians 18U team also winning plenty of games south of the border throughout the year, the thing that most impressed its manager was the atmosphere the players created for themselves to play in. 

“These guys are a resilient group of players,” Stern said. “They never hit the panic button, and they play well together as a team. You’re starting to see a culmination of guys playing together for a few years and really coming together. These guys have gelled really well together, and it’s been one of those good team dynamics, and it’s been a real positive for this group.” 

Great Lake topped a regular-season leaderboard among six total teams, with the Fieldhouse Pirates not far behind with a 16-8 record, and the Ontario Blue Jays in third, finishing with 13 wins and 10 losses. 

“Any game in the CPBL, you’ve got to show up to play,” the Canadians skipper said. “We told our guys all the time that we were giving away a few wins here and there, which is what happens when you don’t finish the deal. You’ve got to come in ready to play all the teams. We had some rainouts early in the season, where we lost a few games too, but with this group there were never any big blowouts. They really had to step up on the mound, and our guys knew that any team could beat you on any day.” 

As they prepare to begin their quest for a playoff victory, the GLC 18U team understands that they have to continue to face and overcome the challenges that the league presents, and all of its players have their eyes on one last prize before they venture off to an array of fall destinations, and looking to seal the deal. 

“We’ve been in this spot before,” Stern said. “Where we’ve had a good team during the regular season and then we just didn’t piece it all together at the end. Obviously in the format the tournament is, you’ve got to be hot at the right time, and when it’s a double-elimination format, you could get upset at any time. Really, we preach that we’ve got to finish the deal here. You’ve got to grout, put the regular season on the back burner, and compete like it’s a tournament because if you lose two, you go home, and we’re not looking to do that.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toronto Mets

GLC 15U Black squad tops division leaderboard with strong season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GLC 14U Red squad finishes atop CPBL regular season standings at youngest level

The Canadian Premier Baseball League’s regular season has come to an end, and the circuit now officially has regular-season champions at all of its levels, with one of the youngest squads in the league coming out on top of the youngest age group. 

At the 14U level, the Great Lake Canadians Red team topped all others, finishing the season with an 18-3 record, more than three games ahead of the next-closest team in the standings. The squad was one that the program felt would find success right from the start, but the organization still wasn’t entirely sure of what it was capable of. 

“Right from the start, we knew these kids could hit,” GLC 14U Red manager Brad McElroy said. “We didn’t know how they were going to pitch or how they were going to field but everybody with the Great Lake organization knew we had kids who could hit. But at the start, we weren’t really hitting that well, just because of timing and kids were nervous. We have a very quiet team, so a lot of guys were almost afraid to make mistakes, and afraid to swing at a fastball in a fastball count. They didn’t want to get out, so we had to get that out of their systems. 

“We pitched really well at the start of the year and went with that, and then our bats came alive. The story of this team is that if we can play defence, we can win. The games we’ve lost, we’ve fallen off and made a lot of errors, so pitching and hitting has been huge for this team. And the pitching isn’t overpowering, we just don’t walk people. That’s been our philosophy – go after people, and if you get hit, who cares?”

Throughout the duration of the season, the thing that most impressed the team’s skipper was the squad’s demeanour, how they handled themselves on and off the field, and the attitude they took into every matchup. 

“What I really like about this team is how quiet they are,” McElroy said. “I’ve never had a team this quiet. Guys don’t joke around much, and maybe that’s because of me, but they just go out there and play. It’s literally like work and they’re just getting the job done. It’s a quiet team that’s also really good, which I really like because they don’t tell me, they show me. They go out and play hard.”

Great Lake’s Red team finished atop a leaderboard with eight other teams, just ahead of the Ontario Blue Jays, who finished with a 15-7 record, and the Ontario Astros, who ended the season at 11-6. The Canadians’ Black squad finished in fourth, with a 13-10 regular-season record. 

“The competition in the CPBL is the best it’s been,” McElroy said. “The first year we played in it, we were undefeated in the regular season, and last year our record wasn’t that good and we played against better teams, and this year teams are even better. There’s a lot of good competition.”

After winning nine of its last 10 regular-season games, the GLC Red team will look to keep the winning going into the post-season. Its manager believes there’s just one thing they need to do in order to find success in the league’s playoffs. 

“Defence,” McElroy said. “Honestly, we just have to play our game and not mentally collapse in the field. If we can do what we’ve done, pitching-wise – throw strikes and attack the zone – and swing the bat like we can, I don’t think any team can beat us.”

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.