Tag: Toronto Mets

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.

Six CPBL players selected in 2019 MLB draft

Among the 25 Canadian players selected in this year’s draft — including 12 total high schoolers — all six players selected out of Ontario high schools are representatives of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, and were chosen from the Ontario Blue Jays, Great Lake Canadians and Toronto Mets organizations.

Dasan Brown was not only the first CPBL player off the draft board, but the first Canadian of the entire class, when the Toronto Blue Jays selected the speedy Ontario Blue Jays outfielder in the third round, with the 88th overall pick.

Brown is one of the fastest players in the 2019 Draft class — if not the fastest — with 70-grade speed according to MLB Pipeline, and 80-grade speed according to Baseball America, and the athletic outfielder has been consistently ranked as the best Canadian prospect this year. He should be a plus defender, and though there is much room for improvement at the plate, he was heavily scouted facing professional competition with Team Canada, giving an easy glimpse into his future.

“Dasan is a quick-twitch athletic outfielder who has the ability to change a game with the speed he plays at,” said OBJ 18U manager Joe Ellison. “His athleticism has been something we’ve seen since he was 15 years old, but his hard work has paid off in the cages to improve his ability to hit, and hit with power, over the last three years. He’s also the type of player who doesn’t shy away from leading a team both on and off the field.”

The second CPBL player selected in the draft was another Ontario Blue Jays player — also a representative of the Canadian Junior National Team — infielder TJ Schofield-Sam, who was taken by the Oakland Athletics in the 12th round, the 374th overall selection.

“TJ is easily one of the best hitters I’ve ever coached,” Ellison said. “He is a pure hitter, no matter the count, pitcher, field or score. TJ is going to give you a great at-bat, and come through in the most clutch situations. His approach is mature, well beyond his age, and he has incredible plate coverage and discipline.

“He is a quiet leader who takes his leadership onto the field and lets his performance lead the way.”

A third OBJ player came off the board in the 40th round with the 1203rd pick of the draft, when the Washington Nationals selected shortstop Jaden Brown, a Mississauga native who is committed to the University of Kentucky.

“Jaden is an incredible athlete, who is as physical as he is athletic,” Ellison said. “He brings explosive actions to everything that he does, and contributes to every team he’s a part of. He features plus power, plus speed, and plus arm strength from shortstop. He’s a leader both on and off the field, and continues to be one of the hardest-working players in our program.”

Owen Diodati, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound left-handed-hitting backstop from Niagara Falls became the third CPBL player taken off the draft board and the third Canadian selected by the Blue Jays when Toronto called the Great Lake Canadians catcher’s name in the 29th round, with the 867th overall pick.

“He’s been one of our hardest workers,” GLC director of baseball operations Chris Robinson said of Diodati. “He’s just the type of kid you don’t bet against. He’s a really mature kid on and off the field in terms of his approach to the game. Offensively, he’s got that professional approach already.

“I know there were some questions of whether he could catch, and I was impressed with how he went about that. He went and spent his entire off-season with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder to prove that he could catch, and it’s pretty cool today getting drafted as a catcher. That’s a cool thing for Owen because I know that’s something he believes in and he really wants to fulfill.”

Added Diodati: “The Blue Jays were one of the teams that really believed in me as a catcher and thought I could do well back there and stay behind the plate regardless of what the bat is and what usually happens to guys like me in pro baseball.

“That was something I talked to [Robinson] about from the very start – I wanted to catch. For them to believe in me and to draft me as a catcher, it’s definitely special. It speaks to the hard work I put it, but also drives me and fuels me to keep working, because I know it’s possible if I really want to do it.”

Two Toronto Mets players round out the total of CPBL representatives selected in the draft. Ryan Leitch, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound catcher from Whitby with a commitment to Marshall University was taken in the 29th round of the selection process by the Cincinnati Reds.

 

“Just being selected was the most exciting part of the draft, honestly,” the 17-year-old said. “Hearing my name being called was special. I’ve always dreamed about hearing, ‘Ryan Leitch, selected by a team,’ and then to hear it finally happen, it’s just surreal. I was at a loss for words when it happened.”

Leitch was followed by fellow Toronto Mets player Keegan Pulford-Thorpe, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound left-handed pitcher, committed to Central Florida University, who was taken by the San Diego Padres in the 33rd round.

“It was really exciting,” Pulford-Thorpe said. “I was actually just sitting down working on some homework, because I have an assignment due, and I got a call from an unknown number who I didn’t have a contact for. I didn’t really think much of it, so I picked it up and it was [Canadian scout] Murray Zuk from the Padres calling me, telling me I’d been drafted. Then I went on my phone and saw different messages from people, and it was an amazing feeling.”

Toronto Mets Ryan Leitch and Keegan Pulford-Thorpe selected in 2019 MLB Draft

When two Toronto Mets players heard their names called during Major League Baseball’s draft on Wednesday, they couldn’t have been more excited, or more proud of each other.

Ryan Leitch, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound catcher from Whitby with a commitment to Marshall University was taken in the 29th round of the selection process by the Cincinnati Reds, becoming the fourth Canadian Premier Baseball League player off the board.

“Just being selected was the most exciting part of the draft, honestly,” the 17-year-old said. “Hearing my name being called was special. I’ve always dreamed about hearing, ‘Ryan Leitch, selected by a team,’ and then to hear it finally happen, it’s just surreal. I was at a loss for words when it happened.”

“It’s a huge honour. Having an opportunity to potentially play in the big leagues someday has always been a dream of mine, so for it to be able to become a reality is pretty awesome.”

Leitch was followed by Keegan Pulford-Thorpe, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound left-handed pitcher, committed to Central Florida University, who was taken by the San Diego Padres in the 33rd round.

“It was really exciting,” Pulford-Thorpe said. “I was actually just sitting down working on some homework, because I have an assignment due, and I got a call from an unknown number who I didn’t have a contact for. I didn’t really think much of it, so I picked it up and it was [Canadian scout] Murray Zuk from the Padres calling me, telling me I’d been drafted. Then I went on my phone and saw different messages from people, and it was an amazing feeling.”

Both players are incredibly grateful for the time they’ve spent with the Mets and the Canadian Junior National Team, that helped put them in a position to be choosing between impressive American college opportunities and the professional realm of the game.

“They’ve helped me a lot,” Leitch said. “They’ve gotten me out there exposure-wise, so scouts and coaches and people like that can see me play, and the Junior National Team is such a cool experience, getting a taste of what minor league baseball is really like and playing against all the pro guys.”

Added Pulford-Thorpe: “I owe them everything. The development I’ve gotten from those places is unbelievable. They’ve been the basis of everything that’s helped me accomplish everything. It’s been due to them. They’ve helped me make connections, helped me get onto teams, and to develop and get better. I can’t thank them enough.”

Through the 40 rounds of the draft, a total of 25 Canadian players were selected. The two young Mets couldn’t be more proud to be among them.

“It’s something special that being on the national team, we’ve all been working towards together,” Pulford-Thorpe said of being one of 25 selected. “We were all really pulling for each other. I was glued to the draft, not even looking for my name, but watching the other guys’ names come up throughout the day.

“It’s something special for all of us and we’re all kind of sharing it together. It’s not just one guy getting drafted when one of us is selected, we all worked together for that, so we all feel special about it.”

Both Mets players were just as excited to see one another’s name as they were their own.

“It was great,” Pulford-Thorpe said of seeing Leitch’s name. “He happened a little before me, so it was funny because he was saying, ‘You’re soon,’ and I kind of brushed it off and said, ‘I hope so.’ But I followed him and it’s awesome. It’s great to see him there too.”

Added Leitch: “I’m really proud of Keegan. He’s probably one of the most deserving guys I know. He works 24/7, he’s always trying to get better and to better himself, and he’s a good guy. I couldn’t be more proud of the guy.”

The entire Mets organization couldn’t be more proud of their players as they take their next steps in the game.

“It is always a proud and special moment when any of our current and former players are drafted and I am so happy for all of them,” Toronto Mets president of baseball Ryan McBride said. “This one, however, has special meaning for me personally. I remember the phone call from West Virginia when Ryan Leitch was born. He has worked extremely hard and it is very exciting to watch him begin to realize his baseball goals.”

Added coach Honsing Leung: “Keegan has been a part of the Mets family since 2016 and continues to be one of the leaders of the program through his dedication and hard work. He has a tireless work ethic and is a humble person, traits that will allow him to succeed at the next level, no matter what obstacles are thrown his way. We are all excited to see him progress in the future.”

Leitch and Pulford-Thorpe were two of just 25 Canadians selected in the 2019 draft, and a pair among six CPBL players chosen, joining Ontario Blue Jays Dasan Brown, TJ Schofield-Sam and Jaden Brown, taken in the third, 12th and 40th rounds, respectively, and Great Lake Canadians catcher Owen Diodati, selected in the 29th round.

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.

Toronto Mets look to build on last year’s championship season

After an incredibly successful third season in the Canadian Premier Baseball League last year, the Toronto Mets organization is excited about what the fourth season may bring, and can’t wait to get started.

Working hard, getting better and winning championships were all a part of the recipe for success the Mets showed on the field, taking home the titles at both the 16U and 17U levels of the circuit, and they are looking forward to replicating that once again throughout the upcoming year.

“2018 was a good year for the program,” Mets 18U manager Rich Leitch said. “We managed to win the 17U and the 16U league titles, which was big, and they were the first two in program history for us since the start of the CPBL.

“For us, the competition in the league is second to none, so it really helped us and all of our teams, when we were going into US tournaments our guys were really prepared because of the type of competition we faced on a weekly basis in the CPBL.”

Hoisting two of the league’s trophies to finish out a season of achievements certainly made the top of the list of memorable moments for the program.

“The highlight of the season was the two championships we won,” Leitch said. “Then having the guys we had who represented the country with the Canadian Junior National Team, which just further shows the level of development that we’ve got going on with the program. But if I had to pick one, it was the two CPBL championships that we won as a program.”

The Mets have spent the off-season preparing for what’s next, with an eye on development and the focus on the program’s culture throughout the winter months.

“We started up right after Christmas,” Leitch said. “We gave our guys probably two months off where there was strictly strength and conditioning training only. Now we’ve moved into really heavy position-specific stuff, so all our guys are working together from 14U all the way up to 18U.

“So the younger guys have an opportunity to work with our older guys so they can see how it’s supposed to be done. And for our older guys, it gives them an opportunity to teach the culture of our program to our younger guys.”

Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Leitch and the Mets are excited to get out on the diamond to see what their players can do.

“We’ve got talented groups at a number of levels,” Leitch said. “I hate being inside so we are looking forward to getting outside. And for me personally, I’ve coached with and against most of the kids in the 2001 age group since the time they were in rookie ball, so it’s kind of bittersweet that they’ll be moving on next year. It’s been interesting over the years to see them grow from little kids into very productive young men and I look forward to the season.”

Looking beyond the upcoming CPBL season, the Toronto Mets have a number of students committed for the 2019 school year, with Jacob Bonzon heading to Roanoke College, Cal Brazier and Matt Ferris going to Niagara County Community College, Eric Chartier off to the University of Charleston, Noel McGarry-Doyle heading to Jefferson College, Kieran Gagnon off to Gannon University, Zach Gardiner and Ryan Leitch going to Marshall University, Liam Hicks to Arkansas State, Noah Hull to Iowa Western, Carter Seabrooke off to South Carolina at Sumter, Keegan Pulford-Thorpe heading to Central Florida and Matt Turino committed to the University of Tennessee.

 

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.”

CPBL well represented at the sixth-annual Tournament 12

Following a successful finish to the third Canadian Premier Baseball League season, many of the circuit’s players will continue to represent on the highest stage right at home, with 39 players and four coaches representing the loop at the sixth-annual Tournament 12. 

Heading to the prestigious Toronto Blue Jays-hosted event for his third time, Ontario Blue Jays shortstop Jaden Brown couldn’t be more excited for what his final appearance at the tournament may bring, and hopes to share what he learned from his previous experiences with those who may be less familiar. 

“I was really nervous the first time I came to T12,” the 16-year-old said. “I just didn’t want to mess up…But at the end of the day, it’s not really about that. It’s more about your attitude and how you show yourself on the field. Scouts realize you’re young and you’ll grow into it. 

“So if I could give advice to players coming in for the first time, it would be to not try too hard. Last year was easier because I was already there and I already knew how it would go, so I just went out and did my thing. And it’s still exciting for this year because this is going to be my last year and I just want to have fun with it.” 

Owen Diodati, a catcher in the Great Lake Canadians organization, is also heading into his third appearance at Tournament 12, and is grateful for everything he’s learned along the way, also looking forward to another chance to play at Rogers Centre. 

“In my first year of T12, it was the first time I really had a chance to play against good competition, and I was playing against the best kids in Canada, so in a way it was a wakeup call for me too,” Diodati said. “Obviously I struggled a little bit at the time, and it was tough the first year, but it gave me an idea of what it takes to be a good player and play at the highest level…

“This year is different because I know what to expect. The first year was kind of a whirlwind, playing at Rogers Centre and going through it all. Last year, I settled in and started to compete, and this year obviously I want to go in and dominate if I can do so.”

Beginning on September 13, Tournament 12 will take over Rogers Centre and play host to 160 of the country’s best up-and-coming college-eligible players. Among the 54 Ontario players selected to the Black, Navy and Green rosters, 39 hail from CPBL programs – representing the Fieldhouse Pirates, Great Lake Canadians, Ontario Blue Jays, Toronto Mets and Tri-City Giants organizations – in addition to four of the league’s coaches. 

The Futures Navy squad features eight CPBL players including Turner Spoljaric, Mitchell Bratt, Calvin Ziegler, Caden Shapiro, Owen Caissie, Riley Silva, Josh Niles and Cole Iantomasi. Navy also houses one CPBL coach in Brock Kjeldgaard. 

The Ontario Green roster has the highest number of players from the league with 18, including Brandon Deans, Lukas Barry, Nick Fraser, Matt Nolin, Zach Cameron, Graham MacNeil, Caleb Clark, Kieran Gagnon, Joel McKnight, Noel McGarry Doyle, Zach Gardiner, Blake Buckle, Ryan Farther, Noah Hull, TJ Schofield-Sam, Tye Imeson, Bryce Arnold and Drew Howard. Green is also home to CPBL coaches Adam Stern and Chris Robinson. 

Ontario Black is home to 13 CPBL players, with Caden Griffin, Keegan Pulford-Thorpe, Carter Seabrooke, Matt Duffy, Dasan Brown, Eric Martin, Diodati, Ryan Leitch, Brown, David McCabe, Biran Zapp, Tyler Hinrikus and Kenny Diclemente. The Black team is also host to CPBL coach Mike Steed. 

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.”