Tag: Tri-City Giants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Lake’s Black squad secures championship at CPBL’s 14U level

From the start of the season, Matt Bowden, the manager of the Great Lake Canadians 14U Black squad, believed that if his squad played to the best of its ability throughout the year, it could be poised to secure another championship at the youngest level of the Canadian Premier Baseball League.

“At the beginning of the year, I thought for sure we would be a good team, especially having a lot of guys who were returning at 14U within the program,” Bowden said. “Looking at our team from the start, I thought we would have the pitching to definitely get deep into tournaments and to keep us in a lot of games and that was definitely something that came through throughout the season for us.”

Great Lake’s 14U Black team performed on all sides of the ball during the year, helping the squad to the top of the regular season leaderboard before capturing the trophy to cap it off.

“Offensively, we improved throughout the year, put together a lot of good at-bats and really grinded out at-bats and were able to push runs across that way,” the Canadians manager said. “Defensively we were solid, made the plays that we needed to, and it allowed us to stay in games and eventually come out on top.”

In Great Lake’s first game of the 14U postseason, it took on the Ontario Nationals team, securing a victory before matching up against Team Ontario for its second win. For the Canadians’ third win of the playoff tournament and for the championship, they played the Fieldhouse Pirates in back-to-back games, beating them twice.

“In the semi-finals against Fieldhouse, Trevor Syer pitched probably one of the best 14U games I’ve seen in the last couple of years,” Bowden said. “He used three pitches and was able to mow down a good-hitting lineup. Our offence was steady throughout, a lot of good at-bats finding ways to cash runners when we had them in scoring position.

“In the last game against Fieldhouse again, it was a complete team effort. All 14 guys on the team found a way to get in and contribute. I was really impressed by Ashton Graff-Rowe at the top of our order. He’s always finding a way to set the tone and really kickstart our offence there for the guys in the middle to do some damage. The bottom of our order also grinded out good at-bats, finding ways to get on base to roll that lineup over to the top again.”

Sealing the deal in the last win of the season, the elation of Bowden’s team spread to its coaching staff and was enjoyable for all involved.

“It was awesome,” he said. “Throughout the year they experienced a lot of success and they hadn’t really been rewarded with the kind of championships they were looking for, so to come through at the end and see it come to fruition and finish out on top was awesome to see. The group really bonded well together and you could tell they wanted to win not only for themselves but for each other.”

Among the characteristics that most impressed the skipper of Great Lake’s 14U Black team, there were two things that really stood out as the season progressed.

“Our pitching was something that we definitely really leaned on,” Bowden said. “Our starters were really able to give us good innings, get deep into their starts and keep us in games that way. Whether our bats were on or they were struggling a little bit, we felt we could lean on our arms to keep us close and keep us in games.

“The other thing that at least toward the end of the year that started to show up a little bit was the hitters starting to play selfless baseball, finding ways to move runners over or cash runners when we needed them. They really bought into the team game and didn’t care as much about the individual accolades, which was nice to see.”

The championship at the 14U level was one of four trophies the Great Lake program secured among the five total CPBL championships, also winning at the 15U, 16U and 17U levels, with the Ontario Blue Jays coming out on top of the 18U division.

“It just cements that this is one of the top programs, not only for development but as a perennial program throughout the country and throughout the province that is here to compete, here to win,” Bowden said. “At the end of the day, those weekends where we had four of five championships really showed the strength that we have in our program.”

15U, 16U and 17U Canadian Premier Baseball League playoffs set to start

Following championships at the youngest and oldest levels of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, with the Ontario Blue Jays taking the 18U crown and the Great Lake Canadians Black 14U squad earning a trophy, the league will see its next winners crowned at the 15U, 16U and 17U levels at the end of this week and over the upcoming weekend.

The 17U event is set to begin on Thursday and run until Saturday, with Sunday to be utilized if a rain date is needed. All 17U games will take place between the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys and the Field of Dreams in Dorchester. Six teams will face a double-elimination format to see who will leave champions of the 2019 season after the Ontario Blue Jays Travers squad finished atop the regular season leaderboard.

The league’s 16U postseason play will take place over the same set of days, between Rivergrove Park in Mississauga and Stuart Burnett Field in Aurora, hosted by the Ontario Astros and the Ontario Blue Jays. At the 16U level, eight teams will battle through the double-elimination format to find a champion, after the Great Lake Canadians finished atop the standings at the end of the regular season.

At the 15U level, playoffs will begin on Wednesday and run through to Friday, with Saturday as an alternate date if necessary because of weather. Games will also be played at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as well as at the Field of Dreams, in addition to Citywide Sports Complex in London. The 15U champion will be crowned out of eight teams at the level, with the Great Lake Canadians Black squad coming out on top of the regular season standings.

As a reminder, the CPBL bylaws will be followed for all games. Matchups will be seven innings in length, and limited to two-and-a-half hours, with extra innings permitted within the time limitations. The higher seeded squad in the league standings will be the home team throughout the playoffs. The run rule remains in effect for the entire tournament.

If a game is tied as time expires, the international tie-breaker rule will come into effect. Each team will start their half of the inning with the previous two batters from the inning prior on first and second base with none out.

Games will run ahead of schedule when and wherever possible, and we wish the best of luck to all players and teams participating in the upcoming event.

14U Canadian Premier Baseball League playoffs set to get underway

As the summer continues and various age groups complete their seasons, the Canadian Premier Baseball League will see its next winner crowned at the 14U level.

The playoffs at the youngest age group in the circuit follow a win at the highest level of the CPBL by the Ontario Blue Jays, taking the 18U championship earlier this year.

Atop the 14U leaderboard to finish out the regular season sits the Great Lake Canadians Black squad, one that lost only three games all season long. Not far behind are two OBJ squads, with Collymore sitting at the No. 2 seed in the standings and Naylor in third place. All standings are based upon winning percentage, with ties taken into account.

The postseason for all 14U teams is set to begin this Thursday and finish on Saturday, with all games played between the Field of Dreams in Dorchester and the Rotary Field at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, hosted by the GLC organization. Eight teams will face a double-elimination format to see who will leave champions of the 2019 season. Sunday will be utilized as a rain date for any 14U games that may be postponed throughout the postseason.

As a reminder, the CPBL bylaws will be followed for all games. Matchups will be seven innings in length, and limited to two-and-a-half hours, with extra innings permitted within the time limitations. The higher seeded squad in the league standings will be the home team throughout the playoffs. The run rule remains in effect for the entire tournament.

If a game is tied as time expires, the international tie-breaker rule will come into effect. Each team will start their half of the inning with the previous two batters from the inning prior on first and second base with none out.

Games will run ahead of schedule when and wherever possible, and we wish the best of luck to all players and teams participating in the upcoming event.

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.

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.”

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. 

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.”