IBL Quarter Season Update

img_6186By Blake Stepien
We are only slightly past the quarter-way point of the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) season, but already we have seen a fair share of blowouts, pitcher’s duels and outstanding individual performances. Here is a breakdown of each team’s season to date:


Barrie Baycats (10-0)

​The three-time reigning champs are back at it again this year as they began their season and their winning games in every way possible. They are winning the close games, they are winning the blowouts. Their excellent offensive attack this season can be credited for constantly producing enough to win, as the Baycats pitching staff has had an up and down season up to this point. Claudio Custudio has been the lone qualified pitcher to out-perform expectations for the Baycats this season, as a majority of their big names have struggled (by their standards) to this point. The Baycats hold the highest team batting average in the IBL at .335, to go along with 13 team home runs and 107 runs scored vs. 57 (49 earned) against. Although they have not faced the London Majors to this point due to a couple of rainouts, they boast at least 1 win against every other team in the league already, proving their utter dominance in the first quarter of the season.


Individual Statistics Leaders:

Average (among qualified hitters): Ryan Spataro- .525

OBP (among qualified hitters): Ryan Spataro- .627

Home Runs: Jordan Castaldo- 3

RBIs: Jordan Castaldo- 17


Wins: Brett Lawson- 3

ERA (among qualified pitchers): Claudio Custudio- 0.00

Strikeouts: Emilis Guerrero- 20

Innings Pitched: Emilis Guerrero- 24.0


Brantford Red Sox (2-9)

After a decade of fielding outstanding teams on an annual basis, early results this season suggest that the Red Sox have finally taken a step back in the IBL. The two wins they have accumulated up to this point have come against fellow strugglers in the Guelph Royals and Burlington Herd (formerly Burlington Bandits). However, this record may be misleading as the Red Sox currently boast a 2-6 record in games decided by 2 runs or less. Through this stretch, the pitching and hitting units have each seen some good individual performances. However, neither unit has been able to provide that extra amount of grit required to come out as winners in such close games. Look for Brantford to begin coming out on top in some of these games as they begin their climb to .500 in the 2nd quarter of the season.

Individual Statistics Leaders:

Average (among qualified hitters): Ricky Murray- .364

OBP (among qualified hitters): Ricky Murray- .451

Home Runs: Chris Dennis, Dan Jagdeo- 3

RBIs: Chris Dennis, Dan Jagdeo- 13


Wins: Tyler Soucie, Charlie Sobieraski- 1

ERA (among qualified pitchers): Matt Betts- 2.92

Strikeouts: Tyler Guindon- 11

Innings Pitched: Matt Martinow- 15.0


Burlington Herd (3-8)

​After beginning the season 0-7, the Herd have finally appeared to have found some momentum rattling off 3 wins (their first 3 of the season) from June 8th-10th, before ultimately falling to Barrie on June 11th. The Herd have had some excellent pitching performances, as well as some that were quite the opposite. Rich Corrente has been an excellent addition to the Herd, as he currently boasts a 1.12 ERA in 24 innings pitched. Christian Hauck (2.61) and Adam Prashad (2.89) also boast ERAs under 3.00 to provide a decent trio of pitchers to work with on any given night (although Corrente and Prashad have been starting for the most part). The offence has been led by Justin Gideon who is having his finest IBL season yet, boasting a .444 average with 7 doubles in 45 at bats. Canice Ejoh has also been a key contributor on the offensive end as he holds a .342 average and 8 RBIs in 38 at bats. Moving forward it will be interesting to see if Burlington trends towards the team that began the season 0-7, or the team that is 3-1 in their last 4.


Individual Statistics Leaders:

Average (among qualified hitters): Justin Gideon- .444

OBP (among qualified hitters): Justin Gideon .528

Home Runs: Canice Ejoh, Ryan Freemantle, Justin Gideon- 1

RBIs: Canice Ejoh: 8


Wins: Rich Corrente, Ryan Beckett, Adam Prashad- 1

ERA (among qualified pitchers): Rich Corrente- 1.13

Strikeouts: Adam Prashad- 23

Innings Pitched: Rich Corrente- 24.0


Guelph Royals (1-11)

​Another tough start for the Royals this season as they have already come out on the losing end of some tough scores. Although their offence has scored 28 runs in their last 4 games, they did not manage to win a single one of these games, as their pitchers once again have not managed to provide what is needed for the Royals to string some wins together. The team features 7 pitchers with ERAs over 10.00, making it difficult to come out on top, even though their offence has been putting up more than enough runs as of late. Moving forward, look for the Royals to experience similar results, unless their pitchers begin to turn it around and get key outs when needed.


Individual Statistics Leaders:

Average (among qualified hitters): Matt Schmidt- .333

OBP (among qualified hitters): Marquis Kidd- .386

Home Runs: Matt Schmidt- 3

RBIs: Matt Schmidt, Marquis Kidd- 9


Wins: Ben Reid- 1

ERA (among qualified pitchers): Matt Vucovich- 5.28

Strikeouts: Ben Reid- 10

Innings Pitched: Adrian Yuen- 17.0


Hamilton Cardinals (1-7)

​After only playing their 2nd game of the season on May 31st due to 5 rainouts in their first 6 scheduled games, the Hamilton Cardinals have struggled out of the gate this season. Collecting only 1 win, coming in the second half of a double header against the Royals, the Cardinals struggled to the tune of a .207 team batting average and an 8.70 team ERA. The Cardinals latest loss came at the hands of the London Majors by a score of 8-7, but besides this game, and a 4-3 loss to the Royals, they have played in very few close games this season. Moving forward look for more of the same from the Cardinals as both the offence and pitching staff are not producing enough to keep them in games.


Individual Statistics Leaders:

Average (among qualified hitters): Greg Marco- .250

OBP (among qualified hitters): Chris Beer- .441

Home Runs: Connor Bowie- 2

RBIs: Connor Bowie- 8


Wins: Jake Foden- 1

ERA (among qualified pitchers): Chris Lazar, Dan Weagle- 7.59

Strikeouts: Chris Lazar- 10

Innings Pitched: Chris Lazar, Dan Weagle- 10.2


Kitchener Panthers (9-2)

​A well-balanced Kitchener Panthers team has jumped out to a 9-2 record this year, with both of their early losses coming at the hands of the Barrie Baycats. Boasting a .322 team batting average as well as a 3.55 team ERA, the Panthers are likely the most balanced team in the IBL this season. Some gaudy offensive numbers have already been put up by the Panthers this year, as Yorbis Borroto is hitting .500, and all-time IBL hits leader Sean Reilly has 8 home runs and 22 RBIs already. On the pitching side, Matt McGovern sports a 1.63 ERA with Mike Schnurr not far behind him at 2.02. Look for the Panthers to continue thrashing teams this season as they come at you with a good attack on both sides of the ball.


Individual Statistics Leaders:

Average (among qualified hitters): Yorbis Borroto- .500

OBP (among qualified hitters): Yorbis Borroto- .600

Home Runs: Sean Reilly- 8

RBIs: Sean Reilly- 22


Wins: Noelvis Entenza, Ian Rendon- 2

ERA (among qualified pitchers): Matt McGovern- 1.63

Strikeouts: Noelvis Entenza- 31

Innings Pitched: Noelvis Entenza- 22.1


London Majors (10-0)

​Pitching is the name of the game for the London Majors, as they currently boast a 2.72 team ERA through 10 games this season. Led by Murilo Gouvea at 0.81, Luis Sanchez at 2.62, and an excellent bullpen, the Majors come at you with series of strong arms every night. Offensively, the Majors have been led by Byron Reichstein with a .375 average and 16 RBIs in just 10 games played. It is important to recognize that the Majors have yet to play either the Baycats or the Panthers, so look out for these matchups to establish exactly who the powerhouse of the IBL this season will be.


Individual Statistics Leaders:

Average (among qualified hitters): Byron Reichstein- .375

OBP (among qualified hitters): Byron Reichstein- .490

Home Runs: Cleveland Brownlee- 4

RBIs: Byron Reichstein- 16


Wins: Luis Sanchez- 4

ERA (among qualified pitchers): Murilo Gouvea- 0.81

Strikeouts: Murilo Gouvea, Luis Sanchez – 31

Innings Pitched: Luis Sanchez- 24.0


Toronto Maple Leafs (6-5)

​The Toronto Maple Leafs have managed to play above .500 ball in the first quarter of the season, thanks in large parge to a decently balanced attack with no glaring weakness, but no outstanding strength either. Offensively they have been led by Ryan White (.355) Jonathan Solazzo (.308), Tyler Hardie (3 home runs, 12 RBIs), and Justin Marra (3 home runs, 12 RBIs). On the pitching end, they have been led by Justin Cicatello who boasts a miniscule 1.39 ERA in 32.1 innings pitched this season. Moving forward, look for this well balanced team to continue around a .500 record, as they have the roster to beat all the bottom-feeders on a regular basis, but perhaps lack the star power to take down the powerhouses.


Individual Statistics Leaders:

Average (among qualified hitters): Ryan White- .355

OBP (among qualified hitters): Ryan White- .500

Home Runs: Tyler Hardie, Justin Marra – 3

RBIs: Tyler Hardie, Justine Marra- 12


Wins: Justin Cicatello- 2

ERA (among qualified pitchers): Justin Cicatello- 1.39

Strikeouts: Justin Cicatello – 16

Innings Pitched: Justin Cicatello- 32.1


Quarter Season Awards

MVP- Sean Reilly (.341 avg, 8 HR, 22 RBI

Cy Young- Muilo Gouvea (2 W, 0.81 ERA, 31 Strikeouts)

Rookie of the Year- Yulexis La Rosa (.432 avg, 1 HR, 6 RBIs)



​Although the Intercounty Baseball League lacks parity, it certainly does not lack excitement. The outstanding quantity of outstanding home grown hitters matched up against the large amount of import pitchers around the league sets the stage for exciting games night-in and night-out. For those that do not frequent IBL games, this league is highly recommended summer entertainment for a very affordable price. The quality of baseball on display in this league is quite simply among the highest you can find in Ontario outside of the Toronto Blue Jays. The first quarter of the season has proven to be as exciting as any other, and the quality of games is only going to go up as teams begin to come into their own as we approach the mid-season point.


Stratford launches their 2018 Season Ticket drive today

The group trying to return the Statford Hillers back to the Intercounty Baseball League officially launched their 2018 season ticket drive earlier this morning via their facebook page. hillers-season

To our knowledge, the Intercounty has not approved their franchise application as of yet  so this may be an effort to show the league they are serious about returning a la Las Vegas Knights season ticket drive last year before formally being awarded a franchise by the NHL.

The Hillers group  are also selling the IBL Road pass separately from the season ticket pass which is normally included in the pricing of a season pass in  the other 7 IBL cities (Toronto does not charge admission so it does not offer the Road Pass Program)

No payment is required until January 2018  and they can be purchased via email  at stratfordhillers@gmail.com





Baycats sweep away the Maple Leafs for 3rd straight championship

When you are either leading or tied  in the seventh inning of four games in a championship series , odds are you probably win more times than you lose.

The odds clearly were in favor of the Barrie Baycats all series along as for the fourth consecutive time in the series they took the lead late to sweep the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-5 Sunday afternoon at Dominico Field to claim their third consecutive Intercounty Baseball League championship.

The Baycats answered the Maple Leafs at every turn in the series and Sunday was no exception as whenever the Leafs would rally to tie the Baycats would dig in again to re-take the lead.

As was the case in the top of the seventh inning after the Maple Leafs had tied the ball game at 4-4 on a single by Connor Lewis in the bottom of the sixth.

Glenn Jackson reached first on a fielder’s choice and stole second. Kyle Degrace had an  at bat that seemed to take an eternity as he fouled off a ball off of his leg and had to walk it off before play resumed.  DeGrace pushed through the pain and collected  a single  to cash in Jackson  He later scored on a two out two-run  homer run by Jordan Castaldo to make it at 7-4 Baycats lead.

Dan Marra singled home his third run of the ball game to make it 7-5 but that is as close as the Leafs could get as Emilis Guerrero refused to lose and pitched the complete game for the victory

Guerrero who took home the playoff MVP award allowed five runs (four earned) on 16 hits he didn’t allow a walk and had four strikeouts.

Brett van Pelt started for the Leafs  and pitched six complete innings allowing four runs (all earned) on five hits and a walk.

Mike  Wagner took the loss in relief allowing three runs on four hits and struck-out three.

Castaldo had a pair of homer for the Baycats and finished with three RBIs.  Kyle Nichols added a solo homer in the sixth inning

Lewis singled twice , and homered  while driving  two RBIs for the Leafs

Dan Marra had three singles and three  RBIs,  while Sean Mattson went 3-for-5 with a run.

The Maple Leafs played the majority of their post season run shorthanded with their manager, Damon Topolie as the lone defensive replacement on the bench and a bullpen comprised mostly of starter pitchers outside of Adam Garner and Jonathan Solazzo coming in on an emergency basis twice in the playoffs.

For the Baycats their third consecutive championship celebration was truly a family affair as number of players wives and their children were in attendance cheering on their Baycats.






IBL Announces it’s year End Awards

From IBL Media Relations     NOTE:  I had made my picks prior to the opening round in this post in case you wanted to compare.   https://obgbaseball.wordpress.com/2016/08/03/ibl-all-stars-if-i-picked-them/


Tanner Nivins led the Intercounty Baseball League’s most prolific offence during the regular season, and now he’s the league’s Most Valuable Player.
The Kitchener Panthers centre-fielder edged Toronto’s Justin Marra for the award in a year-end vote released Thursday.

Nivins finished with 23 points, while Marra had 21. Hamilton’s Dre Celestijn, the IBL batting champion, finished third with eight points.
Rookie of the Year voting was also announced, and Barrie’s Conner Morro was the unanimous choice with 35 points. Burlington’s Christian Hauck and London’s RJ Fuhr tied for second with nine points apiece.

Each team has one ballot submitted by their general manager or field manager. Kitchener’s Sean Reilly won in 2015.

Nivins led the IBL with 17 home runs and scored 50 times atop a Panthers lineup that produced a league best 349 runs. His .432 average, .494 OBP, 1.288 OPS, and 40 RBI were all top seven in the league.

Marra hit .328 in 2016 with 16 home runs, 43 RBI, .442 OBP, and 1.176 OPS, while Celestijn batted .450 with four home runs, 26 RBI, .516 OBP and 1.222 OPS.

John Bell Memorial Trophy (MVP)
1. Tanner Nivins (Kitchener) 23 points
2. Justin Marra (Toronto) 21 points
3. Dre Celestijn (Hamilton) 8 points

Brian Kerr Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
1. Conner Morro (Barrie) 35 points
2. Christian Hauck (Burlington) 9 points
3. RJ Fuhr (London) 9 points

The IBL also announced its All-Star rosters.
First All-Star Team
C-Justin Marra (Toronto) 30 pts
1B-Justin Interisano (Kitchener) 26 pts
2B-Benjamin Bostick (Brantford) 29 pts
3B-Kevin Atkinson (Barrie) 30 pts
SS-Mike Glinka (Kitchener) 22 pts
OF-Tanner Nivins (Kitchener) 35 pts
OF-Dre Celestijn (Hamilton) 31 pts
OF-Jon Waltenbury (Toronto) 28 pts
DH-Sean Reilly (Kitchener) 33 pts
RHP-Nathan Forer (Brantford) 30 pts
LHP-Ian Rendon (Kitchener) 30 pts
Manager-Roop Chanderdat (London) 15 pts

Second All-Star Team
C-Frank Camilo Morejon (Kitchener) 9 pts
1B-Jordan Castaldo (Barrie) 24 pts
2B-Conner Morro (Barrie) 22 pts
3B-David Whiteside (Kitchener) 9 pts
SS-Ryan White (Toronto) 18 pts
OF-Ryan Spataro (Barrie) 27 pts
OF-Justin Gideon (Burlington) 22 pts
OF-Byron Reichstein (London) 22 pts
DH-Dan Jagdeo (Brantford) 20 pts
RHP-Emilis Guerrero (Barrie) 17 pts
LHP-Tanner Guindon (Brantford) 22 pts
Manager-Angus Roy (Barrie) 14 pts

Leafs 9th inning comeback stuns Majors

Baseball can be a cruel mistress sometimes and she loves to break people’s hearts.

Sunday night at Labatt Park in London, She ripped the heart out of the London Majors and left it torn in a crumpled mess.

The Majors were two outs away from advancing to the Intercounty Baseball League final leading 5-4 until  the Toronto  Maple Leafs pulled off another one of their trademark late inning comebacks to end the Majors season taking the seventh and deciding game of the semi-finals 10-6.

The Majors built up an early 5-1 lead in the contest in front of a pack house of their fans and had chased Leafs starter Brett van Pelt from the ball game early.  But couldn’t get any insurance runs off Justin Cicatello as he was in top form and held the Majors at bay as the Leafs began showing signs of life.

The Leafs made it 5-4 in the 8th but Ellis Jimenez worked his magic and got out of the jam in the inning to move the Majors to within three outs of advancing to the next round.

The packed house could feel the excitement building at the Leafs came to bat in the 9th inning.   Dan Marra lead of the top of the 9th with a single  off Jimenez who uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Marra to move up 90 feet but  then got Brendan Keys to pop-out to third for the first out of the inning and things where well in hand.

Or so the Labatt faithful thought.

Connor Lewis blasted a laser off Jimenez for a double into right field to tie the game 5-5 and that spelled the end for Jimenez’ night at 135 pitches and the go ahead run standing at second base.

In came Cory Hammond who to this point this season had ice water running through his veins when it came to big games and even bigger situations.

Grant Tamane un-phased by this,  took Hammond’s second offering deep off the light standard in left and the crowd in London went silently into shock as Tamane rounded the bases and was mobbed at home plate by his euphoric teammates and the handful of Leafs supporters cheering loudly in the stands.

“We waited a whole long year for a second chance at this” said Tamane who’s Maple Leafs lost a seventh game heart-breaker of their own in last year’s semi-finals to the Barrie Baycats.

The Leafs weren’t done either as they scored six in the fateful top of the ninth inning to make it 10-5  and pretty much left the Majors and the crowd a state of shock.

 This instantly brought back nightmares to this blogger of  the front  row seat I had from the third base dugout in Stratford’s infamous 9th inning comeback in game 7 of the 1994 finals.  

Down by a lot and yet they found a way to turn the tides and won the championship stunning the Guelph Royals in their own park.  To cap off the nightmare there’s to this day nothing more demeaning than watching a grown man urinate all over home plate in celebration. 

The Majors to their credit regrouped the best they could and scored an unearned run in the bottom of the frame thanks to a pair of errors by the Leafs and could have had more if not for a heroic catch by Lewis in center-field to end the ball game and the Majors season.

The Majors who rattled off 14 wins in a row to finish at top of the IBL standings were left on the outside looking in as the Leafs congratulated each other before lining up to shake hands as is custom in after a long playoff series.

The shock apparently still hasn’t left the Majors social media as not a tweet had been sent or liked since the 8th inning of the ballgame.

The end of the season also marks the end of one of the classiest guys in the league’s careers and with that I pause the story to wish Cleveland Brownlee my congratulations and thanks for always having a smile or laughing on and off the field no matter what.   You’ll be missed you Gentle Giant.

The battle tested Maple Leafs have now played 14 games in the playoffs and will face the well rested two time defending champions the Barrie Baycats.  With so many Baycats calling Toronto home its certain to feel like a homecoming to them.

The Schedule is yet to be released but will be posted soon as its made public.




Leafs force Game Seven with Majors Blow Out 

In an Ironic twist Saturday night’s movie at the Christie Film Festival was the Hitchcock classic Psycho. 
The Maple Leafs on the other end of park were creating a massacre of their own as they pounded the London Majors 16-4 to force a seventh and deciding game in London Sunday night. 

The Majors struck first of a run in the top of the first inning before the Leafs answered back with an eight run bottom of the second inning ignited by a grand slam by Justin Marra. 

The Leafs scored all their runs in the multiples of fours, adding four in the fifth and rounded out their scoring with four more in the eighth capped by a three run homer by Grant Tamane. 

The Leafs pounded out 16 hits including four from Jon Waltenbury and three from Jonathan Solazzo who had a pair of doubles and drove in two RBIs

RJ Fuhr had a triple and a double, scoring twice and had an RBI to lead the Majors 

Mike Wagner got the win for the Leafs pitching six and two thirds allowing three runs (all earned) on 11 hits. He issued three walks and struck out seven

Owen Boon took the loss for the Majors he lasted just an inning and two thirds. He allowed eight runs (only two earned) on eight hits , a walk and had a strike out 

Game Seven goes Sunday night at Labatt Park in London at 7:00 p.m. The winner will face the Barrie Baycats for the championship