WATERBURY, Ct. — They have come to Waterbury and played some baseball, real good baseball.
The Ontario Blue Jays, from Mississauga, a Toronto suburb that sits on the shore of Lake Ontario, are not strangers to Waterbury. In fact, the Jays are accustomed to winning in Waterbury.
“We have been down (to Waterbury) a bunch,” said Blue Jays head coach Sean Travers, who is also the program’s director of player development. “We have played in the North Atlantic Regional in Waterbury and won that tournament four years, so we’ve had a lot of luck in Waterbury. It has been a great city for us.”
The Blue Jays are accustomed to making every city feel like home. They won a Mickey Mantle World Series title in 2013, when the series was played in McKinney, Texas.
Visit the team’s website and you will see a banner announcement: “Canada’s No. 1 Amateur Baseball Program.”
Anyone care to argue? The page states that the program, which is similar to an American baseball academy, has placed 422 players on college teams across North America, put 77 players on the Canadian national team and had 108 players selected in the Major League Baseball amateur draft. Seven former Blue Jays played in the World Baseball Classic.
So, no argument.
What is unique, too, about the Blue Jays is that the team stays together for 12 months. Yes, 12. These guys do not play high school baseball. They play Ontario Blue Jays baseball 12 months of the year.
The Jays went undefeated in pool play, that’s three wins, and they won their opening game of the double-elimination championship bracket Friday afternoon, 3-2, over the Tigers of Puerto Rico.
Not only are the Blue Jays rolling in the Mantle Series, but another team from Canada, the Toronto Mets, also got through pool play and is now in the championship bracket.
“There are two teams from our league in the tournament,” Travers said, “us and the Mets from the (Canadian Premier Baseball League). So far, both teams were playing well, so we’re doing Canadian baseball proud.”
The team is deep in pitching. They hit it and they catch it, too. But as Travers noted, “I’m hoping we haven’t played our best baseball yet. Our pitching has been great and our defence fantastic. We have a good balance of power and speed, and just try to score some runs.”
They have tried to score and they have succeeded.
O Canada, your home and native land is playing some awesome baseball in Waterbury again.
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