By Chris Lazar
What an opening week it was.
Surprising results, breathtaking comebacks, massive blowouts, and everything in between – the first week of the 2023 IBL season gave us a little bit of everything. If the first few games are any indication of what to look forward to this summer, we should expect the unexpected.
#8. Brantford Red Sox (0-2, Previous Week: 8)
After an opening day blowout loss to the Kitchener Panthers, the Red Sox showed a very encouraging performance Sunday night in Barrie. The most notable improvement from game one was the defense – six errors Friday, zero against the Baycats. Jeremie Veilleux provided their highlight of the week, hitting a two-run homer on Sunday. If Brantford can continue to show incremental improvements throughout the year, they could be an interesting team to follow.
#7. Welland Jackfish (0-2, Previous Week: 2)
I don’t think the Jackfish are the 2nd worst team in the league, however the first week did not go well. A hard-fought defeat in their opener against Hamilton was followed up by an uninspiring performance at Jack Couch to close the week. The pitching staff – viewed as a strength of this team – had nine walks against the Panthers, while the lineup struck out 13 times. Last season’s Rookie of the Year Sam Cawker provided all the offense on Sunday, going 3-for-4 and driving in all six runs. Maybe this weekend is the wakeup call Welland needs to turn things around, because they should be better than what they showed.
#6. London Majors (0-3, Previous Week: 1)
The defending champs got punched in the mouth this week, falling twice to the team they defeated in last year’s finals. The first matchup featured them blowing a 4-1 lead in the eighth inning, while the second was a controversial, ejection-filled mess – Keith Kandel, Austin Wilkie, and manager Roop Chanderdat were all tossed before the fifth inning was over. The weekend ended with another blown lead, getting walked off by Hamilton spoiling another stellar start from Owen Boon. It was Murphy’s Law for London this week, but if there’s one thing we know about Chanderdat’s club it’s that they almost certainly will bounce back.
#5. Barrie Baycats (2-0, Previous Week: 6)
Barrie gave their fans a thrilling comeback on opening day, putting up five in the 9th inning to walk-off Toronto 11-10. Ryan Rijo was the hero, lining the first pitch he saw back up the middle to drive in the winning run. Evan Soules was excellent Sunday night against Brantford, throwing 8 and 1/3 innings in relief, with his only blemish being the two-run shot by Veilleux. There are still some concerns about their starting pitching, but so far so good for the seven-time champions.
#4. Guelph Royals (1-1, Previous Week: 4)
A tale of two games for the Royals this week – a big win followed by a blowout loss. Friday saw Guelph convincingly defeat the Hamilton Cardinals to spoil their home opener, although it didn’t come without consequence. Highly touted import Dario Alvarez left the game two pitches into his outing with what appeared to be an arm injury. Their second game was a familiar story for anybody who has traveled to Christie Pits for a Sunday afternoon game. Sloppy defense, walks galore, and a lineup lacking some of their top hitters led to a rough end to their week. The injury to Alvarez is the biggest concern coming out of the long weekend, as that would be a difficult arm to replace for a pitching staff that already lacks depth.
#3. Hamilton Cardinals (2-1, Previous Week: 5)
The Cardinals ushered in their new era in strong fashion, putting together a pair of one-run victories, capped off by a Clayton Keyes walk-off single to defeat last year’s champs. The formula for their wins was one we hear about good baseball teams all the time – pitching and defense. The Cardinals allowed five runs and only committed one error in the two victories. The best part for Hamilton? They’re expected to add more arms now that college seasons are coming to an end. If they continue to attack the strike zone and play solid defense, they should be a strong team all season.
#2. Kitchener Panthers (2-0, Previous Week: 7)
We may have underestimated this team. Kitchener started off their season with a bang, scoring 32 runs over their first two games. The middle of their lineup is among the best in the league, headlined by local names Andy Leader, Liam Wilson, and Elliott Curtis. The Cuban impact is already being felt as shortstop Raul Gonzalez is six-for-11 with two homers and five RBIs. With the Panthers launching six balls over the wall this weekend, it seems like their lineup is built for their home park, which is notoriously hitter friendly. Was it just a great weekend or is this a sign of things to come? Time will tell, but boy did these cats look good.
#1. Toronto Maple Leafs (3-1, Previous Week: 3)
Nobody looked better this week than the Toronto Maple Leafs. Take away a disastrous 9th inning in Barrie and they were nearly perfect. The biggest story out of Toronto this week isn’t their offense – we knew they could hit – their starting pitching was better than advertised. Ryan Burnside and Sam Greene had excellent starts to close the weekend, giving up two earned runs combined over 11 innings. Combine that starting pitching with a lineup averaging nine runs per game, and this team is going to be very difficult to beat.
News: Welland Jackfish to Host 2024 IBL All-Star Showdown
The Intercounty Baseball League announced this morning, November 15, that the 2023 Dominico Cup Champion Welland Jackfish has been awarded the 2024 IBL All-Star Showdown.The 1st IBL All-Star event since 2016 will make its first trip to Welland Stadium in Welland, Ontario, July 20, 2024.”We are very excited to announce that the Welland Jackfish will…
The Intercounty Baseball League announced this morning, November 15, that the 2023 Dominico Cup Champion Welland Jackfish has been awarded the 2024 IBL All-Star Showdown.
The 1st IBL All-Star event since 2016 will make its first trip to Welland Stadium in Welland, Ontario, July 20, 2024.
“We are very excited to announce that the Welland Jackfish will be hosting the 2024 IBL All-Star Showdown,” said IBL Commissioner, Ted Kalnins. “Welland has taken in-game entertainment and fan interaction to a new level, and the All-Star Showdown will be no different.”
Fans can plan for the festivities to begin on Saturday, July 20th at 1 PM, with the full format of the IBL All-Star Showdown being announced on December 9th during the Jackfish Christmas Party at Tailgates Bar and Grill in Welland.
“This will be unlike any All-Star event fans have ever seen,” said Jackfish President and Director of Fun, Ryan Harrison. “We are breaking away from the traditional format and making it an event of non-stop action, entertainment, and showmanship.”
Tickets to the IBL All-Star Showdown will be available to fans based on priority with current 2024 Jackfish Season Members and ticket package holders having first access to All-Star ticket options.
“In the coming month, we look forward to sharing more details on the events surrounding the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby which will make it extra special for the fans and players of the IBL,” said Kalnins.
The Jackfish, entering their fifth season in 2024, earned IBL Executive of the Year honors in 2019. They continued their success in the league’s return in 2021, doubling attendance ever since. In 2023, the Jackfish won their first IBL championship while leading the eight-team league in attendance.
“Just get your popcorn ready and get mentally prepared, we are giving fans something to root for and get behind,” said Harrison.
The Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) is the top-level baseball league in Canada, boasting ex-major league professionals and elite NCAA college baseball players. The 2024 season marked the IBL’s 106th year in operation. The IBL is one of the longest continuously operated baseball leagues in the world and serves as a valuable training ground for coaches, umpires, and front office staff. More than 40 IBL players have advanced to Major League Baseball or returned to the IBL following their MLB careers. The league is comprised of teams from Barrie, Brantford, Chatham-Kent, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener, London, Toronto and Welland. For more information, visit www.theibl.ca or @ibl1919 on Instagram and Twitter.
News: Hamilton’s Eric Spearin Named IBL Executive of the Year
The Intercounty Baseball League (@IBL1919), Canada’s top baseball league, is pleased to announce its 2023 Executive of the Year, Eric Spearin, Owner of the Hamilton Cardinals. In his first full season as Managing Partner of the Hamilton Cardinals, the Cardinals set team records for attendance, merchandise sales, and TV viewership. Upon receiving the award, Spearin…
The Intercounty Baseball League (@IBL1919), Canada’s top baseball league, is pleased to announce its 2023 Executive of the Year, Eric Spearin, Owner of the Hamilton Cardinals. In his first full season as Managing Partner of the Hamilton Cardinals, the Cardinals set team records for attendance, merchandise sales, and TV viewership.
Upon receiving the award, Spearin was quick to share the credit: “I am elated that our Hamilton Cardinals organization has received this award. It’s heartening to see the dedication of our staff, volunteers, front office, players, and most importantly, our fans, being recognized. I’d also like to extend my gratitude to the other league owners who have graciously provided us with a blueprint and guidance along the way. I genuinely believe that we are just beginning to realize the potential of the Hamilton Cardinals, and I am excited about the future of the club in our city!”
The Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) is the top-level baseball league in Canada, boasting ex-major league professionals and elite NCAA college baseball players. The 2023 season marked the IBL’s 105th year in operation. The IBL is one of the longest continuously operated baseball leagues in the world and serves as a valuable training ground for coaches, umpires, and front office staff. More than 40 IBL players have advanced to Major League Baseball or returned to the IBL following their MLB careers. The league is comprised of teams from Barrie, Brantford, Chatham-Kent, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener, London, Toronto and Welland. For more information, visit www.theibl.ca or @ibl1919 on Instagram and Twitter.
News: Jackfish and FINatics Booster Club Donate $3,880 to Ronald McDonald House
NIAGARA, ON – The Welland Jackfish along with the FINatics Booster Club have donated $3,880 to Ronald McDonald House Charities South Central Ontario in support of the Jackfish Strikeout for Families campaign.Prior to the start of the 2023 season, the Jackfish announced that $5 from every strikeout thrown would go to support the charity this…
NIAGARA, ON – The Welland Jackfish along with the FINatics Booster Club have donated $3,880 to Ronald McDonald House Charities South Central Ontario in support of the Jackfish Strikeout for Families campaign.
Prior to the start of the 2023 season, the Jackfish announced that $5 from every strikeout thrown would go to support the charity this regular season. Following that announcement, the FINatics Booster Club, a fan-driven non-for-profit organization announced they would match the total to bring it to $10 per strikeout. With 388 strikeouts by Welland Jackfish pitchers this season, Jackfish President, Ryan Harrison, and FINatics Booster Club President Mike Hart presented Chief Executive Officer at Ronald McDonald House Charities South Central Ontario, Mario De Divitiis with a cheque on Friday.
Ronald McDonald House Charities® South Central Ontario is part of a network of 15 Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada. They provide a home away from home for families of children who are seriously ill and being treated at nearby hospitals.
Built in 1993 and located next to McMaster Children’s Hospital, RMHCSCO is independently owned and operated by Kid’s Care Oncology Central West Ontario and is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, managed by a small staff team, and supported by a full complement of dedicated volunteers.
Ronald McDonald House Charities® South Central Ontario has helped many Niagara famlies over its 30-year history.
This season alone, the Welland Jackfish have donated or raised over $70,000 for local not-for-profits or charitable organizations throughout Niagara.
The Welland Jackfish, 2023 Dominico Cup Champions, are a member of Canada’s top baseball league, the Intercounty Baseball League. The 104-year old summer league is one of the oldest baseball leagues in the world, with the league established in 1919, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. For more information, visit www.wellandjackfish.com or follow the Jackfish on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @wellandjackfish.