Coach Bailey’s 5-Day Ontario Odyssey: Aiding the Development of Three Titans Teams

by Jim Stewart

Denis Bailey is the College Placement Officer for the Titans Baseball Club. He also serves as the organization’s Hitting Coordinator and the 18U Head Coach.  

But from Thursday to Monday to wrap up the month of May, he coached three separate Titans teams in a 120-hour period and saw all three squads—18U, 15U, and 14U—garner noteworthy wins with Coach Bailey’s hand on the tiller.  Call it “The Coach Bailey Effect”. Call it what you will.  The veteran CPBL coach was happy with the results of his whirlwind tour across Ontario and what he saw from all three Titans teams:  “It was a pleasure to watch everyone play the game the right way.”

14U Titans Put It All Together

Coach Bailey lavished praise on the 14U Titans whom he coached during a Sunday doubleheader.  “There were no easy outs in the 14U lineup from the lead-off spot to the 9-spot.  They were competing during all at-bats. I really liked their 2-strike approach and they went about ‘passing the baton’ as Lawrence and I have emphasized as an organization." 14U Titans performances that caught his eye included Catcher Myles Hazen who “handled the pitching staff expertly in the games I attended.”  One of those pitchers that Hazen handled so well was Adam Visram who threw a complete-game, 7-3 victory over the Team Ontario Astros in Game 2 of the doubleheader. “Adam was shoving against the Astros.  He threw seven innings, yielded zero earned runs, struck out five, and walked one. He was a leader on the mound in a tidy win over Team O.”  Other noteworthy 14U Titans performances were by Josh Hill who went 3 for 6 on Sunday and “drove in a big RBI that keyed a rally,” according to the 18U Titans’ Head Coach.  “Josh came up big!”  Also getting Coach Bailey’s attention was the steady play of Mark Gregato, Nicholas Carnovale, and Sam Hess who “played with joy on their faces while they’re competing in the best league in the province.  Loved the play of those 14U’s.”

15U Titans Impress on Sunday in St. Mary’s

Coach Bailey enjoyed the two-game performance of the 15U Titans, especially  their 9-7 win over the Ontario Nationals on Sunday.  Luke Adams provided the team with what Bailey described as “a bulldog mentality out of the bullpen.  He had excellent presence on the mound and closed the deal for the 15U Titans.”  Also impressive was the play of dual player Ty Vecchio who made a “fantastic start in Game One,” according to his itinerant coach.  “Ty was impressive on the mound, but also patrolled centerfield very effectively in Game 2.”  Tyson Rozario—a Top Ten Titan already this season—was aptly described by Bailey as a “sparkplug at the dish and in the field.”  High praise from the Titans’ College Placement Officer and Hitting Instructor.

18U Titans Turn the Corner at the CPBL Showcase and in Regular Season Games

Sandwiched around Coach Bailey’s guest coaching duties were his own team’s CPBL Showcase and regular season contests which stretched from Thursday to Monday.  The 18U Titans performed well at the CPBL Showcase Event at the University of Toronto (Scarborough) on Thursday as the team is finally healthy and sporting a complete roster.  A walk-off 5-4 win over the Team Ontario Astros was cued by Wyatt Slocum’s triple.  Slocum’s performance on the mound and in the batter’s box earned him Top Ten Titan honors for Week Four of the CPBL season.  (See article  “Titans’ Top 10 CPBL Performances—Week 4”). The Titans were trailing 4-2 to the Astros in the seventh inning before Slocum’s timely heroics. 

The 18U Titans also defeated the Royals 5-4 at UTS with a similar recipe for success. Down 3-1 after five innings, the Titans scored 4 in the sixth to secure the margin of victory.  The 5-4 win was preserved by a terrific Titans’ relay that involved Tarek Emara’s outstanding outfield throw to Nolan Thomson who threw a dart to catcher Giancarlo Bernardo who applied a crucial tag to the Royals baserunner who represented the tying run. Bernardo will be sweep tagging opponents for the D1 Rend Lake Warriors in Illinois in September. Coach Bailey described the relay that Bernardo finished as “not only the game-saving defensive play, but also the best team defensive play of the 2022 season thus far.”  The Big Relay helped Graham Sim earn the save.  The versatile Titan also played third base during the Royals game and showed “his strengths as a dual player,” according to his 18U Head Coach. 

Coach Bailey also offered high praise for the 1-2-3 offensive punch his team has received by the prodigious play of Kirk Gibson (committed to the University of Rio Grande Red Storm of the NAIA), Tarek Emara, and Nolan Thompson at the top of the batting order.  “1-2-3 set the table for us all weekend and into Monday.  Kirk, Tarek, and Nolan have ignited the batting order. Thomson is leading us in hitting with a .356 average.”

Wrapping up Coach Bailey’s Ontario Odyssey were CPBL regular season wins on Saturday and Monday.  The 18U Titans—buoyed by the effective pitching of Graham Sim—secured a 10-6 win over Ottawa’s Watson Elite squad on Saturday.  The veteran starter—who has committed to Mott Community College Bears in Flint, Michigan—threw four innings to qualify for the win.  He struck out seven Ottawa batters and walked one.   Nolan Thomson went 3 for 4 and drove in three runs out of the three-spot to lead the 18U Titans offensively.  Thomson not only leads the Titans in batting average, but also in runs batted in with 13.

The entire Titans organization breathed a sigh of relief in the win over Ottawa because Jaxen Lehr toed the rubber for the first time this season, completing his comeback from serious injury.  Lehr threw one inning versus Watson Elite, striking out two and allowing one earned run.  Lehr—who is committed to the Salem International University Tigers in West Virginia-- recovered well from his outing versus Ottawa and threw two innings in the 18U Titans’ 11-4 win over the Team Ontario Astros on Monday at Stewart Burnett Park.  Lehr struck three Astros and yielded only one hit.  Coach Bailey was pleased with his hurler’s return performance:  “Jaxen’s recovery from injury is inspirational.  His diligence and dedication to getting back in pitching form has been a big lift for our team and the organization. He’s even cleared to hit next week for us.” 

Coach Bailey’s five-day Ontario Odyssey ended with a fine offensive display by his 18U Titans versus the Astros in Aurora and the veteran-laden team has “turned the corner,” according to their travel-weary Head Coach.