by Sam Aucoin

BARRIE – Over the winter, the Barrie Baycats were busy, assembling a team they hope will bring home an eighth Intercounty Baseball League championship to the organization and its fans. With that came a multitude of signings and throughout the offseason, they kept coming. But behind the outside walls, 19-year-old right-handed pitcher Ryan Lacasse was determined to be one of those new signees and crack the Baycats' opening-day roster.

“If I really show that I’m committed and [I want] to do this,” said Lacasse. “I’d be worth all the travel time.” Growing up, and spending his whole life up north, traveling down to Barrie for the team’s winter workouts every weekend was a three-and-a-half hour – both ways at night – commitment for a guy that was in his second year of university, balancing classes and chasing a dream.

“It was a lot of back and forth,” he said. “Showing Josh (Matlow) that I’m even willing to do that travel… It just shows the type of person that I am.”

Lacasse, born and raised in Garson, Ontario, just outside of Sudbury, picked up the game of baseball when he was around five years old. He played other sports as well when he was still young but stuck with baseball because he enjoyed the mental side of the game and that was what his friends were playing.   

“Anytime we had an opportunity to go to the local ball field back at home we’d do it,” Lacasse said. “Anything to get us moving and stay in the game.” That work ethic has stuck with Ryan to this day.

Pitching was not something that carried Ryan through his childhood. He was – and still is – an outfielder, playing college ball at Laurentian University.

“I always had a better arm and my dad saw that potential in me,” Ryan said. “We used to take karate lessons in a gym and then anytime before that, he’d (Ryan’s dad) get me to throw a bullpen.”

Eventually, he got his opportunity on the mound. He was eight years old at the time.

“My coach eventually gave me a chance in one of our games in a tournament and I did phenomenal and never stopped pitching since,” he said.

Heading into his teen years, baseball became something that could open up a new world of possibilities for Lacasse. At age 16, there was still time for development as Ryan continued through travel ball.

“I played for the 16u Voyageurs [and] had a phenomenal season that year,” he said. “I had probably the most fun I’ve ever [had playing] the game.”

This past fall, when he was playing in his second season with the Laurentian Voyageurs, Ryan’s coach at the time got in contact with Baycats pitching coach Brad Grieveson to set up a tryout. This opportunity was not something Lacasse took lightly.

“I went pretty much every other weekend to try out,” said Lacasse, who had gone four times to the team’s winter workouts before Manager and GM Josh Matlow finally gave him the contract. After showing up for his second tryout out of four in total, Lacasse was pretty confident he had locked in a spot.

“I had a pretty good gut feeling that I made it,” He said. “They kept asking me to come back.”

The belief that the Baycats have shown in Lacasse is something he appreciates and wants to prove that they made a good decision.

“I’m hoping that I’m able to really show them what I have talent-wise where I can eventually develop a role where I’ll be able to consistently come out of the bullpen,” Ryan stated. 

For a team that lacked quality pitching performances down the stretch, Ryan Lacasse is looking to be a key piece to the puzzle in 2024.