The Trail Single-A Orioles kicked off their Washington State American Legion Baseball League season at Butler Park on the weekend with a pair of doubleheaders.
The ‘A’ Orioles dropped its first games on Saturday to Mead 12-6 and 14-4 before rebounding with a pair of decisive victories over Central Valley 9-1 and 17-6. Despite the mixed results, it was a promising start for a relatively young and new squad that is playing against teams that have played more than 20 games already.
“We’re a young team, we have a lot of 13-year-olds, a smattering of 15 year olds,” said Orioles’ coach Rick Schleppe. “All the kids can play the game physically, they have the physical aspects down pat – what we’re working on as a coaching staff right now is working on the mental game for the kids. They know how to run, throw, catch, but what do they do once they get the ball now? is what were working on.”
Schleppe, a former Little League and high school baseball coach, will replace ‘A’ Orioles’ coach Darren Miracle, with Mark Profili and Kevin Ihas joining forces with Schleppe as assistant coaches.
“It’s a whole new game for them,” said Schleppe. “It’s 60-90 baseball, a whole new game and we’re starting from scratch.”
While the O’s struggled against Mead in the two losses Saturday, it was a much improved effort on Sunday.
“Yesterday we were in the games, but unfortunately Saturday’s games we had a few mental breakdowns, but it’s going to come. We are going to take our bruises but like I say we want them to settle down, learn the game, and get themselves composed.”
In Sunday’s opener versus the Central Valley Bears, three runs by the Orioles in the bottom of the fourth inning broke a 1-1 tie, and a five-run sixth would give the O’s a 9-1 victory.
Kian Johnston went the distance on the mound for the Orioles, giving up one run on six hits, while striking out 10. Nate Ingram went 2-for-2 with two stolen bases, and Pete Pasqualotto was 2-for-3.
In the ‘A’ Orioles final match against Central, an eight run O’s outburst in the third inning broke open a 3-1 game. Nate Ingram led off with a single and Justin Coombes followed up with a hit up the middle before Pasqualatto stepped up and scored them both with a double to the gap in left-centre. Consecutive singles by Ryan Stainer, Marty Ingram, Ali Schroder, and Max Profili would make it 11-1 heading into the fourth, and five more runs in the top of the fifth would bring the 10-run rule into effect.
Pasqualatto struck out five and held the Bears to just two runs on four hits until the fifth when Central cashed in four on a two-out rally. Ali Schroder went 3-for-3 at the plate with two singles, a double, and a stolen base, while Nate Ingram went 2-for-2 with two walks and a pair of stolen bases.
The .500 start puts the Orioles in second place in the Area 3 American League U-16 division with 10 other teams from Northeastern Washington and Idaho competing.
“Our biggest goal this year is try to teach them the game, and that’s what we’re trying to do right now and get them developed so they can move up to the next level,” added Schleppe. “We do have the tools to compete, but right now were just working on development.”
The O’s will play in a tougher division than last year, going up against such powerhouse teams as the Couer d’Alene Lumberjacks, Mead, University, North Central, and Lewis-Clark.
“Right now we’re sitting 2-2. If we can compete in this league and be in that neighbourhood I’d be quite happy.”
The ‘A’ Orioles next games go in Colville on Tuesday at 4 and 6 p.m.