The Trail AA Orioles begin their quest for a shot at the Washington State American Legion Baseball League championship on Friday in Spokane.
The Orioles split their final games of the WSALB season against West Valley on Tuesday winning the first match up 12-4 before dropping a close second game 14-12. Having already clinched a berth in the districts on Monday against Rogers, the coaching staff approached Tuesday’s games with a modicum of caution.
“We’d like to win them because we still have a chance to clinch first place,” said Orioles coach Kyle Mace. “But we’re definitely going to rest some players, and make sure we line up our starting pitching for the playoffs so we have our 1 and 2 going in the first and second games.”
Pitching is always key, particularly come playoff time, and Mace is confident in his four starters, Brendan Makay, Austin Tambellini, Tyler Atkinson and Colton Miracle, going into the districts.
“Our pitching has been really good all year,” said Mace. “Our starting four is pretty consistent they throw hard, and they throw a lot of strikes.”
The AA O’s are the second seed in the National League division and will play the American League division’s sixth seeded Lewis and Clark 1 at 1 p.m. at A.K. Jackson Field on Friday to open the tournament. The first game is a must-win match with the winner advancing to the double-knockout round, while the loser goes home.
Three teams from the National League division advanced to the district playoffs while the top two teams from the Federal division moved on, and all eight teams from the American League division advanced.
The AA Orioles have little experience playing against the top American League division teams, although they did play the first place Mt. Spokane 1 at the Wood Bat tournament earlier this month, losing a 9-4 game to the number-one seed. The O’s also recently split a pair of games against the American division’s fourth seed, Mead, at Butler Park last week.
“I don’t know much about the other teams,” said Mace. “We played Mt. Spokane 1, and they are first place in the top division and we should have beat them and swept Mead. But my expectation is to win enough so we can go to States (championship).”
Trail played four doubleheaders in the past week, winning 6-of-8 games to finish at 10-4, just a half-game behind league-leading Colville at 10-3. They will look to take that momentum into the district playoffs starting Friday.
“It’s going to take some good baseball and some fundamentally strong play,” said Mace. “But I think we look pretty good going in.”
The top four teams at districts will advance to the State tournament championship in Olympia, Wash. July 25-30.