Trail AM Ford Oriole Joel Graf swipes second base during a Sunday afternoon doubleheader at Butler Park to spark a rally

AM Ford Orioles drop opening series with Jays

The Trail AM Ford Orioles had moments of clarity at the plate, but early season rust and some hot Kelowna pitching silenced the Oriole bats.

The Trail AM Ford Orioles had moments of clarity at the plate, but early season rust and some hot Kelowna pitching silenced the Oriole bats as Trail dropped three-of-four games to the Kelowna Jays at Butler Park on the weekend.

The teams split the opening doubleheader on Saturday with Kelowna winning 2-1 in the first match before the Orioles rebounded with a dramatic 5-4 win in the evening contest. Sunday, however, saw the Jays’ bats unload on Oriole pitching scoring 18 runs in the doubleheader as they cruised to 9-0 and 9-5 victories.

“We will get better,” said player-coach Jim Maniago. “Saturday we played okay and got great pitching, just didn’t hit. Sunday we gave up too many runs.”

The Orioles were missing key position players, but managed to field a mix of young and experienced ballplayers, giving first year guys like Austin and Reese Tambellini ample playing time.

In the first inning of the opening match Saturday, a two-run home run by Tyler Thorson off Oriole starter Scotty Davidson was all Kelowna would need as Trail managed just one hit against the Jays’ Zack Burton in a 2-1 loss.

Davidson settled down after that and gave up just four hits and four walks while striking out six over six innings, but the Orioles couldn’t connect. Joel Graf would get the only hit in the first inning and score the only run in the third inning off a Jays error on a blast to right field that put him on third. A ground out would score him, but Kelowna starter Burton would sit down the Os in order the rest of the way for the victory.

The Orioles would rebound, however, in the evening match of the doubleheader coming back in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 5-4 win.

Trail took an early 2-0 lead, with Graf scoring on a Davidson single in the first. Florko then plated Calvin on a single up the middle in the third inning before the Jays rallied.

Graf cruised through four scoreless innings on the mound, but the Jays struck hard in the fifth, plating four runs on five consecutive hits. Down 4-2 the Os would get one back in the bottom half of the fifth with Mace scoring on a J.J. Johnson single to set up the last inning comeback.

Maniago and Mace would lead off the inning with a pair of walks. Calvin then stepped up and smashed a single to left to score Maniago. With one out, Chris Florko belted a single to load the bases and Mace would score on an error to the second baseman to give the Os their first victory of the season.  Calvin was 2-for-2 with two walks in the game, while Florko went 2-for-3.

Unfortunately, the O’s bats abandoned them again in Game 3 as  the Jays dominated Sunday morning match with a two-hit 9-0 victory in the first game, and followed it up with a 9-5 win in the second half of the double header.

In the final game of the four game tilt, Kelowna scored eight runs in the first inning to jump out to an insurmountable 8-0 lead on their way to a 9-5 victory and series win over the Orioles. The O’s clawed their way back cutting the lead to 9-3 before rallying in the fifth. Calvin led off with a double, and after a Josh Lowden walk, Mace would cash in Calvin with a hard liner to right field. The next O batter wold go down swinging, but Florko then stepped up and crushed a ball over the head of the centre fielder to put batters at second and third and the O’s within four Yet two back-to-back Ks snuffed out any hope of a further threat.

“Both teams were short handed and it showed,” said Maniago. “The level of play will come up a lot in the next month, we’ll need to be ready.”

The Orioles open their Pacific International League action in Kamloops this weekend with four games against the Sun Devils on Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m. and on Sunday at 10 a.m. and noon.

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