Following an opening-game drubbing, the AM Ford Trail Orioles regrouped and came a base hit away from upsetting the Seattle Studs in Pacific International League play at Butler Park on the weekend.
With the Studs leading 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning and Connor and Kellen Jones on the corners, the Studs reliever Taylor Thompson got Brady Glover to pop up to centre field to end the game and preserve the three-game sweep Sunday for Seattle.
“We hung in there with that team for two games and I think we’ve got to walk away feeling pretty good about how we played,” said player/coach Jim Maniago.
The Studs jumped out to a 2-0 lead on two consecutive doubles and a single off of O’s starter Kellen Jones. But Trail answered in the bottom of the second inning, when Jones led off with a single, followed by two walks to Glover and Darrin Kissock.
Catcher Cam Ferguson singled to score Jones, and Jeff Sidey then stepped up and doubled to the gap to score Kissock and Glover, to put the O’s up 3-2.
The lead was shortlived, however, as the Studs replied in the top of three scoring four runs to regain the lead. The O’s rallied when a double by Kellen Jones added two more in the third, and despite shutting the Seattle batters down, 6-5 was as close as they’d get.
Jones helped his own cause by going 2-for-3 at the plate with one double, while Kissock was 1-for-1 with two walks.
In the opening matchup Saturday night, the Studs put on an extraordinary display of hitting prowess, pounding Oriole pitching at will, in a 16 hit, 18-2 romp.
However, to the Orioles credit, the second game of the double-bill was a complete turn around with teams combining for just seven hits in a tight 3-0 win for the Studs.
Despite the loss, Trail had to view the close match as a positive in light of the previous game debacle.
O’s pitcher Kissock pitched brilliantly, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out five batters over six and two-third innings. Unfortunately, Trail batters only managed one hit off rival pitcher Gavin Hite who struck out 11 and walked six, over six and one third innings pitched.
“These guys are going to the nationals in Kansas City so they know how to hit, so you just got to keep them off balance,” said Kissock of his success against Seattle hitters. “Throw it up, down, out, never two pitches in a row in the same spot.”
The Studs scored all three runs in the first two innings, but after that Kissock shut them down, allowing only one more base runner until the sixth.
“As the game went on, I changed my speeds a little more and it helped out a lot.”
Seattle leads the PIL with a record of 15-2, are coming off another victory at the Kamloops International Baseball Tournament and Kelowna Cash tournament, and are perennial favourites at the Grand Forks International.
“Besides a professional baseball team, this team is the best team in North America . . . they’re a great team and we hung in there last night and today, so it’s pretty good as we head into provincials.”
The Orioles head to Prince George for the provincial championship Aug. 4-6.