The Trail AA Orioles were in the thick of a playoff hunt in Washington State American Legion Baseball until the powers-that-be informed them otherwise.
The Orioles were holding down fifth spot with a 4-4 record in a division where, typically, the top four teams advance to a playoff. However, things changed abruptly on Tuesday when Orioles coach Ron Mace received an email from the league indicating that only the top-two teams would move on.
“We just got informed this morning that the playoff situation has changed, and only two teams from our league’s division gets to go to the playoff,” said Mace. “As of right now the top two teams will go. We were under the impression from the beginning that it was four but we’re told different today.”
Last year four teams from the Federal division advanced to the State playoff along with the division leading West Kootenay Diamondbacks.
According to WSALB pointstreak standings Freeman AA and Colville AA are first and second with 11-0 and 8-1 records while Cheney is third, 4-1, and Medical Lake fourth at 7-3. The Orioles fell to sixth place on Monday at 4-5 after dropping a pair of tough games to Colville 6-5 and 5-2.
“Colville needed those wins and they threw two Grade 12 pitchers against us, but that’s okay.”
In the league game, Trail was leading 3-2 heading into the fifth inning but a four-run outburst from the Americans would give them a lead that the O’s could not eclipse, despite scoring runs in the sixth and seventh innings to make it close.
“Overall our kids played much better yesterday, than we have for a week, so there’s progress,” said Mace.
The AA Orioles have competed well in the American Legion where many of the teams consist of Grade 11 and 12 players, whereas Trail is comprised of mostly Grade 9 players.
“We had two Grade 8s and six Grade 9s in the lineup yesterday, so our future looks good,” said Mace. “It’s definitely been a building year, and we’re taking the growing pains as coaches.”
Mathematically, the Orioles can still play for a playoff spot, but will likely have to win out the rest of the season, and get some help from other teams along the way.
They’ll start today with a doubleheader against Medical Lake at 2 and 4 p.m. at Butler Park, and follow that up with a three-game set against Whitman County this weekend with a Friday game at 7 p.m. and a doubleheader Saturday at Butler. They’ll also host Cheney on Monday with games at 2 and 4 p.m.
Oriole extras: The Trail AM Ford Orioles also played a three-game exhibition set with Cranbrook winning all three games by scores of 11-0, 13-3 and an extra-inning 6-5 win.