Washington State American Legion action began on the weekend with mixed results for local single-A and double-A teams.
The West Kootenay Diamondbacks AA won a doubleheader against Colville on Friday with 8-5 and 14-2 wins to open the season, while the West Kootenay Phillies A dropped its opener to Central Valley on Sunday 6-4, before earning a point in a rare 7-7 tie.
The D-backs manager Roger Handley took over the reigns of the team last year, and led them to a 6-12 record with a strong finish.
Playing in the Federal League against five strong AL teams that begin their year playing high school baseball in early March is a definite advantage for the american teams, but Handley has reason for optimism heading into this season.
“We have organized and started earlier picking a team to compete,” said Handley in an email. “With the addition of six Trail Jays players and strong AA players from last year, I feel we have a good chance to make the playoffs, if the kids stay focused.”
The Diamondbacks won’t play their first home game until June 23 at Butler Park when they face Medical Lake. They next take the field against Pullman in a doubleheader on Saturday at Jackson Park.
Meanwhile, the Phillies single-A squad lost its first game of the season against Central Valley, in a close 6-4 match up, but came back to earn a tie in the back end of the double bill.
Central Valley jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third inning. The Phillies would claw their way back, scoring twice in the fourth to make it 5-3, and another one in the sixth when Dillon Jacobs singled and was advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Ross St. Jean. Derek Green would step up to the plate and single to right field, driving in the run to make it 5-4. However, the Valley would get an insurance run in the top of seven, then shut down the D-backs in the bottom half, as Rusty Ford came on in relief striking out two Philly batters to earn the save.
In the second half of the doubleheader the Phillies charged back from a 4-0 deficit in the bottom of four to take a 5-4 lead, thanks to a two-run single by Jacobs. However, the game would end in a 7-7 draw, as the Central Valley team needed to return home rather than decide the game in extra innings.
The Phillies next game goes at Butler Park Saturday when they host East Valley in a doubleheader at noon and 2 p.m.