The AM Ford Orioles ventured tentatively onto new terrain last weekend as they made their debut in the Pacific International League (PIL).
Considered by many to be the premier inter-collegiate league in the Northwest, the Orioles will face seven teams from B.C. and three from the Seattle area.
To open the season, the Orioles took on a tough Kamloops Sun Dogs nine, Saturday, losing both ends of a doubleheader 5-3 and 5-0.
The first game went back and forth until a two run home run by the Dogs in the top of the 5th put them on top to stay. Connor Jones and Justion Kitcher pitched well and kept the O’s in the game with Josh Mace leading the offence with two hits.
In the second game, Kellen Jones pitched superbly, taking a no-hitter into the 5th but couldn’t get any run support. Kamloops continued their opportunistic play, hitting and scoring five runs on only two hits. The Orioles only managed three hits and left several runners stranded on base in both games.
The league is sanctioned by the National Baseball Congress (NBC). Most PIL players are NCAA eligible and are unpaid in order to maintain their eligibility for scholarships. The PIL is different from many other summer collegiate baseball leagues in that the league also allows former professionals and college graduates to participate.
This is the Orioles first year in the PIL. The U.S. teams compete toward the NBC World Series and the B.C. teams will vie for the Provincial Championship held this year in Kelowna.
Trail hosts the Western Canadian Championship August 25-28 at Butler Park.
The Orioles next action goes this weekend against the Kelowna Jays, Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Butler Park.