Next stop GFI

After an impressive win at the Western Canada Baseball Championships Sunday, the AM Ford Trail Orioles are headed to the 31st Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament (GFI).

After an impressive win at the Western Canada Baseball Championships Sunday, the AM Ford Trail Orioles are headed to the 31st Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament (GFI).

The annual event begins Wednesday and welcomes 12 teams from Canada, United States and Australia that will play 25 games of high caliber baseball over six days.

The Aussies, Geelong Baycats will be making their first appearance at this prestigious event, which is held in Grand Forks’ beautiful James Donaldson Park.

Also attending are last year’s winner and Pacific International League rival the Seattle Studs, perennial favourites Lewiston Truckers, Canada’s 2008 national champions and this year’s provincial champs, the Victoria Merchants, as well as the 2004 and 2006 GFI winners the San Diego Stars.

“The competition will be higher at the GFI so we’ll really have to play our best but hopefully we’re going in on a high and can win a few games, make the money round and see where that takes us,” said the Orioles’ Jim Maniago. “It’s always a fun tournament to play in but it’ll be hard to top playing at home in front of the great fans we had this past weekend.”

The total prize money is $43,000, making it the richest invitational baseball tournament in Canada; it is also considered one of the finest in North America.

34 players who have participated at this event over the years have gone on to play in the Major Leagues.

An impressive list of GFI Alumni includes Canadians Larry Walker and Jason Bay, along with Josh Beckett, Tim Lincecum and John Olerud.

Great action on the field and lots of fun for the fans with free bingo during every game, 25 large 50-50 draws, Hall of Fame display, the Hard Ball Café and Right Field Tavern, Gifi the loveable mascot, Kids Run the Bases and Baseball Buddies events, along with a Family Friendly Zone.

There is an impressive list of players making their way to Grand Forks this year including outstanding college players, ex-college stars and ex-pros.

The Orioles open the tournament against the Grand Forks Blues immediately following the opening ceremonies, Wednesday at 8 p.m.

They play again Thursday at 11 a.m. against Team Canada and Saturday vs San Diego at 5 p.m.

The top eight teams advance to the money round on Saturday and Sunday.

Live Stats enables anyone with Internet access to follow every pitch of every game.

The website is www.grandforksbaseball.com where more information is available including the official tournament program.