The Northwest Honkers swept a four-game series with the Trail AM Ford Orioles at Butler Park on the weekend, but despite the losses the Orioles’ compete factor was high, and if not for a shorthanded line up, the local contingent may have turned the tables.
The Orioles dropped their first two games on Saturday by scores of 8-2 and 6-4 before going down 10-5 and 7-4 on Sunday.
“It’s always disappointing to come up empty in four games,” said Orioles manager Jim Maniago. “That being said, all the games were close, we had chances to win them all, especially the first two, and we were missing some key guys.”
In Game 1, the Orioles fell behind 2-0 after three innings, but pitcher Scott Davidson bore down and kept it scoreless through seven allowing the O’s to rally in the bottom half of the inning.
The Honkers’ pitcher Bob Wassman had a perfect game going into the seventh, but back-to-back singles by Jake Lucchini and Davidson broke up his no-hitter and started the Oriole comeback. Kyle Mace then walked to load the bases for Chris Kissock. The right-fielder grounded the first pitch to second base, but Mace went in hard at second, breaking up the double play and forcing shortstop Will Hall to launch the ball over the firstbaseman’s head and out of play, allowing Davidson to score the O’s second run.
However, with the go-ahead run on second, the Honkers reliever Spencer Trautman would come in and quell the Oriole threat. The Honkers scored two more in the eighth on an error and three straight singles, before Mace would come on in relief. The Seattle-based team added another four in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a three-run blast by Andrew Cherin for the 8-2 win.
Game 2 saw two Philadelphia Phillies draftees go head-to-head in the Orioles’ Chris Kissock and the Honkers’ Jason Salers.
After two scoreless innings, the Orioles would get to Salers in the third inning. Riley Brandt led off with a double, and Austin Tambellini would reach first on a single. Joel Graf stepped up and punched a double to left to score Brandt and a Lucchini sacrifice fly to right would score Tambellini. Singles by Davidson and Mace would plate Graf and Clint Hosford would knock in Davidson on a sac fly to make it 4-0 Trail.
Kissock cruised through five innings striking out seven and giving up just four hits, but the Honkers would strike in the sixth as Jason Padilla scored on a single by Cameron Padron followed by a towering three-run shot to right field by Dan Torlai to tie it 4-4. The Orioles would go in order in the bottom of six, but the Honkers opened the top of seven with two bunt singles by Hall and Padilla, and, after a fielder’s choice, Padron would score the runners with a stroke to left to make it 6-4.
Mace went 2-for-3 for the Orioles, while Kissock ceded six runs on 11 hits, 10 strike outs, and 0 walks. Salers went five innings for the Honkers giving up four runs on five hits, five strike outs and one walk.
“They are a very good team and every mistake we made they took advantage of,” said Maniago. “It’s high-level ball. Saturday night we had two pitchers going head to head, both had been drafted into the Phillies system and played pro, both had played independent pro ball last year, pretty impressive to watch in our park, and we scored some runs and hit the ball and gave ourselves a chance.”
On Sunday, the Honkers would break a 1-1 tie, scoring three runs to take a 4-1 lead in the third inning highlighted by a solo homerun from Jacob Zanon, then score two more in the top of four to go up 6-1. The Orioles would get one back in the bottom of the fourth when Maniago singled in Davidson, and would score three in the bottom of the fifth to cut the lead to 7-5. Graf led off with a walk, and singles from Lucchini and Dallas Calvin would score Graf. A Mace walk would load the bases and set up Davidson who ripped a double to score two more. However, the O’s rally fell short as Trautman came on in the sixth and shut down the Oriole bats, while the Honkers would score three more in the final two frames.
Hosford took the loss for the Orioles while Davidson went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double, and Maniago got on base every at bat going 2-for-2 with a pair of walks.
The O’s bench was short on Father’s Day Sunday, and missing key players, particularly at relief pitching. While the Honkers rarely left their starters in for more than four innnings, going to their set up man and their closer in the late innings, the O’s struggled to find an effective closer, and were forced to push their starters to the limit.
“We just don’t have enough depth to be able to have guys missing and still be able to beat some of these teams,” said Maniago. “We are pulling from our small town, they are pulling college kids and ex pros from the Seattle area and the Northwest, the fact we can stay in the game with them is pretty impressive.”
In the final match, the Orioles again were in the game heading into the fifth tied at 2-2, but the Honkers would score three in the fifth and one in top of seven to take a 6-2 lead. Trail would fight back, plating two in the seventh to cut the lead to 6-4 on singles from Jared Conway, a walk to Graf, and singles to Lucchini and Mace, but that was as close as they would come, bowing 7-4 to the Northwest team. Conway went 3-for-4 for the Orioles while Calvin took the loss going four innings and giving up two runs on seven hits, a walk and five strike outs. Graf would come on in relief and throw four and two-thirds, giving up three earned runs on eight hits, four walks, while striking out four.
“We couldn’t seem to get a break when we needed. Sunday we had bases loaded twice and Dallas hit two rockets right at guys. If they are two feet either way we score two runs on each play, instead we end up with a double play and out of the inning once and a tough out which led to no runs the other time.
“Maybe we’ll get the breaks next time when it counts, in the money tournaments and provincials.”
It was the final game for the Trail AM Ford Orioles at home this year, but residents can still watch the Orioles when they play in Kelowna for the Blast tournament June 26-28 or the Grand Forks International (GFI) tournament June 30 to July 5.